ISO 50001: The Energy Management Standard (EnMS) and ISO 14001 (EMS)

This week, we conclude our series on ISO 50001, the new energy management standard (EnMS).  In this last installment, we intend to put the standard in perspective for our clients, many of which are currently certified to ISO 9001, TL 9000 and/or ISO 14001.  There is no doubt that environmental performance and corporate sustainability are hot button issues.  All organizations want to improve performance, reduce costs and improve marketability.  With rising energy costs and concerns about environmental impacts, companies want to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy related consumption.

So, how can you do this within the framework of a comprehensive business approach designed to achieve these goals?  Do you need to implement ISO 50001?  Is it the only way?  Can you utilize aspects of your existing ISO 14001 environmental management system?  For many of our clients, we believe that you can deal with energy performance within the scope of your ISO 14001 EMS.  To support this position, we think it is important to interpret what differentiates ISO 50001 from ISO 14001 and to clarify for whom the standard is ideally intended.

In simple terms, the thought leaders behind ISO 50001 believe that there is enough of a difference between “energy” related concerns vs. “environmental” concerns to warrant a standard dedicated solely to energy performance, hence the abbreviations: ISO 50001 the EnMS (energy management) and ISO 14001 the EMS (environmental management).

ISO 14001 deals with broader and all encompassing environmental policies and ISO 50001 is intended to deal solely with energy management and performance.  The ISO 50001 standard has more of a requirement based on performance measurement.  If you recall from our series on ISO 14001, “…ISO 14001 does not specify levels of environmental performance, the intention of ISO 14001 is to provide a framework for a holistic, strategic approach to the organization’s environmental policy, plans and actions.”  The international community felt that although highly successful, ISO 14001 was too broad and not specific enough for energy management (only).  It may sound a bit simplistic, but they draw the distinction between measurement and performance vs. continuous improvement.

However, you can address energy performance within the scope of your ISO 14001 system if you choose to do so.  You don’t have to implement ISO 50001.  ISO 50001 was developed to intentionally integrate with ISO 14001.  Edwin Pinero, the ISO 50001 Independent Chair clearly stated this in his interview with LRQA.  Since the standard has been released, there have been several articles published that contain commentaries and opinions as to how ISO 50001 compliments, is an extension of, and integrates with, ISO 14001.  Those who are currently promoting ISO 50001 draw a more decisive distinction between the two standards.

Then who really benefits from or needs to implement ISO 50001?  In terms of the immediate target audience, this is where intent comes into play.  It is believed by those who were a part of developing the standard that, “…ISO 50001 can influence up to 60% of the world’s energy demand…”  Their intent is that over time, ISO 50001 will have that level of impact on energy management.  Clearly, those who are involved in mass scale energy demand or distribution are organizations that impact a significant level of consumption, production, etc.  The more immediate target audience for ISO 50001 includes commercial utilities, public utilities (gas and electric), water utilities, municipalities, large industrial manufacturing complexes, multi-national energy companies and those organizations who may already have requirements or mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the end, the decision to embrace ISO 50001 is yours.   Again, for the clients we serve, we feel very strongly that you can adequately address energy performance in your current ISO 14001 EMS.  To help you draw your own conclusions, we have the LRQA interview with Edwin Pinero (14-page pdf) and Mr. Pinero’s article in ISO Focus (May 2011), available as links on the BIZPHYX Knowledge Base.  These are excellent resources.  You can download them for review in your own organizations.  You can also access this recent article from Environmental Leader.  The reader comments are quite interesting.  Many are coming to the same conclusion that we have.

If you need further assistance with ISO 50001 and ISO 14001, please contact  Tune in next week as we have some updates from the field regarding the recent Quest Forum TL 9000 Americas Best Practices Conference held in Seattle.  BIZPHYX executives and quality consultants were heavily involved in the workgroup and leadership sessions.

Until then–plan, do, check, act!