What is an EnMS (energy management system) and why should we invest in one?

This pocket guide gives a practical but strategic overview for leadership teams of what an energy management system (EnMS) is and how implementing one can bring added value to an organisation. It is not a ‘how to’ book but explains why starting the ‘do is a good strategic decision. 

Energy management is, in one sense, not so much about energy but rather the management of resources. This doesn’t just apply for the organisation but, ultimately, for the wider world. This is one reason why an EnMS can become part of a broader corporate social responsibility approach. 

This book is also a strategic guide to how an EnMS can integrate with an environmental management system (EMS). Many organisations that are considering implementing an EnMS will already have an EMS. An EnMS has similarities to an EMS but there are key differences as well.  

So, an EnMS can be about more than the management of energy; it can also support a wider range of sustainable policies, which can be a catalyst for or simply an outcome of developing an EnMS. 

An EnMS, effectively implemented, can reduce energy costs, aid strategic thinking about longer-term energy savings, increase energy security and support continual improvement for an EMS, as well the energy management processes themselves. Energy consumption is almost always the servant of the core processes that support the production of goods and services, e.g. what pays the bills and stakeholder dividends. 


ISO 50001 – The international standard for an EnMS

ISO 50001:2018 (which we will refer to as ISO 50001, although please be aware there is an earlier version of the Standard) is the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) framework for organisations – both large and small – to manage and reduce their energy use and costs. This pocket guide follows ISO 50001’s principles for an EnMS, but can also be read by those who are using other approaches to their EnMS or wider environmental or sustainability issues. IT Governance Publishing also produces pocket guides on standards such as ISO 14001:2015 (the international standard for an EMS) and ISO 9001:2015 (which specifies the requirements for a quality management system (QMS), which can support an EnMS by providing systems for measurement and analysis of data). These pocket guides detail the individual standards’ requirements and how they can benefit an organisation. There is also a pocket guide on implementing an integrated management system (IMS), which can help those considering integrating their EMS with an EnMS, as well as other standards. 

There are different approaches to energy management, and its importance, whether financial or reputational, to individual organisations varies depending on sector. For example, an EnMS is very relevant to a commercial property management business, where there are a lot of energy-related resources, such as a large estate of office buildings, and where a defined approach to energy management is important to purchasers, tenants and joint venture partners. 

If key energy policy insights and objectives are not determined at the outset, the EnMS journey can become unnecessarily slow or even misdirected. This pocket guide can help you start that journey on the right foot by defining policy and strategy at the earliest stage. 

ISO 50001 is not a technical standard in the sense of expecting particular technological solutions; each EnMS is different and the way that energy consumption is determined, resourced and improved will be different, even if the techniques used often follow a number of common approaches. Sometimes an EnMS will place strong emphasis on monitoring and measuring existing energy consumption, while others might focus on substantial changes to processes and technologies with the aim of reducing or adjusting consumption patterns. Many an EnMS will be somewhere in between. 

An EnMS can also be implemented or reviewed as part of a more built environment methodology, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which is an approach developed in the US but used globally, and the UK’s Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), which also has wider global acceptance. While these were chiefly devised as sustainable design approaches, design has a significant impact on the long-term operation of a building, and both BREEAM and LEED can be adapted as standalone approaches to an organisation’s EnMS. However, both approaches tend to support ISO 50001; LEED, for example, can form the basis of an energy policy and the risk-based approach to energy measurement that ISO 50001 can provide.    


So, what is an EnMS?

An EnMS can be defined in a number of ways. This is the Carbon Trust’s definition:  

Using energy efficiently helps save money as well as helping to conserve resources and tackle climate change. Adoption of the ISO 50001 standard helps energy performance improvement via the development and use of an energy management system (EnMS) based on a model of continual improvement. It can support the integration of energy management into an environmental improvement strategy.  

