We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Cookie policy

Getting everyone saving energy with ISO 50001

Consistently driving down energy consumption demands a structured organisation-wide energy management system (EnMS) such as ISO 50001 involving everyone from the top down.

In this article, John Mulholland, John Mulholandour Associate Consultant, explains how you can use ISO 50001 to get everyone on your side as well as maximising the effectiveness of all aspects of energy management.

John has 30 years’ experience of designing and running energy/environmental awareness campaigns and is a leading UK authority on this aspect of change management.

He covers the following topics:

  • The first international EnMS standard
  • Main elements of ISO 50001
  • People aspects of ISO 50001
  • Competence, training and awareness (Clause 4.5.2)
  • Communication (Clause 4.5.3)
  • Putting people at the centre of energy strategy

You might also like to consult these related articles:

Energy champions – are they effective?
Sustainability by stealth
Energy awareness campaigns and surveys

The first international EnMS standard

ISO 50001 is the global Energy Management System Standard, launched in June 2011 and is gaining momentum worldwide with over 20,000 organisations certified to 2016, which is a 69% increase on 2015.  It is designed to help organisations establish the systems and processes necessary to continually improve energy performance.  It specifies the requirements for an Energy Management System (EnMS) to develop and implement policy and objectives, while taking into account significant energy aspects and legal requirements.

A new version of ISO 50001 will be released in late 2018 or early 2019. ISO 50001 can be used as a route to compliance for ESOS as long as certiification is held at the compliance date of 5 Dec 2019. It is unlikely that UKAS or certification bodies will be geared up to the new standard in time for Phase 2 ESOS. Therefore, ISO 50001: 2011 must be used for ESOS complaince.

Main elements of ISO 50001

The main clauses of ISO 503450_insight19_p00 - - becky001 fall into two main categories: energy and systems.  Those familiar with management systems will be familiar with system subjects like: documentation requirements, control of documents, internal audits, non-conformities and management review.  These are common to all management systems based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act continual improvement framework.

The main energy clauses fall into the following three categories.

Technical Solutions (T) – improving the energy efficiency of buildings and equipment then perhaps considering on-site renewables

Information Solutions (I) – monitoring and targeting to detecting waste and taking corrective action

People Solutions (P) – behavioural change, awareness raising and training

The topics covered by the clauses are listed below coded by category.

  • Top Management (P)
  • Management Representative (P)
  • Energy P3450_insight19_p1-copy - - beckyolicy (I)
  • Energy Review (similar to conventional energy audits/surveys) (T)
  • Energy Baseline (I)
  • Energy Objectives/Targets/Action Plans (I)
  • Implementation/Operation (T)
  • Competence/Training/Awareness (P)
  • Communication (P)
  • Operational Control (T)
  • Design (T)
  • Procurement (T)
  • Monitoring, Measurement/Analysis (I)


People aspects of ISO 50001

It could be argued that every single clause in ISO 50001 has to do with people because people have to read the Standard and people have to implement and maintain an Energy Management System (EnMS) in order to be compliant.  However, the following four clauses focus particularly on people aspects, the areas coded (P) above.

4.2.1 Top Management

4.2.2 Management Representative

4.5.2 Competence, training and awareness

4.5.3 Communication

The Standard is very specific about the role of top management in demonstrating commitment to support the EnMS.  Also the role of Management Representative is specific and wide-ranging.  The Standard implies that an Energy Management Team is formed for larger organisations but is not explicit in this requirement.

Very often energy management fails in organisations because of the lack of senior level support with little or no human or financial resources dedicated to the process.  If this reflects your organisation then these clauses of ISO 50001 may provide the leverage you require.  However, the main elements of people engagement are in Clauses 4.5.2 and 4.5.3 which are quoted in italics below and examined further.

Competence, training and awareness (Clause 4.5.2)

The organisation shall ensure that any person(s) working for or on its behalf, related to significant energy uses, are competent on the basis of appropriate education, training, skills or experience.  The organisation shall identify training needs associated with the control of its significant energy uses and the operation of its EnMS.  The organisation shall provide training or take other actions to meet these needs.

Appropriate records shall be maintained.

The organisation shall ensure that any person(s) working for or on its behalf are aware of:

a) the importance of conformity with the energy policy, procedures and the requirements of the EnMS;

b) their roles, responsibilities and authorities in achieving the requirements of the EnMS;

c) the benefits of improved energy performance;

d) the impact, actual or potential, with respect to energy use and consumption, of their activities and how their activities and behaviour contribute to the achievement of energy objectives and targets, and the potential consequences of departure from specified procedures.

This clause covers two distinct types of people:

  • Significant Energy Users
  • All Energy Users

Both groups have to be addressed.  Significant Energy Users can be those who influence significant energy use by virtue of their position (for example, a Production Manager) or by virtue of their job function (for example, an operator controlling boiler plant, refrigeration or compressed air systems).

