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The Value of Energy Management Systems and ISO 50001

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Industrial activities and commercial buildings jointly use about 60% of global energy.1 Both of these sectors have the potential to significantly improve their energy efficiency—yet current projections suggest that neither is on track to achieve even half their efficiency improvement potential by 2035.2 Governments and businesses around the world are turning to the international energy management standard, ISO 50001, to capture a greater share of these savings to bolster productivity, competiveness, and national energy security.

What is an Energy Management System?

Companies are finding that energy management systems (EnMSs) offer a cost-effective way to save energy and avoid carbon emissions. An EnMS gives businesses the procedures and practices required to systematically track, analyze, and reduce energy demand. An EnMS integrates energy into daily management practices and business systems, leading to a lasting change in organizational culture.

To implement a robust, effective EnMS, organizations are using ISO 50001, which reflects the efforts of more than 50 governments to gather the best EnMS practices for use by organizations in managing their energy more productively. This global energy management system standard requires all levels of an organization, especially top management, to track energy performance on par with other critical business indicators, and all staff are empowered and encouraged to identify energy saving opportunities. ISO 50001 is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act management system model of continual improvement used by other international standards, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. The business community’s familiarity with these well-established standards and model are facilitating widespread uptake.

Organizations use the global ISO 50001 standard to implement a robust, effective energy management system to improve energy performance and reduce carbon emissions.

Key Elements of ISO 50001 

  • Energy policy 
  • Cross-divisional management team 
  • Energy planning process  
  • Baseline of energy use 
  • Identification of energy performance indicators 
  • Energy objectives and targets 
  • Action plans 
  • Operating controls and procedures 
  • Measurement, management, and documentation Internal audits and periodic reporting

Business Success Using the ISO 50001 Standard

ISO 50001 helps companies to capture, sustain, and continuously expand energy savings and supports sustainability and carbon reduction goals. Initial analyses of U.S. companies adopting ISO 50001 found that savings averaged 10% within 18 months, and annual savings ranged from $87,000 to $984,000. These results were often achieved using only no-cost or low-cost operational measures. Similar successes are emerging from facilities in South Africa’s automotive and steel sectors and in Canada’s cement, chemicals, electronics, and mining sectors.

The Energy Management Working Group develops and publishes detailed case studies on EnMS implementation and resulting quantitative and qualitative benefits in companies around the world. 

Government Opportunity and Role

Various governments have successfully integrated ISO 50001 into national policies and programs, often requiring the reporting and/or verification of savings, to help meet national and international energy and carbon reduction goals. The standard applies to all types of organizations, including industrial facilities, commercial buildings, cities, hospitals, universities, and entire supply chains.

Countries can leverage ISO 50001 as a key pathway for making progress toward national and international climate goals. Since it can be consistently implemented across countries, it also makes a useful global benchmark. Enhancing this function are its globally harmonized and transparent nature, business-friendly approach, and compatibility with cost-effective oversight and progress evaluation. Supportive policies and programs are needed to remove barriers and further facilitate market adoption. The Energy Management Working Group convenes government representatives to share best practices, build the business case, provide technical resources, and structure supportive policies.

Learn more about the Energy Management Working Group:  

Country EnMS Program Examples*


Energy Conservation Law was modified in 2014 to make specific reference to ISO 50001 as key pathway for industry compliance

European Union

2014 Energy Efficiency Directive requires large energy users to submit results of energy audits every four years, unless they are certified to ISO 50001


Offers a range of incentives for ISO 50001 certification, such as cost-sharing assistance and training opportunities

United States

Voluntary certification program expands on ISO 50001 to require energy performance improvement and third-party verification



“Win the Energy Challenges with ISO 50001,”p. 3
IEA. “World Energy Outlook 2012.” 

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