ISO 50001: The Ultimate Guide to Energy Management Systems (EnMS)

What is ISO 50001 the ultimate guide to energy management systems (EnMS)

If there was a list of the “Top Ten Problems” facing humanity in the next few decades, what do you think would be at the top?

Well, it turns out Richard E. Smalley made such a list in 2003, and placed predictions about a looming global energy crisis at the top.

His prediction focused on the problem of the amount of energy being consumed, against the amount of energy being produced (as well as available sources of energy production) alongside the projected boom of human population to around 8-10 billion by 2050.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of attention placed on the topic of energy efficiency and the relationship between energy consumption and climate change.

It is an undeniable fact that our global climate is rising in temperature. The science is there to prove it; the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other international organizations have acknowledged that recent years have been the hottest since records began.

As a result, intense weather like heat waves, hurricanes, heavy rains, tropical storms, and rising sea levels all becoming more and more commonplace.

Despite the rising tide of climate crisis, the demand for energy supply is at an all-time high. The global economy is insatiable in its demand for energy to sustain economic growth and development.

How should organizations prepare themselves for the inevitable challenge of sustainable adaptation, and for ensuring they have the tools in place to facilitate the systematic energy management approach that will be the core of efforts to improve energy efficiency in the future.

“Energy efficiency is the most promising means to reduce greenhouse gases in the short term,” – Yvo de Boer, Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

A systems-scale approach is necessary if organizations want to seriously engage with difficult problems facing sustainable business and adapt for the future of energy management.

ISO 50001 is a standard designed to help organizations establish efficient and effective energy management systems (EnMS) and improve energy performance.

Based on the principles of continuous improvement and popularized by the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 management system standards, by implementing these standards companies stand to reduce energy efficiency costs, lower carbon dioxide emissions and prioritize the preservation and sustainable engagement with the environments in which they operate.

This article will provide an introduction to the ISO 50001 standard, with a simple explanation and tips for getting started with an implementation of your own using Process Street.

Thankfully, recent changes have made it easier than ever to implement ISO 50001 (and any ISO management system standard), so that will be a big focus of this article.

Here’s a breakdown of what I’ll be covering here:

What is ISO 50001?

what is iso 50001?ISO 50001 is a standard that specifies the requirements needed to plan, implement, maintain, and continuously improve an energy management system (EnMS). This approach in turn allows the organization to systematically record, review, audit, analyze, and optimize the performance of the energy management system, taking into account specific metrics such as energy efficiency, energy consumption, and energy usage.

These requirements cover a broad scope of detail for all things related to energy management systems, from the policies and procedures used within the system, to the measurement and documentation of energy efficiency, to the design and procurement of equipment, processes, and personnel involved with the energy management system.

What is an energy management system (EnMS)?

An energy management system (EnSM) is the result of a successfully implemented ISO 50001 standard.

More broadly, energy management refers to everything that goes into the coordination of energy production and energy consumption.

An energy management system, on the other hand, is something that allows you to do energy management.

Goals of an energy management system are the conservation of resources, sustainable business (producers), and of course ensuring that end users (consumers) are not inconvenienced and receive the energy they need.

In this context, “management system” specifically refers to the ISO management system standard, shared between multiple ISO management systems. More on that later.

In short, ISO 50001 is the set of requirements for building and maintaining energy management systems.

ISO: A brief history

So what exactly is ISO, and why should you care about its management system standards?

Well, ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization. It’s the body responsible for establishing and implementing many (over 11,000) different standards across all sorts of applications.

It was formed in 1947 to develop engineering and industrial process standards, and is currently based in Geneva, Switzerland. Currently, it is perhaps the world’s most reputable institution for internationally recognized standards.

Of the 11,000+ existing ISO standards, about 350 are related to energy management systems (though not all of them are directly related to energy management, and fewer still are within the ISO 50000 family.

The ISO 50000 family

ISO 50001 was first published in 2011, and since then various related standards have been released relating to energy management.

