Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are answered on this page:

General Information

End-User Implementation

General Information

  • What is ISO 50001?

    ISO 50001 is a voluntary International Standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to provide organizations an internationally recognized framework to manage and improve their energy performance. The standard addresses the following:

    • Energy use and consumption
    • Measurement, documentation, and reporting of energy use and consumption
    • Design and procurement practices for energy-using equipment, systems, and processes
    • Development of an energy management plan and other factors affecting energy performance that can be monitored and influenced by the organization.

    ISO 50001 does not include prescriptive energy performance goals. Rather, it provides a framework through which each organization can set and pursue its own goals for improving energy performance.

  • What is an energy management system?

    An energy management system is a series of processes that enables an organization to use data and information to maintain and improve energy performance, while improving operational efficiencies, decreasing energy intensity, and reducing environmental impacts.

  • What is the value of ISO 50001?

    In the business world, a popular adage states that you can't manage what you don't measure. This principle applies to the world of energy management—an area of growing interest and concern to enterprises around the world due to its potential to help control costs, boost efficiency, and enhance competitiveness.

    Until now, the absence of an internationally recognized energy management standard has inhibited widespread adoption of best energy management practices. The new ISO 50001 international energy management system standard overcomes this barrier and offers organizations a proven approach to develop an energy management plan addressing critical aspects of energy performance—including energy use, measurement, documentation, reporting, design and procurement practices, and other variables affecting energy management that can be measured and monitored.

    Adoption of ISO 50001 is important to establish a more systematic and sustainable approach to managing energy within a facility. Conformance to the standard provides proof that a facility has implemented sustainable energy management systems, completed a baseline of its energy use, and committed to continual improvement in energy performance. The value of certification will be driven by market forces within supply chains, potential utility incentive programs requiring ISO 50001, and the standard's relation to future carbon mitigation policies.

  • What kind of impact will ISO 50001 have?

    ISO 50001 is designed for widespread use by industrial facilities, buildings, and other organizations. If widely adopted, it could influence up to 60% of the world's energy use across many economic sectors.

  • What factors will influence the use of ISO 50001?

    ISO 50001 adoption is expected to be driven by factors such as the growth of corporate sustainability programs and the spread of energy management standards along the manufacturing supply chain. Companies may also find the energy and carbon reductions achievable through adherence to the ISO 50001 standard increasingly valuable.

  • Who partnered in the development of ISO 50001?

    ISO created Project Committee (PC) 242 to carry out the development of ISO 50001, which includes participation from 59 nations (14 of which are observing). DOE supported the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) role as Secretariat of PC 242 (serving jointly with Brazil), to lead the international development ISO 50001. In addition, DOE contributed actively to the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG), the U.S. delegation to ISO PC 242. The U.S. TAG led international efforts to ensure that ISO 50001 preserves the United States' focus on data-driven energy performance and emphasis on management support.

    Moving forward, DOE will support the transition of PC 242 to a Technical Committee (TC) 242, which will update ISO 50001 as needed and develop a family of related standards. DOE support will help ensure that the new standards will be consistent with U.S. energy policy and strategy.

  • Who are the intended users of ISO 50001?

    ISO 50001 applies to industrial plants; commercial, institutional, or governmental facilities; and entire organizations. ISO 50001 provides benefits for organizations large and small, in both public and private sectors, in manufacturing and services, in all regions of the world.

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End-User Implementation

  • Why should my company care about ISO 50001?

    Energy is a critical component of an organization's operations and can be one of the largest controllable costs, depending on the activities. Improved energy performance helps organizations maximize the use of their energy sources and energy-related assets, thus reducing both energy cost and consumption. ISO 50001 provides a framework for organizations to make positive contributions toward reducing depletion of energy resources and mitigating worldwide effects of energy use, such as global warming, while improving the efficiency of organizational operations related to energy.

  • How does ISO 50001 fit with existing Management Systems (e.g., ISO 9001, ISO 14001)?

    ISO 50001 is based on a management system model that is already understood and implemented by organizations worldwide. To provide compatibility and integration opportunities, the standard uses the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach employed in ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. ISO 50001 can make a positive difference for organizations of all types in the very near future by improving energy management practices.

  • What initial steps can my company take to prepare for adopting ISO 50001?

    • Purchase ISO 50001 on the ANSI website
    • Take preparatory steps toward establishing an energy management system (EnMS):
      • Develop an energy policy that includes commitment to the EnMS from top management
      • Identify a management representative to lead implementation of the EnMS
      • Establish a team of representatives from major functional areas of the organization
      • Decide on the boundaries of the EnMS
    • Once prepared, take steps toward implementing an EnMS:
      • Undertake an energy review to identify significant energy uses, their energy consumption, and opportunities for improvement
      • Establish an energy baseline
      • Identify energy performance indicators for tracking energy performance improvement against the baseline
    • For additional guidance, DOE and other organizations offer resources to get started with energy management.

  • What technical assistance is available from DOE and other organizations to help companies implement ISO 50001?

    Technical resources and opportunities are available from DOE and other organizations to help you get started and more will be available over the coming months, including the following:

  • What are the DOE eGuide for ISO 50001 and DOE eGuide Lite, the software tools available to guide implementation of ISO 50001?

    The DOE eGuide for ISO 50001 is a toolkit designed to help organizations implement an energy management system through an organized step-by-step process. The seven major steps are:

    • Getting Started
    • Profile Your Energy Situation
    • Develop Objectives, Targets and Action Plans
    • Reality Check: Stop! Look! Can I Go?
    • Manage Current State and Improvements
    • Check the System
    • Sustain and Improve the System

    The eGuide includes forms, checklists, templates, examples, and guidance to assist the Energy Champion and Energy Team throughout the implementation process. See the DOE eGuide FAQs.

