June is a birthday of sorts for ISO 50001. The global standard, designed to provide organizations with a recognized framework for integrating energy performance into their management practices, turns 2.
That's decades younger than the more familiar ISO 9001, the widely known -- and widely pursued -- quality management standard whose origins date back to 1987; or ISO 14001, which targets environmental management and launched in 1996.
Nevertheless, by the end of 2012, energy management systems in more than 1,000 organizations across 50 countries had been certified ISO 50001, according to data compiled by the German Federal Environment Agency.
Schneider Electric's Smyrna, Tenn., manufacturing plant is among the manufacturing facilities that gained ISO 50001 certification in 2012. So, too, is 3M Canada's tape manufacturing facility in Brockville, Ontario. And Bridgestone Americas' tire plant in Wilson County, N.C., gained ISO 50001 certification this past November.
"Bridgestone Americas and the Wilson plant recognized ISO 50001 as a way to enhance its existing [corporate] energy management program," explains Blake Shelide, senior engineer of environmental affairs for Bridgestone. "In many ways, this meant building upon and creating standards around programs and practices that were already in place. A significant incentive to pursuing ISO 50001 certification was the resulting increase in visibility and awareness around energy efficiency."
ISO 50001 is based on the ISO management system model familiar to any organization that has implemented ISO 9001. It follows a Plan-Do-Check-Act model for continual improvement but does not establish targets for energy-management improvements.
Nonetheless, Bridgestone Americas' Wilson County plant has achieved significant energy performance improvements. Between 2001 and 2011, the plant documented energy savings of 16.8%. The tire manufacturer said energy-related efforts such as lighting optimization projects, a switch to natural gas as the primary fuel source in its boilers, insulating piping and promptly repairing steam and air leaks contributed to its ISO 50001 certification.
"ISO 50001 is also a great tool to support our corporate CO2 reduction goals," adds Shelide.
Bridgestone Americas' global goals include improving tire rolling efficiency by 25%, resulting in less fuel use and CO2 emissions from driving, while also extending the life of the tires.
Tips to Achieve Compliance
Multiple locations of Schneider Electric, including its global headquarters, have achieved ISO 50001 certification. The energy management company offers these tips to help achieve compliance with the standard:
1. Establish clear objectives -- "What are we trying to achieve?" Plan ahead. It may be better to implement tools now that can help you achieve your goals in the coming years rather than do the bare minimum to achieve compliance.
2. Make energy data visible. This is crucial at all stages of an energy plan -- before, during, after. This involves metering and data collection for analysis.
3. Ensure consistency of energy data at different levels of organization
4. The strategic energy plan must be part of an organization's culture and supported from top executives down to operations staff. Educate your organization; promote it; get buy in.
5. Look for government grants available for compliance in your region.
6. Seek out internal resources and processes currently in place. If you do not have all the required competencies internally, seek help.
7. Revisit past decisions regularly; strive for continuous improvement; and practice both passive and active energy efficiency.