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This past June, the Internal Organization for Standardization released ISO 50001, a new energy management standard. The standard helps organizations of any type — institutional, commercial, health care or industrial — to continuously improve on energy performance. For facility managers interested in adopting the standards, it's important to understand both what the standard is, and also what the standard is not.
"The focus of ISO 50001 isn't on how I'm doing at one moment in time, it's on managing the process of improving energy performance over time," says Aimee McKane, senior program manager for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Industrial Partnerships Program. "It forces organizations to ask what systems and processes are in place to make energy management part of standard operating procedure."
ISO suggests six steps to implementing the standard:
1) Develop a policy for more efficient use of energy — this includes drawing boundaries and setting scopes for implementation of the plan. Will the system apply to a floor, a building, a campus or a multicampus organization? This step also includes obtaining buy-in on implementing the standard from upper management.
2) Fix targets and objectives to meet the policy — this includes looking at all uses of energy, including facilities, equipment, processes, etc.
3) Use data to better understand and make decisions concerning energy use and consumption — this includes prioritizing the strategies and investments that will have the biggest impacts first.
4) Measure the results.
5) Review the effectiveness of the policy — this includes looking at returns on investment of projects and operational strategies, as well as gauging the ease of implementation of particular strategies.
6) Continually improve energy management.
The focus on continuous improvement is one of the hallmarks of the standard, says McKane, who is also vice chair of ISO project committee ISO/PC 242, which developed ISO 50001. The standard doesn't specify how much improvement must be made, only that improvement be based on a metric the organization itself is comfortable with. "You can decide your energy performance indicator," she says. "But best practice is to tie it to a physical parameter, like energy use per square foot."
McKane says that the goal for organizations that adopt the standard should be to move away from the notion of looking at energy on a project-by-project basis. "The mentality had been to complete a project and declare yourself finished," she says. Instead, the focus should be to implement a strategy of systems and processes to manage energy over time. "If you install a chiller, you will have a management process in place for making sure the chiller is still operating efficiently three years from now," she says. That may not have been the case with an old-school energy mentality, in which replacing the chiller would have been assumed to be enough to capture significant energy savings.
ISO 50001 can be a complementary piece to either a LEED initiative or to an Energy Star rating. ISO 50001 is really only applicable to existing buildings that have been in operation for a while, though. There is no formal link between ISO 50001 and Energy Star or LEED, but because the goal for each is to save energy, ISO 50001 can help put a system in place where energy performance improvement becomes an integrated part of the ongoing management of a building.
Similar to other ISO management standards, like 9001 Quality Management or 14001 Environmental Management, organizations can choose to have a third party audit and certify their ISO 50001 management practices. Or they can use the standard as a guide. (The standard can be purchased for $120 from ISO or from the American National Standards Institute.)
Organizations with an industrial component can register for a new program developed by the Council for Energy-Efficient Manufacturing with support from the U.S. Department of Energy called Superior Energy Performance (SEP). SEP raises the bar on ISO 50001 conformance by requiring participants in this voluntary program to meet minimum requirements for energy performance improvement. SEP for Industry is in demonstration now in preparation for a mid-2012 launch. An SEP program for commercial buildings has just entered the pilot phase.
Check out the Department of Energy's new energy management website, including information about ISO 50001: www1.eere.energy.gov/energymanagement
For more information on the Superior Energy Performance certification, visit: www.superiorenergyperformance.net
U.S. Green Building Council
Immediate Past Chair
What ISO 50001 Can Offer is a Framework for Continuous Energy Improvement