In our latest Q&A with Steve Barker, head of energy and environmental care for Siemens Industry UK. We ask the question – how does the new energy management standard ISO 50001 (or EN 16001) encourage energy and cost reduction?

When it comes to energy management strategies, adopting best practice via a powerful combination of executive management support, a systematic approach and the correct application of sustainable technology solutions, can deliver a number of key benefits. It opens the door to quick wins so that companies can maximise the benefits from low cost or no cost improvements to tackle energy management issues. It will also facilitate compliance with regulatory and legislative responsibilities, for example with the CRC EES, and lay the foundations for consistent and long term success that will drive a high return on investment made.

My experience of working with companies is that those that have adopted a robust application of best practice are those that have seen a significant impact. There are many examples of company cost savings being multiplied by a factor of four when compared to others who have tended to rely upon a more ad-hoc approach to energy management strategy and implementation. To back this up, expert analysis also indicates that most sites can save around 20% of their utility consumption using measures that will pay back within a three year period. With correct financing, this can be converted into immediate payback – often providing a positive net cashflow contribution.

Slow adoption

Though the benefits of a systematic and best practice approach are well proven, there appears still to be a reluctance to take this step. Having recently viewed the results of over 2,500 site audits we were surprised to see that only 13 sites could be said to have truly adopted ‘best practice’. This points to the need to vastly increase the take-up of such energy strategies to help drive business value and reduce cost and consumption levels. The really positive news is that these clients can dramatically improve their energy performance in a cost positive manner.

Getting to grips with standards

Internationally recognised energy management standards such as ISO 50001 are not merely a means to an end. On a broad scale, accreditation to such a standard brings with it wider recognition and credibility benefits for an organisation. However, it also does so much more.

On a practical level, adopting such standards will pave the way to improved sustainability reporting and enhanced positioning in the CRC league tables – another area where future reputational damage is a distinct possibility for some businesses.

Energy management standards like ISO 50001 and EN 16001 also promote the PDCA (plan, do, check, act) approach and provide a solid framework for the implementation of a systematic approach to implementing energy management. This is an important first step to the reduction of energy consumption and carbon emissions. Energy management strategies should then be implemented as a long term continuous improvement programme and the adoption of standards can play an important role in ensuring this remains the case going forward.

Successful reductions in energy consumption require the correct analysis and implementation of key technical solutions and this should go hand in hand with a holistic evaluation of solutions embedded in the approach promoted by standards. Such evaluation is important as it will avoid ‘double counting’ of potential opportunities and provide a clearer and more accurate picture of where energy management programmes can drive real value back into a business.

The importance of the correct design, installation and commissioning of potential solutions should also not be underestimated. In many cases, failure to achieve the appropriate results in this area has been identified as the most common cause of problems when it comes to achieving expected returns on investment.

Finally, the importance of an effective employee engagement programme is essential to maximise the benefits of any long term energy management strategy. Explaining objectives and sharing the results with employees can often help increase active employee participation in energy programmes and help support future objectives so that the momentum is maintained going forward.

For those companies who seek the wide scale benefits that an energy management standard would bring, but are put off by supposed additional workload to achieve it, help is at hand. There are a number of standard toolkits on the market that can assist companies in efforts to implement energy management standards. In addition, Siemens has recently developed a cost effective upgrade path for business sites to take them seamlessly from the well known environmental standard ISO 14001 to the upgraded standard ISO 50001.

Accreditation to standards such as ISO 50001 can play its part – alongside the combination of executive support, a systematic approach and the appropriate application of technology. Provided these elements are correctly implemented as part of an ongoing and integrated energy management strategy, this will minimise exposure to energy concerns, maximise energy efficiencies and achieve real business impact.