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ISO 50001:2018 Pt. I – Prepare Your Organization to Benefit from Changes

This blog is part I in a series on the changes in the ISO 50001 standard, and how to maximize its benefits. Click here to read to part II on digitized energy models.

For commercial and industrial (C&I) organizations, attaining ISO 50001 certification can produce significant long-term energy savings that directly impact the bottom-line. According the U.S. Department of Energy, companies that use ISO 50001 experience, on average, a 12% reduction in energy costs within 15 months of beginning implementation. For iomart, a fast-growing cloud computing company based in UK, ISO50001 certification was a main tool supporting its commitment to customers as a responsible data center provider – and has generated €1.5m in savings to date.

The ISO 50001 energy management standard, initially released 2011, is a proven framework for C&I facilities or entire organizations to manage energy efficiently. As of September 2017, over 12,000 organizations worldwide[1] had achieved ISO 50001 certification.

ISO 50001 changes, how to prepareFor many organizations, ISO 5001 has been a path to establish structures to implement strategies that significantly cut energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions – and sustain those savings over time. Pioneering companies discovered these advantages quickly, thus began adopting and certifying the ISO 50001 energy management system on a voluntary basis. But the biggest push for certification comes from regulation and ISO-related incentives. In recent years, ISO 50001 certification in Europe has increased by over 80% per year, with the main driver being the European Energy Directive’s (EED) Article 8 energy audit obligation. ISO 50001 is a valid alternative route for EED compliance in all EU member states and provides a more consistent approach than the country-specific audit schemes.

However, the newly released ISO 50001:2018 includes some major changes which organizations must understand for new or recurring certification.

What is new?

The new standard, ISO 50001:2018, has several changes related to the previous version:

  •  It makes it easier to integrate the various management systems and to align the system with other business processes by a streamlined High-Level-Structure (the processes to be followed are similar to ISO 14001:2015 (environment), ISO 45001:2018 (occupational health and safety), ISO 9001:2015 (quality) and other standards for management systems
  • Top management will have to be more involved in the energy management system, with obligation to frequent management reviews and sign-offs, as to raise relevance of decision to a higher level,
  • The management system will not only focus on the company itself, but should cover a broader perspective: the company with its relevant stakeholders and supply chains should be evaluated in relation to the energy performance;
  • Audit times and efforts will increase, especially for large organizations to serve the broadened requirements;
  • The common Plan-Do-Check-Act approach is not only to be applied on an operational level, but also on a strategic level;
  • The focus shifts from the system’s completeness “on paper” to the improvement on energy performance it effects; this is a major change, as organizations risk losing certification in case of missed savings;

Energy monitoring and metering becomes more important, as companies need to demonstrate their continual improvement in energy performance with valid measurement and verification (M&V).

How to address the changes?

ISO 50001 changes, how to prepareOn one hand, the new standard provides many benefits for organizations, thus streamlining standard management processes. On the other hand, the stricter requirements on demonstrated energy performance improvements will need to be taken serious and existing systems surely need pressure testing.

Companies who are already certified with ISO 50001:2011 have the chance to improve their energy management system and performance by transitioning to the new standard. The time period to meet the requirements of the new standard is three years. Organization should consider the following steps to prepare:

  • Perform an analysis of context, stakeholders, risk and opportunities in relation to the energy performance for the company to qualify impact;
  • Perform a gap analysis to find the gaps between the existing systems and required practices in comparison with ISO 50001:2018;
  • Develop a roadmap, discuss with existing energy team and an external auditor and roll out aligned roadmap to close the gaps;
  • Enhance energy and monitoring efforts

Companies who want to introduce a new energy management system to be ISO 50001:2018 certified, can take the following steps:

  • Perform a gap analysis and close the gaps in the existing business processes or existing (other) management system;
  • Implement the energy management system;
  • Conduct an internal audit of the ISO 50001:2018 energy management system;
  • Have management review the energy management system;
  • Complete external certification audits by a certification body.

Don’t navigate these changes alone

Schneider Electric’s energy management experts regularly perform energy reviews, GAP analysis and internal audits (IRCA Lead Auditor) and help with setting up and implementing integrated energy management systems across a global portfolio. Schneider Electric can also help you to implement the appropriate energy metering and monitoring system, and even deliver turn-key energy efficiency projects to improve your energy performance.

Contributed by Dirk Mestdagh, Client Sustainability Manager, Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services. To get in touch, email me at


Click here to continue to part II of this blog series, which explores how digitized energy models can help companies prove the savings from their energy management systems.

[1] Based on the latest survey of the International Organization for Standardization ISO