These standards, developed by the ISO technical committee ISO/TC 301 (which is a devision focused specifically on energy management and energy savings) include:

Energy audits

  • ISO 50002 (Requirements with guidance for use)

Energy management systems

  • ISO 50003 (Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of energy management systems)
  • ISO 50004 (Guidance for the implementation, maintenance and improvement of an energy management system)
  • ISO 50006 (Measuring energy performance using energy baselines (EnB) and energy performance indicators (EnPI) – General principles and guidance)
  • ISO 50015 (Measurement and verification of energy performance of organizations – General principles and guidance)

Energy services

  • ISO 50007 (Guidelines for the assessment and improvement of the energy service to users)

Energy savings

  • ISO 50047 (Determination of energy savings in organizations)
  • ISO 17741 (General technical rules for measurement, calculation and verification of energy savings of projects)
  • ISO 17743 (Definition of a methodological framework applicable to calculation and reporting on energy savings)

Energy efficiency:

  • ISO 17742 (Energy efficiency and savings calculation for countries, regions and cities)
  • ISO/IEC 13273-1 (Common international terminology – Part 1: Energy efficiency)
  • ISO/IEC 13273-2 (Common international terminology – Part 2: Renewable energy sources)

ISO 50001:2018

ISO 50001:2018 is the most recent version of the standard, and with it comes changes to how SMBs and smaller organizations will benefit from implementing ISO 50001.

The main difference is the structure of ISO 50001:2018.

With the update, ISO 50001 uses the Annex L management system high-level structure (HLS), which is designed to make it easier than ever to integrate many different management systems (like quality management, environmental management, energy management, etc.).

There are a number of EnMS-specific changes related to energy performance indicators, and other data-collection specifics.

Other changes include those specific to the new Annex L structure, such as new clauses for understanding the organization and its context (4.1) and the needs and expectations of interested parties (4.2).

These changes mean it’s possible to use business process management software like Process Street to implement your energy management system, and reap the rewards of business process automation.

Management System Standards (MSS)


Recent updates to ISO standards have introduced a number of changes, such as the re-design of all ISO management systems to share a common high-level structure (HLS) known as Annex L (previously known as Annex SL).

Based on a core structure of ten clauses, Annex L is shared by many ISO management system standards, such as ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, and ISO 45001:2018.

It replaces ISO’s previous Guide 83 standard, which provided base structure and format for management system standards.

Understanding ISO’s management system standards can help you improve efficiency in your organization, especially if you’re already using an ISO standard.

Because many ISO standards share the same management system structure, it makes it easy to cross-implement and integrate different management systems, such as quality management systems (the ISO 9000 family), environmental management systems (the ISO 14000 family) and any other that shares the same structure.

Why is ISO 50001 important?

At this point, you’re probably asking why on earth you should even bother with ISO 50001.

There are a number of reasons you should seriously consider ISO 50001 if you are operating any kind of energy or environmental management business:

  • Research has been done to support reasoning for ISO 50001 adoption from both an economic efficiency and business efficiency standpoint, and the results suggest that companies will reduce energy use.
  • ISO 50001 is a reputable standard designed and published by a respected organization of international experts, in partnership with over 50 countries.
  • ISO 50001 is designed to work alongside business interests and achieve net cost savings, via a design initiative of low or no-cost operational changes.
  • As an ISO management system standard, it is compatible with other widely popular MSS such as ISO 9001 for quality management systems, ISO 14001 for environmental management systems, and more.
  • ISO 50001 is used globally, and is recognized as a trusted and effective system for energy management and efficiency.
  • ISO 50001 is designed to prioritize transparency and reporting, so that climate commitments can be scrutinized and organizations can be held accountable via audits.
  • Europe, the United States, India, China, and the United Kingdom represent key markets where ISO 50001 has already been adopted.
  • ISO 50001 is based on the principles of continuous improvement, and as such is designed to be robust and endure changes and growth within organizations. Implementing ISO 50001 can help ensure energy efficiency opportunities are continuously identified and acted upon.

Benefits of ISO 50001

benefits of iso 50001ISO 50001 adoption represents a strategic investment in energy sustainability and efficiency. Businesses can use the standard to achieve considerable savings in energy usage, optimize existing standard operating procedures, gain competitive advantage and execute effective risk management strategies.

