The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently published a new standard for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and improving an energy management system, known as ISO 50001. The ISO 50001 standard is a foundational tool that industrial, commercial, institutional, and governmental facilities of all sizes can use to manage energy and improve energy performance. An effectively implemented energy management system under ISO 50001 can reduce operation and overhead costs, and thereby increase profitability, through increased energy efficiency and decreased energy consumption.

There are six basic steps for facilities implementing the ISO 50001 standard. First, the facility should secure commitment to the ISO 50001 process from top management personnel. Those managers should set an energy policy and define the scope and boundaries of the energy management system, such as the entire facility or a particular unit or building in the facility. Next, the facility should begin to collect, track, and analyze energy data, including past, current, and future energy use and consumption. In the third step, the facility should identify key energy uses, such as systems, equipment, processes, and personnel. Then, the facility should establish an energy usage baseline that will serve as a reference point for future energy performance. The baseline should outline current energy performance and make projections regarding future energy performance. The facility should then identify energy-saving opportunities, such as renewable and alternative energy sources. Finally, the facility should prioritize energy-saving opportunities, taking into account factors such as ease of implementation and return on investment.

The ISO 50001 standard has been designed to be used independently, but it can be aligned or integrated with other ISO standards, including ISO 9001 on quality management and ISO 14001 on environmental management. In addition, the ISO 50001 standard can be used in conjunction with Superior Energy Performance, which is a market-based certification program accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that will launch nationwide in 2012. Superior Energy Performance builds on ISO 50001 to provide a method for continuous energy efficiency improvement and will also allow for third-party verification of facility compliance with ISO 50001.