Organisations are under increasing pressure to regulate their energy usage. Rising costs for water and electricity have coincided with growing concern over the climate crisis, making energy management a financial, social and ecological issue.
It’s why the many organisations are now using an EnMS (energy management system) to help them conserve reduce energy waste and operate more efficiently.
An EnMS has many benefits, such as:
- Lower energy bills;
- Stronger long-term planning;
- Increased energy security; and
- Effective continual improvement.
What is an EnMS?
An EnMS can be defined in several ways. This is definition given by the United Nations:
“An energy management system […] is a framework for energy consumers, including industrial, commercial and public sector organizations, to manage their energy use.
“It helps companies identify opportunities to adopt and improve energy-saving technologies, including those that do not necessarily require high capital investment.
“In most cases, the successful implementation of an EnMS requires specialized expertise and staff training.”
It is also important to understand what is meant by ‘energy management’. Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance describes it as follows:
“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 quotes 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. Ultimately, less energy or more efficient energy sources can be deployed once an EnMS is developed.
Such concepts could impact both the environmental and energy policies strategically. Even if energy were 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.
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.
However, energy management is as much about preventing pollution as conserving resources.
Customers are increasingly aware of broader 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, impacting many organisations.
Even people question climate change cannot deny that fossil fuels are finite and that world demand for energy is increasing.
Indeed, some extraction techniques such as fracking increase the timeline of energy stocks, and new technologies such as biogas can create alternative and more sustainable production streams.
However, these all have their costs and environmental impacts.
Some renewable energy sources have a lower carbon footprint. Still, 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 many 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 essentially 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 – i.e. the amount of carbon in primary energy that reduces over a defined period. In turn, they expect suppliers of goods and services to recognise it.
Benefits of an energy management system
- A better understanding of actual energy use periodically (depending on the process, this might mean by the day or 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 can take into account energy considerations, e.g., new equipment or processes that use less energy or have less carbon impact.
This is an extract from ISO 50001 – A strategic guide to establishing an energy management system
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