Energy-saving device - ISO 50001

14th February 2012

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IEMA conference sponsor NQA reveals how adopting a separate approach to energy management can help organisations to cut costs, reduce carbon emissions and improve staff engagement

For more than 15 years, organisations wanting to lessen their environmental impacts have used ISO 14001 as a framework to understand how their operations affect the natural world and to combat harmful outputs.

Alongside waste management, pollution prevention and resource efficiency, many businesses have examined their energy consumption under 14001 as a way of lowering greenhouse-gas emissions. However, dramatic increases in energy costs, coupled with the introduction of mandatory requirements to lower emissions, such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency scheme, have lifted energy efficiency to the top of many organisations’ environmental agendas.

A new standard

With firms looking for more guidance on how to improve energy efficiency, new management systems standards have been developed: first BS EN 16001 in 2009, followed in June 2011 by the international standard ISO 50001.

ISO 50001 follows the same plan-do-check-act improvement cycle as 14001, but focuses specifically on energy performance and planning. The similarity in structures means that organisations with an existing 14001 system shouldn’t find it difficult to adopt 50001 and could even develop a single integrated management system, according to Martin Hockaday, client executive at certification body NQA.

“While 50001 includes a number of requirements that have no direct equivalent in 14001, many of them are similar,” says Hockaday. “50001 also provides guidance on how its clauses correspond with those of 14001 to make the integration process even easier.”

What 50001 does introduce over and above that of 14001 are requirements to conduct an energy review – analysing both consumption patterns and energy sources – and to use the collated data to identify energy-efficiency improvements and establish a baseline against which changes in performance can be measured.

“One key benefit of the standard’s structured approach is that it allows organisations to prioritise how they manage energy,” explains Hockaday. “This allows them to make significant improvements and ensures effort isn’t wasted on ineffective actions.”

According to Hockaday, developing an energy management system (EnMS) helps organisations to identify efficiencies that a broader approach might not identify and provides a tool to focus minds and efforts at all levels. “Adopting 50001 can help to promote better use of existing equipment; encourage best practice and more efficient behaviours; evaluate the adoption of new technologies; and provide a framework for promoting better energy management across supply chains,” he says.

Each of these elements played a role in the Royal Mint’s decision to create a 16001 EnMS and gain certification, later transitioning to 50001. As a large metal works subject to a climate change agreement, and with annual energy bills running into the millions, the Royal Mint had been working to manage its energy consumption for several years before looking into 16001 in December 2010.

“We had gone through all the low-hanging fruit and we wanted to introduce a standard that would reinforce what we had been doing and rekindle our initial impetus,” explains Martyn Grant, environment manager at the Royal Mint. “At the same time our procurement department wanted to introduce an energy management consideration to our supply chain. There was a keen sense that we could go for a standard and then explain to our suppliers how we achieved it, and encourage them to go for it as well.”

Spreading the word

Implementing an EnMS alongside its 14001 system has helped to raise the profile of how energy is consumed across the Royal Mint’s foundry, with energy management now given equal footing with environmental management in quarterly management reviews.

The key benefit of adopting 50001, according to Grant, has been the ability to use it as a communication tool and to embed responsibility for energy consumption throughout the organisation, with those responsible for environment, health and safety now being given the role of energy champions.

“Energy management used to be more of an extra layer of structure,” says Grant. “But the ISO management system approach means that the message is integrated throughout the organisation and gets down to the person on the shop floor. It gives everybody in the business an impetus to look at energy.”

Ben Brakes, environment manager at the Whitbread Group, agrees. His organisation gained its first 50001 certification in January after installing an EnMS at its only industrial site – the Costa coffee bean roastery in Lambeth, London.

“Going for certification really gave us a platform to go to staff and say: ‘We are one of the first companies to go for this standard, we’re really proud of it and you should be too’,” he says. “It gives you something over and above the usual ‘switch it off’ campaigns, and allowed us to really engage people with simple housekeeping issues like switching off lights and closing windows.”

Whitbread began exploring ways to improve its energy efficiency at the roastery site when it became obvious that, owing to the limited amount of electricity available to the site, expansion would only be possible if they could create spare capacity. Completing the baseline energy review was particularly useful for the firm, which had previously only looked at energy use across the whole site.

“We looked at every piece of equipment, from the coffee bean roasters and packaging equipment down to the kettle in the staff room,” remembers Brakes. “It helped us to identify that we needed to better control our energy-using equipment and allowed us to see when our peak energy uses were.”

As a result, some processes were changed to give a more even spread of energy use, for example, delaying the switching on of packaging equipment until coffee beans are roasted, instead of having it on from the start of the 12-hour operating period. Such measures, when coupled with more efficient equipment and behaviour-change programmes, enabled the site to cut its energy use by 16%. The savings have meant that the firm has met its key target to generate enough spare capacity to install a third roaster.

Following the success of 50001 at the roastery site, Whitbread has begun to look at how the EnMS approach might work at its other operations, in particular its larger hotels. The first step, however, has been to roll out the system at the group’s head office, an easier task than it might appear, according to Brakes. “Once you have the documentation and the processes in place, it is relatively simple to move the system from an industrial environment to an office,” he says. “At the heart of the system, you are simply looking at your energy uses. In our case, instead of looking at coffee roasters and packaging equipment, we’re now looking at PCs and servers.”

Greenest government

A more public set of targets in which 50001 played a key role was David Cameron’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions from government buildings by 10% in the coalition’s first year in power. Facilities management company ETDE is responsible for running the Cabinet Office estate and implemented an EnMS to meet its client’s targets (see box below).

Ruth McKeown, environmental lead at ETDE, says that 50001 has been important in gathering and analysing data.

“Smart metering systems monitor a building’s energy use in half-hour, real-time segments. This means we can pinpoint spikes in consumption, identify the cause and remediate as appropriate,” she says. “The standard has given us the ability to scrutinise energy practices in detail and support our client in meeting its carbon emissions reduction targets.”

However, accurate and relevant data is only half the battle, confirms McKeown. “Staff engagement is very important. Improving energy consumption and employing the appropriate energy conservation measures involves everyone at the end of the day.”

The data collated, as well as playing an important strategic role, are used as a part of buy-in programmes. The company provides individual business areas with information on their energy performance and the number of activities they have taken to combat energy misuse. This allows teams to benchmark themselves against each other and encourages individuals to get involved. After successfully implementing 50001 at the Cabinet Office, ETDE is rolling out the system across other buildings in its portfolio.

“The system demonstrates to our clients and the rest of our sector that we are forward thinking in terms of resource efficiency, and that energy and carbon management are at the top of our agenda,” says McKeown.

While having a 50001-certified EnMS provides a way for firms to differentiate themselves from their competitors, the top benefit of such a system is much more practical, argues NQA’s Hockaday: “In today’s economic climate, with costs needing to be kept down, energy prices soaring and sustainability high on the global agenda, adopting a structured approach to energy management is just good business sense.”

ISO 50001 and the Cabinet Office

For organisations that are considering taking a more targeted approach to energy management, ETDE has recorded a short film with NQA detailing its experiences of implementing ISO 50001 through the different functions of the Cabinet Office.

"We want to show other organisations, both in the public and private sector, that they can employ a system such as this and gain better control over their energy management issues," says Ruth McKeown, environmental lead at ETDE. "It really looks at the nuts and bolts of the operations and in particular it showcases how important staff engagement is to successful energy management."

To view the video on 50001 certification, visit NQA's website.


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