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ISO 50001 Transition - Less than 1 Year!

19 March 2021
ISO 50001 - Energy Management Systems, provides requirements for a systematic, data-driven and facts-based process, focused on continually improving energy performance.

ISO 50001 - Energy Management Systems, provides requirements for a systematic, data-driven and facts-based process, focused on continually improving energy performance. The original standard was published in 2011 and is applicable to any organization wishing to ensure that it conforms to its stated energy policy and wishing to demonstrate this publicly.

The standard is often used alongside ISO 14001 to give an integrated approach to environment and energy management. In 2012 ISO published Annex SL which set out to provide a consistent high-level structure for all ISO management systems standards. This includes identical core text and common terms and definitions. This aim is to:

  • streamline standards

  • encourage standardization

  • ease the integration of management systems.

ISO 14001 was revised in 2015 in line with the new format however ISO 50001 was not reissued at the same time. This left some issues with organizations using the two standards in an integrated manner. The clauses across the two standards did not line up and in some areas there were significant differences in approach.

For example, ISO 14001:2015 dispensed with the formal requirement for an Environmental Manager, whereas ISO 50001:2011 required an energy manager with a defined set of competencies and experience.

Following the timeline shown below, ISO Technical Committee 301 (Energy management and energy savings) issued a draft revised standard in 2017 that brought ISO 50001 in line with the requirements of Annex SL on the other existing revised standards. Final publication of the amended standard was on the 21st of August 2018. As with the other amended standards, a transition period of three years was set.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with some other standards (ISO 45001 for example) the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) took the decision to extend the transition by approximately six months with a revised expiry date for the 2011 version of the standard being set at 31st January 2022. This timeline as shown in the graphic below.      
As with all other transitions undertaken across the various management standards, Failure to complete the transition by the end date as shown above will result in termination of certification. NQA is able to support you through the transition period and following our experiences with the previous transitions have developed a transition process that mirrors the methods and support that were very successfully utilised during the previous transitions of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

This is a summary of that highly successful transition process for organizations that currently have a registered ISO 50001:2011 system with NQA:

Transition Process

  • Transitions will be conducted at the time of annual surveillance or recertification audit.

  • Additional mandatory time will be added to the audit duration in order to allow the completion of a full and effective transition assessment against the new standard requirements. 

  • The additional time will be a minimum of one day. Additional time will be determined according to unique criteria of the organization. This will be determined by NQA. To find out your specific transition audit duration please talk to a member of the NQA team. 

  • If successful, NQA will issue a new certificate with the same valid until date (VUD):

    • At a surveillance audit - this will reflect the previous certificate.

    • At a re-certification audit – this will reset the three-year certification cycle

    • In the circumstance where the three year certification cycle has been restricted by the end of the transition period, and the transition has taken place during a surveillance audit, the VUD date will be reset to 3 years from the date of the previous reassessment or initial certificate VUD.

Whilst there have been a number of changes in the standard to align it with Annex SL, to those organizations with ISO 14001 or ISO 9001, there will no surprises. One of the key areas that has been reworked in the area of risk management.

ISO 50001:2018 now elevates the preventive and corrective action concept into a more encompassing risk assessment process. It proactively wants risks to be anticipated and addressed in the planning phase, not as something to which one reacts. Essentially, it asks the organization to use the inputs it has gained, add its experience and provide a reasonable analysis of risks and successful responses to them. It also asks for a more measurable approach to planning, using metrics of what will be attained that are meaningful to support implementation.

The other key change is the introduction of the final clause of the standard. Under the overall heading of ‘improvement’, The standard has a requirement that “the organisation shall demonstrate continual energy performance improvement”.

ISO 50001, therefore, has made a major leap forward in 'raising the bar' by requiring an organization to demonstrate that they have improved their energy performance. There are no quantitative targets specified - an organization chooses its own then creates an action plan to reach the targets. With this structured approach, an organization is more likely to see some tangible financial benefits.

At NQA we have provided a number of resources that will help organisations make the transition to this revised energy management standard. These include a gap analysis document, a transition summary guide and a number of webinars that explain the key differences and offer guidance as to what we may expect to see at an assessment. 

If you have any questions or just want to speak to someone regarding your transition please contact us.

Authored by: NQA UK Principal Assessor Richard Walsh