ISO 50001 energy management standard

Submitted by: Margaret McKenzie, Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Achieving energy efficiency in an organisation is often regarded as a technical problem that is the responsibility of technical staff.    The Energy Management Standard ISO 50001 (also known as SANS 50001 in South Africa) published in 2011 moves away from the technical solution only approach and advocates a systems based approach to energy management.


Central to the notion of a systems based approach is that energy management should be integrated into the operations of an organisation.   The standard advocates achieving this by adopting the Plan - Do - Check - Act (PDCA) continual improvement framework.    PDCA, also known as Deming’s cycle, is an established management method for achieving continuous improvement in an organisation.

The key features of the method as used in the IS0 50001 standard are:

  1. Plan:  The planning stage first involves understanding current energy use of an organisation and establishing a baseline of energy use.  Once an understanding of use has been established it is possible to establish energy management targets and objectives and then determine action plans for achieving these targets.
  2. Do: This involves implementing the action plans identified in the planning phase of the cycle
  3. Check: This involves monitoring and measuring energy management performance and analysing the results of this performance against the expectations established in the planning phase.
  4. Act:  This involves taking corrective action to improve performance based areas where there were significant differences between energy use and expected energy management results.

PDCA is a continuous improvement system, so once a complete Plan - Do - Check - Act cycle is completed the process is started again.

This approach to energy management has been successfully used by numerous international organisations and resulted in significant initial savings backed up by ongoing smaller year on year savings.  Organisations wishing to achieve and maintain significant energy use reductions should consider adopting the standard.  The approach advocated by the standard can be followed by any organisation and organisations don’t have to formally adopt the standard in order to achieve its energy management benefits.

The National Industrial Energy Efficiency Programme provides a range of training opportunities on the standard for organisations wishing to learn more.

Margaret McKenzie