How Companies Can Implement ISO 50001 and the SEP Protocols
As companies look for ways to improve energy management to save money and boost sustainability, they can turn to standards such as ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance (SEP) that provide frameworks for increasing energy efficiency.
The ISO 50001 standard provides a basis for organizations to implement an energy management system for increasing energy efficiency, without specifying targets, while the SEP program, administered by the U.S Department of Energy (DOE), certifies ISO 50001 implementation as well as that certain energy efficiency targets have been reached.
Getting Started with ISO 50001
Before a company can follow SEP, it needs to implement ISO 50001. This standard follows the Plan-Do-Check-Act format, which starts with conducting an energy review and establishing a baseline of energy usage to then develop a plan for improving energy efficiency.
The “Do” stage then includes putting that plan into practice, which flows into the “Check” stage that includes using analytics to see how the plan is going and report the results. Finally, the standard includes the “Act” stage, which means organizations act to continually improve their energy management systems.
“In implementing ISO 50001, you are transitioning your energy management program to an energy management system (EnMS). This involves activities and processes designed to embed energy management into your daily operations. In short, energy management becomes part of your organizational culture and an integrated element in how your organization conducts its business,” notes the DOE.
Certifying with SEP
Implementing SEP protocol certification indicates that an organization has successfully adopted ISO 50001, and it goes one step further by confirming a certain level of improved energy management.
To complete SEP certification, a company needs a third-party auditor, accredited by The ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB), to make sure it is following ISO 50001, and that it meets the additional SEP requirements, which include certain percentages of energy performance improvement over time.
Follow Detroit’s Lead
An example of how companies can implement SEP protocols and ISO 50001, companies can look to organizations such as Daimler’s Detroit Diesel Corporation, which received Platinum SEP certification for its facility in Detroit. To do so, the company used the ISO 50001 guidance to develop clear roles and responsibilities for its energy management team to then perform an analysis on how the facility used energy and where there was room for improvement.
This review then led to the facility doubling the number of Wi-Fi meters it uses, so that staff could understand energy usage on a detailed level, including being able to monitor individual machines. By putting these processes in place, Detroit Diesel improved energy performance by almost 33% over a decade, despite production increasing by 93% during that time.
Other organizations can follow this lead, such as better defining employee roles and installing meters to perform deeper energy analysis, to put these protocols into practice. The DOE notes that implementing SEP protocols can take as little as 12-18 months, with most facilities using 3 years of data to show improved energy performance. As the case with Detroit Diesel shows, the payoff can be large, with better performance over several years, even as a company grows.
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