ISO 50001 (full name: ISO 50001:2011, Energy management systems – Requirements with guidance for use) is a specification created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for an energy management system. The standard specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and improving an energy management system, whose purpose is to enable an organization to follow a systematic approach in achieving continual improvement of energy performance, including energy efficiency, energy security, energy use and consumption. The standard aims to help organizations continually reduce their energy use, and therefore their energy costs and their greenhouse gas emissions.
ISO 50001 was released by ISO in June 2011 and is suitable for any organization – whatever its size, sector or geographical location.
The system is modeled after the ISO 9001 Quality Management System and the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS). Eccleston describes the procedural details of the ISO Energy Management System (EnMS) and compares its procedures with those of the ISO 14001 EMS.
A significant feature in ISO 50001 is the requirement to “…improve the EnMS and the resulting energy performance” (clause 4.2.1 c). The other Standards mentioned here (ISO 9001 and ISO 14001) both require improvement to the effectiveness of the Management System but not to quality of the product/service (ISO 9001) or Environmental performance (ISO 14001). It is anticipated that by implementing ISO 9001 and 14001 that an organization would, in fact, improve quality and environmental performance, but the Standards do not specify it as a requirement.
ISO 50001, therefore, has made a major leap forward in ‘raising the bar’ by requiring an organization to demonstrate that they have improved their energy performance. There are no quantitative targets specified – an organization chooses its’ own then creates an action plan to reach the targets. With this structured approach, an organization is more likely to see some tangible financial benefits.