Many organizations will be able to utilize ISO 50001 to gain government support and meet compliance needs with regard to carbon emissions, sustainable and responsible growth, energy security, and climate change mandates, alongside similar management system standards like ISO 14001 for environmental management systems.

ISO certification (How to get ISO certified)

ISO certification is not mandatory, however it can be useful. You may also need to get certified to meet the requirements of a specific client or government audit.

To get certified, you simply need to implement an energy management system according to the most current ISO 50001 standard, and then proceed to have that EnMS audited by a certified ISO auditor.

If the audit is successful, you receive a certification that will typically last for three years, after which it will be necessary to recertify.

Technically, only organizations can get ISO 50001 certified, meaning that individuals can’t “get certified”. Individuals can, however, become certified auditors in order to perform audits for external organizations.

Organizations can also be audited informally, even internally, to assess their implementation of ISO 50001, but this won’t result in a certification. There are three main types of ISO audit.

ISO audits

The three main types of ISO audit are:

  • First-party (internal)
  • Second-party (external)
  • Third-party (certification)

First-party audits are also known as internal audits. They are performed by the organization on an informal level to assess strengths and weaknesses of the management system, as well as assess whether or not requirements of the standard have been met.

Second-party audits are external audits carried out by request of customers of contracted organizations, to assess the quality or compliance of specific products or services. They are basically to make sure suppliers are doing what they are supposed to be doing, according to any contracts.

Third-party audits are for ISO certification. They are almost always performed by a designated Certification Body auditor, and should be undertaken by individuals outside of the customer-supplier relationship (to avoid conflicting interests).

Third party audits, depending on their success, can lead to a certification, or (in the case of a failed audit) a penalty or fine being issued to the organization in question.

How to transition from ISO 50001:2011 to ISO 50001:2018

how to transition from iso 50001 2011 to iso 50001 2018ISO 50001:2018 was published on August 21, 2018, and it marks the start of the three-year transition period for organizations to ‘upgrade’ from the previous version of the standard, ISO 50001:2011.

The main difference, as mentioned above, has been the introduction of the Annex L high-level structure, to mirror recent updates to management standards like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 19011, and many more.

Other changes include:

  • The re-structuring and normalization of environmental performance indicators (EnPIs);
  • Changes to how energy baselines (EnB) are recorded;
  • More specific requirements about energy data collection;
  • General improvements to the accessibility and clarity of requirements for energy performance key concepts for SMBs.

For inspiration on how to avoid being hit by that 2021 deadline, check out our ISO 14001:2004 to ISO 14001:2015 EMS Transition Checklist.

Using Process Street for ISO management

Since the recent changes to ISO standards to make it easy for SMBs and small orgs to implement ISO, it’s been easier than ever to start streamlining your standard operating procedures and maintaining ISO management systems with Process Street.

Process Street is a powerful BPM software, and you can harness it for your policies and procedures, SOPs and any other ISO standard implementations.

Just check out these premade templates we have for ISO management systems:

We also have standard operating procedure mini-manuals that you can use to build out your own agile ISO procedure libraries:

By storing your SOPs this way, they’ll be immediately available to you at the click of a button, instead of hidden away in dusty drawers and nearly impossible to implement in any meaningful way, let alone update and maintain.

If you want to know more about how Process Street works, we have a great monthly webinar series available on YouTube. Check out the most recent episode:

If you want access to all of this content designed from-the-ground-up to make your life dealing with ISO standards easier, then all you need to do is sign up for a FREE Process Street account.

It takes about 2 minutes, and then you’ll have instant access to all of the checklist templates I mentioned in this article.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and sign up!

Do you maintain an EnMS? What are some of the common problems you face? How do you implement ISO 50001? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from people with experience in the field.

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Oliver Peterson

Oliver Peterson is a content writer for Process Street with an interest in systems and processes, attempting to use them as tools for taking apart problems and gaining insight into building robust, lasting solutions.


One Comment

thanks for your wonderful program,i really benefited a lot and hope to continue benefiting from this interesting journey.
energy saving techniques is the only way to make our environment clean.

regards,
lupai samuel taban.


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