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Making the move from ISO 14001 to ISO 50001

20 May 2015
As the world’s leading environmental and energy management systems, ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 are closely aligned. Rob Shepherd explains why organisations with ISO 14001 should look to achieve conformity to ISO 50001 and enjoy the additional energy efficiencies that integration can bring.

The integration of an environmental management system (EMS) with an energy management system (EnMS) is increasingly considered the best way to make an entire operation as efficient as possible.

It also makes perfect sense from an administrative point of view, as the two standards have complementary structures that are based around the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) methodology that ensures that an organisation’s activities, products and services are systematically identified, assessed, controlled, monitored and improved.

Making the move from ISO 14001 to ISO 50001

Moving on up

As the environment has risen up the corporate agenda, over 223,000 organisations in 159 countries worldwide are now certified to ISO 14001. It helps them reduce any harmful effects they may have on the environment by developing processes to lower energy and raw materials use, reduce waste and pollution, and mitigate the risk of emergency situations. It not only ensures that a company is environmentally friendly, it also makes it more profitable and efficient.

Likewise, ISO 50001 helps manage, monitor and maintain energy usage. Experts from 44 countries participated in its development and, according to ISO, it has established a framework that could positively influence 60 per cent of the world's energy use. It specifies requirements for the measurement, documentation, reporting, equipment design and procurement processes that help address the continuous improvement of energy related performance.

Altogether now

The most common features of ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 concern activities such as document management, legal requirements, auditing, operational control, evaluation of compliance, remedial action and management review. In addition, both standards require the setting of objectives and realistic targets for performance improvement.

The key to successful integration is to ensure that there is a joined-up approach to managing energy and environmental issues. Martin Hockaday, energy and environment sector manager at NQA, explains,

‘Where there are different roles and skill sets for energy and environmental matters, it is imperative that the two areas work together to identify and implement processes that make savings in all parts of an operation. A failure to do this may not only make conformity more difficult, it will also result in missed opportunities going forward. The most common features of ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 surround activities such as document management, legal requirements, auditing, operational control, evaluation of compliance, remedial action and management review.’

Those that are already ISO 14001 certified will find that the document management requirements they must adhere to will more than satisfy the obligations stipulated in ISO 50001. Furthermore, any existing ISO 14001 audit and corrective action processes can be used, thereby reducing duplication. Not only is this important in terms of saving time, money and effort, maintaining one single management system has numerous administrative advantages.

Different strokes

Although it shares a common framework with ISO 14001, ISO 50001 also has a number of unique elements. These include the need to conduct a comprehensive energy review, establish an energy baseline and develop a set of energy performance indicators (EnPIs) so that any changes in energy performance can be measured against defined criteria. Objectives, targets and action plans will then help to deliver results in terms of improved performance.

‘To be truly effective, this process also involves an understanding of subjects and technologies such as the principles of fuel combustion, heat transfer and energy flow,’ states Martin Hockaday. ‘By looking at measurement units, sources, costs, tariffs, data analysis techniques and monitoring methods, a more comprehensive and effective EnMS can be implemented.’

The use of software based technologies such as building energy management systems (BEMS) are also particularly helpful when it comes to efficient and dynamic management, as they provide automated reporting for monitoring energy performance improvements. Put simply, this means that good energy management can be conducted on an ongoing basis, based on statistics that are readily available.

Added value

Putting piecemeal measures in place to manage energy, while well intentioned, can often be fragmented and self-defeating if they are not part of a company-wide strategic plan. This is one of the reasons why ISO 50001 is increasingly popular and NQA has been highly successful in helping companies across a wide variety of vertical sectors gain certification.

Martin Hockaday comments,

‘Having regular meetings with an NQA auditor, who has a wealth of understanding of energy use and management techniques and technology, means that a company can assess its achievements, learn from them, and set new targets.’

Take action

Any organisation that already has ISO 14001 but has not yet made the move towards ISO 50001 certification should seriously consider doing so. Integrating standards is a relatively straight forward process. In most cases new standards can be added to a current audit package. Ultimately, it will result in financial and business benefits through improved energy and environmental efficiencies, while also enhancing stakeholder perception and the overall reputation of a company.