    The DOE eGuide Lite is recommended for organizations that are new to energy management as well as supply chain parent organizations. The eGuide Lite teaches organizations the basics of better energy management, helps improve their understanding of energy costs, and increases their awareness of options to reduce energy consumption. The goal is that organizations who use this "learn-by-doing" module will identify, plan, and initiate sustainable energy improvements on an ongoing basis.

  • How much energy does my organization need to save to qualify for ISO 50001?

    ISO 50001 does not prescribe specific performance criteria, percentage of Btu reductions, or target levels with respect to energy performance; however, it requires the organization to continually improve energy performance. To verify achievement of specified energy performance levels, DOE and industry are developing the Superior Energy Performance certification program for industrial and commercial facilities. See the question regarding Superior Energy Performance pilot projects.

  • How is ISO 50001 related to Superior Energy Performance?

    Superior Energy Performance is a voluntary, facility-level program geared toward industrial and commercial facilities. ISO 50001 is a central element of Superior Energy Performance, but the program has additional requirements for an improvement in energy performance, to be described in the forthcoming American standard, MSE 50021. The Superior Energy Performance program for industry, which was developed cooperatively through the members of the U.S. Council for Energy Efficient Manufacturing will launch in 2013. Superior Energy Performance for commercial facilities will launch at a later date; until then, commercial building managers may purchase ISO 50001 and start implementing an energy management system in their facility.

  • Who will certify my facility, company, or organization for ISO 50001?

    The ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) will assess and accredit certification bodies that are competent to certify organizations conforming to ISO 50001. ANAB-accredited ISO 50001 Certification Bodies will employ certified ISO 50001 Auditors to assess an organization's or facility's conformance to ISO 50001. When available, a list of ANAB-accredited ISO 50001 certification bodies and ISO 50001 Auditors will be posted on this website. To receive alerts and updates, please register.

  • Does my organization need to be certified to ISO 50001 to improve our energy management?

    No. Organizations can take many steps to start improving energy management without becoming certified. However, certification to ISO 50001 provides a structured approach that incorporates energy management into company culture, resulting in sustained energy savings and continual improvements in energy performance over time. This can help justify initial investments in energy projects and ensure return on investment. Without a structured approach, there is no guarantee that energy savings will be sustained or that return-on-investment will be maximized.

  • What kinds of professionals can help my organization implement ISO 50001?

    Certified Professionals will be available to help with ISO 50001 implementation. See the Professional Assistance section for more detail.

    • To help your facility identify opportunities to meet ISO 50001 requirements, the following certified professionals will be available:
      • Certified Practitioners in Energy Management Systems (EnMS) to help implement the ISO 50001 standard
      • Certified Practitioners in [Energy System Type] to help conduct energy system-specific assessments and establish procedures for continuously improving the energy performance of that system. Assessments will be conducted in accordance with the ASME system assessment standards, available for compressed air, process heating, pumping, and steam. While not required for conformance with ISO 50001, industrial facilities have achieved benefits by using these standards to identify opportunities to improve energy performance.
    • To certify your facility's conformance to the ISO 50001 standard, ANAB-accredited ISO 50001 certification bodies will send Certified ISO 50001 Auditors to assess your organization's energy management system for conformance to ISO 50001.
    • If your facility is seeking Superior Energy Performance Certification, you will need the following:
      • An SEP Auditor to assess conformance to the ISO 50001 standard and additional SEP requirements.
      • An SEP Performance Verifier to verify improvements in energy performance.

    Using certified professionals will ensure that your organization obtains the maximum benefit from implementing ISO 50001.

    Currently, the Superior Energy Performance program is being piloted and is scheduled to launch in 2013.

  • How can I become an ISO 50001 Auditor, SEP Auditor, or SEP Performance Verifier?

    Exams to become an auditor or verifier will be available in 2013. Dates/locations for the exams will be posted on this website. To receive updates about exam dates/locations, please register to receive news and alerts. Auditors and verifiers will need to seek ANSI-accredited certification and, once certified, periodic professional enrichment requirements.

  • What are the requirements to become an ISO 50001 Auditor, Superior Energy Performance Auditor, SEP Performance Verifier, or any of the other Certified Practitioners described above?

    Professionals may seek Certification by successfully completing a rigorous qualification exam and, once certified, periodic professional enrichment requirements. ISO 50001 Auditors, SEP Auditors, SEP Verifiers, and Certified Practitioners will have education and experience requirements appropriate to their type of qualification. These may include:

    • Direct energy-related work experience in industry or commercial buildings, depending on specialty
    • Experience with other management systems
    • Other energy-related work experience in manufacturing, engineering, or research and development

    To receive updates about becoming an auditor or verifier, please register to receive news and alerts.

  • Are U.S. companies implementing ISO 50001?

    Yes. In the United States, manufacturing plants and commercial buildings are implementing ISO 50001 through Superior Energy Performance pilot projects. DOE is supporting state and regional teams to help these facilities demonstrate the adoption of sustainable energy management strategies and systems. ISO 50001 was in the final stages of development while many of these facilities were implementing their energy management system, but all training reflected the latest draft of the standard as much as possible. Participating facilities receive tailored assistance to apply the standard and most intend to pursue ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance certification. Read more about the demonstration projects.

  • What is the Global Superior Energy Performance (GSEP) partnership?

    Global Superior Energy Performance (GSEP) is an international partnership that aims to coordinate national-level certification programs that promote the adoption of ISO 50001. The goal is to significantly cut global energy use through spurring continuous energy performance improvements in industrial facilities and large building and promoting public-private partnerships for cooperation in individual energy intensive sectors. GSEP was announced at the first Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in 2010 in Washington, D.C. to accelerate energy efficiency improvements throughout industrial facilities and large buildings.

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