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Getting Started with ISO 50001

Companies use an energy management system (EnMS) to establish the policies and procedures to systematically track, analyze, and improve energy efficiency.

ISO 50001, the global energy management systems standard, specifies requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and improving an EnMS. The standard is based upon the Plan-Do-Check-Act management system, which is familiar to many manufacturing plants that have implemented other ISO standards. DOE's 50001 Ready and Superior Energy Performance 50001 programs provide guidance, tools, and protocols to drive deeper, more sustained savings from ISO 50001.

The 50001 Ready Navigator is a comprehensive online reference that provides free, step-by-step guidance for ISO 50001 implementation from start to finish. The Navigator is intended to serve as a companion to the ISO 50001 standard, not replace it.

The following sections highlight some of the information included the guide; visit the Navigator for more details, examples, templates, forms and checklists, and more.


Outline management responsibilities. Top management commitment and involvement are critical to the success of an EnMS. Management engagement at the beginning of the process helps to encourage progress.

Define the scope. A defined EnMS scope and boundaries will help to focus efforts and resources. The scope may be a building, plant, facility, site, corporation, or a combination of these, but it should cover the activities, facilities, and decisions associated with the energy sources encompassed by the scope.

Establish a team. To obtain the needed skills, knowledge, and relevant expertise, an energy-management project relies on a team approach. A team provides diverse perspectives, distributes the workload, eases implementation, promotes wider acceptance, and improves the potential for sustaining the system. The team should include members from all areas of the facility concerned with the selection, procurement, consumption, reliability, disposal, or environmental impacts of fuels and energy systems.

Set the energy policy. An energy policy establishes top management commitment to energy performance improvement. The policy should state the company's energy priorities. It may range from a few sentences to several paragraphs, and it must be documented and understood by all employees.

Identify significant energy uses. To achieve the greatest performance improvement with the fewest resources, facilities must identify all of their significant energy uses (SEU). SEU should receive special attention when establishing energy objectives, targets, and action plans, during training and competence evaluations of relevant personnel, when planning for effective operation and maintenance, and when monitoring and analyzing performance.

Determine energy performance indicators. Energy performance indicators (EnPIs) are measured param-eters, ratios, or models that help to quantify energy use and efficiency improvements at the organization, facility, system, process, or equipment level. When compared to baseline values, they help to gauge performance and improvements.

Set energy objectives and targets. Once opportunities for energy improvement are identified and organized, energy objectives and targets for meeting the energy policy or performance commitment need to be set. Energy objectives should be high-level goals or specified outcomes that guide development of strategies and activities. For each objective, specific, quantifiable achievement targets should be outlined to help reach the overall goal.

Prepare an action plan. An energy-management action plan is a comprehensive project guide that needs to be communicated to all responsible parties. It should define the activities to be completed, resources needed, personnel responsibilities, and methods for verifying results.


Manage and control documentation. An EnMS requires two types of information to be controlled: documents, which lay out expectations for energy-management actions and behaviors; and records, which provide evidence of the results of those efforts. Document control ensures that the correct information is available and helps to manage external and obsolete information. Accurate, accessible records are essential to corrective and preventive efforts and for confirming system processes and results.

Communicate. Internal communication is essential to managing change. It keeps personnel abreast of energy-management activities, incentives, and successes, which strengthens commitment and participation. The communication plan should include multiple pathways for disseminating information.

Confirm competency, training, and awareness. ISO 50001 requires positions associated with significant energy uses to have defined competencies, as well as evidence that the person responsible for the SEU has those competencies. Thus, the team must define the needed competencies, assess the personnel, and develop a plan to address any training needs.

Define energy procurement specifications. To comply with ISO 50001, an organization must define specifications for purchasing energy. The specifications may include quality and quantity requirements, characteristics (e.g., fuel composition, moisture, and energy content), approximate cost, delivery schedule, resource reliability, and voltage, current, and/or electricity peaking times. To ensure that the procurement plan and the EnMS are cohesive, the staff involved with energy procurement should understand SEUs and related controls; energy objectives, targets, and action plans; EnPIs; operational controls critical to sustain improvements made by previous energy projects; and key maintenance items related to energy systems (e.g., compressed air, steam, etc.).


Verify legal and other requirements. A profile of the organization's energy obligations needs to be gathered, and should include any legal or voluntary commitments. Processes should be put in place to identify, assess, and evaluate those requirements.

Implement a monitoring, measurement, and analysis plan. A primary requirement of ISO 50001 is that the organization establish an energy monitoring, measurement, and analysis plan. The components of the plan depend on the size and complexity of the organization and the monitoring equipment available. Typically, the plan includes system specifications, processes or equipment to be monitored, methods and frequency of data collection, processes for data analysis, and calibration requirements.

Conduct internal audits. An audit is a systematic, documented process that verifies that the EnMS meets the organization's criteria, is effectively implemented and maintained, supports the energy objectives and targets, and improves energy performance. During an audit, the auditors interview personnel, observe activities, review documents, and examine records and data. Many facilities conduct audits annually.


Perform a management review. The organization must periodically review and evaluate its activities and energy performance to identify opportunities for improvement. Typically, a management representative ensures that the appropriate information is collected, organized, and presented to enable management to carry out evaluations and make informed decisions.