It is also important to understand what is meant by ‘energy management’. Lloyd’s Register describes it as follows:  

Energy comes in many forms including electricity, gas, oil and steam, and is a resource used by organisations worldwide. Reducing your energy consumption and managing energy efficiency will not only reduce your costs, but will also reduce your carbon footprint and help protect the natural environment. It also reduces your reliance on others to provide the energy you need to operate, hence reducing the risk to your organisation.   

Both quotations express concepts that many senior managers will understand immediately – efficiency, performance, environment, carbon footprint, management and continual improvement. However, understanding them in the context of an EnMS requires a more process-based or holistic approach. 

The quotations also allude to conserving resources and reducing energy consumption as part of an EnMS. Indirectly these concepts reduce the amount of pollution and waste generated as, ultimately, less energy and/or more efficient sources of energy can be deployed once an EnMS is developed. Such concepts could impact both the environmental and energy policies at strategic level. Even if energy was free, producing, distributing and using it would still have an environmental impact. Renewable energy sources have environmental impacts, even if these are considerably less than fossil fuels. 

In other words, using less energy or managing your energy consumption will almost certainly result in less pollution and waste – and an EnMS can help turn good intentions into a reality. This is a key strategic takeaway. Under this sustainable way of thinking, it can also make sense to integrate an EMS with a fledgling EnMS. 

This pocket guide will explain how energy aligns with these concepts and how adopting ISO 50001 can be a vehicle to achieving an EnMS. 


Chapter 1: Why is energy management a strategic issue?

All organisations need to be more competitive. A part of this is using resources efficiently – lower costs can mean higher profits or, at the very least, more effective product or service delivery. Nothing new in that.  

However, energy management is as much about preventing pollution as it is conserving resources. Customers are increasingly aware of wider issues of sustainability – what was 40 years ago the realm of eccentrics is now mainstream and urgent. This is coupled with greater regulation concerning climate change and other environmental matters, which impacts many organisations. Even those who question the validity of climate change cannot deny that fossil fuel energy resources are finite and that world demand for energy is increasing, with parts of the developing world now becoming more industrialised, and consumers expecting a wider range of products.  

It is true that some extraction techniques such as fracking increase the timeline of energy stocks, and new technologies such as biogas can create alternative and more sustainable streams of production. However, these all have their own costs and environmental impacts. Some renewable energy sources have a lower carbon footprint but there is no free ride with any energy source, either financially or in terms of sustainability. More importantly, your customers know it.  

There are many ways to economise energy use, with a number of technologies and systems available to monitor and reduce consumption. ISO 50001 is a way to bring together energy policies and initiatives into a single management system. ‘Clean growth’ is a buzz phrase that in essence means better productivity but fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In October 2017, the UK government introduced the Clean Growth Strategy, which recognises the demand for enormous reductions in carbon emissions to combat climate change, together with a need for cleaner air.  In some markets, consumers are becoming more aware of the need for decarbonisation (the amount – or average amount – of carbon in primary energy that reduces over a defined period of time), and expect their suppliers of goods and services to recognise it. 

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Benefits of an EnMS

  • Better understanding of actual energy use on a periodic basis (depending on the process, this might mean by the day or by the second).
  • More effective leadership focus on energy flows, e.g. setting energy policy and objectives.
  • Better focus of both staff and other interested parties regarding energy use and how it may be more efficiently used. 
  • Smarter use of energy – unnecessary, excessive or inconsistent consumption can be identified and resolved.
  • The risks and opportunities arising from using different energy sources can be examined, including renewable sources. 
  • Capital investment decisions cantake into accountenergy considerations, e.g. new equipment and/or processes that use less energy or have less carbon impact. 

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This is an extract from ISO 50001 – A strategic guide to establishing an energy management system 

©IT Governance Publishing Ltd  

Your strategic guide to energy management and ISO 50001

ISO 50001 – A strategic guide to establishing an energy management systemA succinct guide to energy management for those new to ISO 50001:2018this book provides a practical but strategic overview of what an EnMS is and how implementing one can bring added value to an organisation. It is not a ‘how to’ book but details why establishing an EnMS is a good strategic decision.

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