The Standard makes it clear that a proper training needs analysis is required to ensure Significant Energy Users are competent on the basis of appropriate education, training, skills or experience.  Recently I conducted an ISO 50001 training needs analysis in a factory with a workforce of 40.  Each individual was allocated to one of four energy intensity categories with the number of individuals shown in brackets as follows.

  • High (6)
  • Medium/High (12)
  • Medium (18)
  • Low (4)

In this fact3450_insight19_p2 - - beckyory 6 out of 40 were evaluated as ‘High’ which is equivalent to Significant Energy Users in ISO 50001 terminology.  They received special focus in terms of training.  This illustrated the Pareto (80:20) principle, i.e.  20% of the workforce control 80% of the energy and 80% control 20% of energy use.

Those not in the ‘High’ category were classified as All Energy Users.  In this case it was 85% not 80% as in Pareto, but near enough.

The All Energy Users group also need to be addressed.  The phrase “any person(s) working for or on its behalf” includes contractors or others running plant or equipment on behalf of the organisation.  The awareness requirements are specific.

So the key questions to ask are as follows.

Significant Energy Users

  • Have all Significant Energy Users been identified by job function and/or name?
  • Has a full Training Needs Analysis been conducted?
  • Have Significant Energy Users been given specific training?
  • Are Significant Energy Users competent?

All Energy Users

  • Are all employees (and others) aware of:
    The importance of complying with energy policy?
    EnMS processes/requirements?
    Individual roles/responsibilities?
    Advantages of improved energy performance?
    Their own potential impact on energy consumption and energy efficiency?
  • Have all training/awareness measures been documented?

Communication (Clause 4.5.3)

The organisation shall communicate internally with regard to its energy performance and EnMS, as appropriate to the size of the organisation.

The organisation shall establish and implement a process by which any person working for, or on behalf of, the organisation can make comments or suggest improvements to the EnMS.

The organisation shall decide whether to communicate externally about its energy policy, EnMS and energy performance, and shall document its decision.  If the decision is to communicate externally, the organisation shall establish and implement a method for this external communication.

There are two aspects of communication as follows.

  • Internal Communication (mandatory)
  • External Communication (optional)

While external communication is optional the decision whether or not to communicate externally needs to be documented.  The issue has to be considered and the decision recorded.

The internal communication requirement has two elements:

  • Communication on energy performance and the EnMS
  • Mechanism for anyone to comment or suggest improvements to the EnMS

In many organisations there are existing channels which can be harnessed to meet these two requirements without much difficulty.

So the key questions to ask are as follows.

  • Is energy perfo3450_insight19_p3 - - beckyrmance and the EnMS internally communicated?
  • Can all employees actively comment on/make suggestions to improve the EnMS?
  • Has the organisation decided to communicate externally (and documented this decision)?
  • If yes, has a plan for external communication been developed and implemented?

Putting people at the centre of energy strategy

Any serious energy management strategy must address the human factor or it will fail.  This is true irrespective of whether an organisation implements ISO 50001.

If an organisation decides to put in place an EnMS compliant with ISO 50001, then people solutions will be a key element for success. Every person in every organisation uses energy.  People make things happen and people have great potential for energy waste and energy savings. People matter. Therefore people are rightly centre stage in ISO 50001.


Your Independent RISK FREE Solutions

The Green Consultancy’s energy behaviour change service can provide a complete solution tailored to meet your precise needs – from one off events to ongoing programmes . We can also provide you with whatever support you need to obtain the energy management standard ISO 50001.

Put us to the test NOW! To discuss your requirements please call John Treble on 01761 419081 or email John@GreenConsultancy.com

To see all other articles please click here

4_logo-nigeria - Peter Hawtin - peterh

ISO 50001 Support for Nigerian Industry

"The Green Consultancy's John Mulholland provided valuable expertise in the development of the communication strategy and produced comprehensive and high-quality content for the guidelines and brochures. Consequently, we include The Green Consultancy’s consultants in our ongoing project proposals and look forward to working with them again."

Torben Voss, Energy Consultant, GFA Consulting Group

See case history of our work for Nigerian Industry

3450_wwf-box-165x227-wwf-01 - - becky

Energy Management System for WWF

“We found the day to be really helpful in understanding the requirements for an  Energy Management System internal audit.  We were able to go through the audit section-by-section and your consultant’s experience in setting up the standard meant that we were absolutely clear on our roles and the requirements by the end of the consultancy.  Although the session was arranged to address our questions on the internal audit requirement, we found that we could not fail to learn so much more about Energy Management in the course of the day’s discussions.”

Peter Best, Head of Facilities & Environmental Management

Global Law Firm Logo

Energy Management System ISO 50001 review for Global Law Firm

"We were very impressed with your consultant's experience and application of knowledge when he visited us to undertake an independent review of our energy management system in relation to ISO 50001. He presented us with a comprehensive report, with excellent recommendations; a number of which we will embed into our business going forward. There was an element of learning and discovery on both sides and it was a welcomingly refreshing experience to work with a consultant who really understood our requirements and strived, successfully, to deliver a first class service and quality advice."

Senior Energy and Environment Advisor