For those of you who are still eagerly awaiting the release of the ISO 50001 energy management system standard (due to be released early next year), there is a British Standard, BS EN 16001, that can be used now. This British energy management system standard has been a key priority for European delegates contributing to the development of the ISO standard in the much slower international standards setting arena. These delegates are working closely with ISO to make sure there will be no disincentive for the early adopters of EN 16001 when ISO 50001 is released. The use of this standard is also providing some information to those writing the ISO 50001 standard.
The aim of this European standard is to help organizations establish the systems and processes necessary to improve energy performance and make reductions in both cost and emissions of greenhouse gases. Launched in July 2009, this standard effectively presents a business with a roadmap of the various steps to be taken to ensure it is viewed as being serious about energy management. The promotion of the standard notes that the combination of energy reduction and risk management is more financially advantageous than merely buying additional carbon credits or offsets to lower the carbon emissions that are reported to the public.
The standard helps businesses ask the right questions of themselves and adjust their internal processes and decision-making accordingly. These businesses use the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) framework to establish objectives and processes, implement some changes, monitor their results and finally act again to deliver incremental improvements in performance over time. Some companies in the UK are required to certify to this standard because of the “Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme” that was launched in April 2010 to support attempts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Climate Change Act of 2008. There are similar requirements in the European Union.
To keep up to the demand in the United States, the US Department of Energy is making draft copies of ISO 50001 available to certain technical assistance providers to use for their own energy conservation programs. However, no climate change legislation has been enacted in the United States. A company can purchase a draft of ISO 50001 and use it while the final standard is being subject to its final international ballot. You do not need to be involved in these Department of Energy projects to do so.
It is important to note that the “aspects” determination in ISO 14001 was designed for looking at all resources: water, energy and materials. Energy is very important to all companies and their stakeholders. Unless you find that you need to certify to an energy management standard, you may be better off looking at both the BS EN 16001 and the draft ISO 50001 and using the information to strengthen your existing ISO 14001 program.