Happy birthday energy management. My how you’ve grown!

Photo courtesy Anssi Koskinen via Wikimedia Commons

As the ISO 50001 standard turns two, more businesses are recognizing the value of efficiency

ISO 50001, the global energy management standard, will turn two years old in a little over a month. At the end of 2011, 461 ISO 50001 certifications had been issued in 32 countries. By the start of this year that number had swelled to 866 certifications in 47 countries.

What’s behind this growth spurt? More and more, companies are recognizing the strategic advantage of competing on productivity and resource efficiency – doing more with less. This includes some of the world’s most admired industry leaders: Alcoa, 3M, Dow Chemicals, Lockheed Martin, and Volvo. They understand that you can’t be a best-in-class performer when you use any resource, including energy, inefficiently.

This is especially true in a global marketplace. And there are huge gaps between the world’s most energy efficient economies – those that use the least energy per dollar of GDP – and the world’s weakest performers.

At the same time, the incentives for improving energy efficiency and the disincentives for using it inefficiently (e.g., utility penalties for poor power quality and increasing emission regulations) are both increasing.

Many companies recognize the need for improving energy efficiency, but the path to get there is not always clear. What are our opportunities? Where do we get started? How do we prioritize our investments and what will our payback be?

ISO 50001 can help answer many of these questions. The standard does not prescribe any particular project or technology; rather it is a process for continuous improvement based on the classical “plan-do-check-act” model. It shifts from a project-by-project approach to an integrated approach which makes energy efficiency part of the fabric of your daily operations.

In addition to providing energy cost savings and improving environmental performance, the ISO 50001 approach also helps you evaluate and prioritize investments based on their business impact, not just a project’s technical attributes. This is often a stumbling point in building the business case for energy efficiency funding.

If you want to learn more about the ISO 50001 standard, the US Department of Energy has a very useful website: https://ecenter.ee.doe.gov/EM/SPM/Pages/Home.aspx


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About the author

Philip Lewin

I'm one of the many people sharing ABB's passion and great stories for robotics and industrial ingenu-ity. It’s exciting for me to be at the leading edge of a new age for one of the most fundamental things that people do - we make things. At the same time, the awareness has never been greater that economic progress, higher living standards and new ways of making things cannot come at the expense of our environment. I’m proud to contribute to this exciting and important discussion.
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