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ISO 50001 Promotes Better Energy Management

June 18, 2012
ISO has estimated the standard could impact up to 60% of the world's energy use.

In early June, Subaru of Indiana Automotive announced it had received ISO 50001 certification. St. Marys Cement Inc. celebrated a similar feat at its Bowmanville, Ontario, plant the same month.

Both announcements come almost exactly one year after the official launch of the ISO 50001 energy-management standard by the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization. The ISO 50001 standard is designed to provide organizations with a recognized framework for integrating energy performance into their management practices.

ISO has estimated the standard could impact up to 60% of the world's energy use. Speaking at the celebration of its Bowmanville plant's certification, Erik Madsen, CEO of St. Marys Cement, said the conservation elements of ISO 50001 put the facility on track to save more than $1 million in 2012.

While the ISO standard itself may be unfamiliar to many manufacturing firms, the model on which it is based won't be entirely foreign to firms familiar with ISO 9001, a standard for quality management, and the more recent ISO 14001, which relates to environmental management.

And lean-manufacturing proponents will be familiar with the Plan-Do-Check-Act process the standard follows for continuous improvement of the energy management system.

3M Co. (IW 500/41) has had several facilities engaged in ISO 50001 pilot projects.

Steve Schultz, 3M's corporate energy manager, believes the energy-management standard provides valuable guidance regardless of whether a company chooses to become formally certified.

"Because it is an ISO standard it will make [energy management] a more valid activity to plant managers and company owners. It makes the whole idea of managing energy a little more visible," he says. "It gives some very good guidelines as to what managing energy is, and for setting up some of the structure."

While ISO 50001 requires continuous improvement, it does not require specific gains in energy management.

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