ISO 50001: A Guide to Achieving Certification

June 28, 2023

Embarking on the journey towards ISO 50001 accreditation for your commercial property? This comprehensive guide will aid you in understanding the key considerations, tackling potential challenges, and utilizing the best resources to make your journey a success.

If you would like to understand the different ways your existing building data can help you on your journey towards ISO 50001, check out our blog Achieving ISO50001 with Building Analytics.

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Key considerations when attempting to achieve ISO 50001 accreditation

Best ISO 50001 Resources When Getting Started

What is ISO 50001?

ISO 50001 accreditation, issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), is a global standard symbolizing an organization's dedication to creating and maintaining an effective energy management system (EnMS). This standard is primarily designed to provide a structured approach for continual improvement in energy performance, encompassing energy efficiency, use, and consumption.

The accreditation process requires an organization to formulate an energy efficiency policy, set targets to meet this policy, make informed decisions based on energy data, measure results, review policy effectiveness, and enhance energy management continually.

By obtaining ISO 50001 accreditation, organizations can significantly contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts. Apart from promoting environmental stewardship, this systematic approach also aids organizations in achieving cost savings through decreased energy consumption, complying with regulatory guidelines related to energy usage and sustainability, and improving their operational efficiency and corporate image.

How to Get ISO 50001 Accreditation

To achieve ISO 50001 accreditation, an organization must develop an energy management system (EnMS) in line with the ISO 50001 standard. This involves creating an energy policy, setting SMART targets in alignment, conducting an energy review to identify improvement areas, and prioritizing energy-saving measures.

Next, the organization implements and operates the EnMS, monitors its performance, takes corrective actions if needed, and documents all processes and data. After an internal audit and management review, an external ISO 50001 accredited body conducts an independent audit. Successful completion results in ISO 50001 accreditation, certifying the organization's energy efficiency commitment.

Key considerations when attempting to achieve ISO 50001 accreditation

ISO 50001 is an international standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) which provides a framework for managing and improving energy performance in organizations. To gain ISO 50001 accreditation for a commercial property, the key considerations are:

Energy Policy: A well-defined energy policy is fundamental for ISO 50001 accreditation. The policy should highlight the organization's commitment to continuous energy efficiency improvement and also comply with relevant legal requirements.

Energy Baseline: This involves identifying and documenting current energy usage and consumption patterns. This forms the baseline against which future improvements will be measured.

Energy Review: This is a systematic analysis of energy use and consumption, based on collected data. It helps identify areas where energy is wasted and where there is potential for energy performance improvement.

Energy Performance Indicators (EnPIs): EnPIs are used to measure the performance and effectiveness of an energy management system. These should be clearly defined and measurable.

Energy Objectives and Targets: Based on the energy review and EnPIs, set clear and achievable objectives and targets for improving energy performance.

Action Plan: Develop an action plan to achieve these targets. The plan should include the necessary resources (including personnel), specific actions, timelines, and the means to monitor and measure results.

Operation Control and Maintenance: Effective control of significant energy uses and maintenance of equipment is crucial. This includes ensuring the optimum operation of energy-related equipment and systems.

Training and Competence: All relevant personnel should be adequately trained and competent in energy management principles and practices. The level of understanding and involvement of employees is a key factor in the success of an energy management system.

Communication: Regular communication both internally and externally about the energy management policy, objectives, achievements, and improvements is important for the sustainability and success of the system.

Monitoring, Measurement, Analysis and Evaluation: This involves regular monitoring and measurement of energy performance, and comparing it against the energy policy, objectives, targets, and action plans.

Internal Audit and Management Review: Regular internal audits should be carried out to ensure the energy management system is working as intended. Management should also review the system periodically to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness.

Legal and Other Requirements: Ensure the organization is aware of and complies with all applicable legal and other requirements related to its energy use, efficiency, and consumption.

Bear in mind that getting ISO 50001 accreditation can be a complex process, and it may be resource-intensive, requiring a firm commitment from all levels of the organization. It involves significant data gathering, integration with existing management systems, adherence to regulatory compliance, and potentially, cultural changes within the organization.

Despite these challenges, the long-term benefits in terms of energy cost savings, operational efficiency, environmental impact, and enhanced reputation, among others, often make the effort worthwhile.

Best ISO 50001 resources when getting started

Achieving ISO 50001 certification for commercial properties requires a solid understanding of energy management concepts and a clear roadmap for implementation. Fortunately, there are numerous resources available for property managers and owners to help them navigate this process:

ISO 50001:2018 Document: The International Organization for Standardization's official document for ISO 50001:2018 is the primary resource for anyone wanting to understand the standard. It provides clear guidance on all aspects of setting up an energy management system.

ISO Website: ISO's official website provides various resources related to ISO 50001, including articles, case studies, and training opportunities.

ISO 50001 Training and Certification Organizations: Various organizations provide training and certification services related to ISO 50001. They provide training courses, implementation guides, self-assessment tools, and consulting services. Examples of such organizations include Bureau Veritas, SGS, BSI, and DNV GL.

Government and Non-profit Organizations: Many governments and non-profit organizations provide resources and guidance for energy management. Examples in the US include the Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the UK, the Energy Saving Trust and the Carbon Trust provide similar resources.

Online Communities and Forums: There are various online communities and forums where professionals share their experiences and knowledge about ISO 50001. These can be a great place to ask questions and learn from others who have gone through the process.

  • LinkedIn hosts various “LinkedIn Groups” where professionals share insights and discuss topics related to energy management and ISO standards. You can find these by searching for "ISO 50001" in the LinkedIn search bar and filtering by "Groups".

Books: There are many books published on the subject of ISO 50001 and energy management. These can provide a more in-depth understanding of the subject.

  • "ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems: What Managers Need to Know about Energy and Business Administration" by Christopher Russell. This book is a practical guide to implementing ISO 50001, and it provides the necessary know-how for effective energy management in businesses.
  • "Implementing ISO 50001" by British Standards Institution (BSI): This guide provides a step-by-step roadmap to implementing ISO 50001. It explains the key concepts of ISO 50001 and offers practical advice on how to implement an effective energy management system.
  • "Energy Management in Business: The Manager's Guide to Maximising and Sustaining Energy Reduction" by Kit Oung and Steven Fawkes**: This book provides practical guidance on energy management in businesses, with case studies and step-by-step guidance on energy management processes. It includes a chapter on ISO 50001.

Please note that the availability of these books might depend on the region and access to certain academic databases.

Kateryna Dmytriyeva
June 28, 2023