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What Is the Superior Energy Performance (SEP) Program?

What Is the Superior Energy Performance (SEP) Program and Why Does It Matter?

Superior Energy Performance (SEP) is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that certifies industrial facilities’ implementation of the ISO 50001 standard and improved energy performance.

The facilities certified in SEP have met the ISO 50001 standard and have improved their energy performance up to 30% over three years.

The ISO 50001 standard provides a framework for organizations to use an energy management system to increase energy efficiency, so the SEP program provides verification that this is standard is being used effectively. In this way, SEP and ISO 50001 work in tandem to provide businesses a replicable framework for implementing energy management systems.

SEP provides certification levels ranging from bronze up to platinum, depending on how much a facility improves its energy performance, which is determined by an independent third party audit.

In addition to the influence of the DOE, SEP was developed by bodies such the U.S. Council for Energy-Efficient Manufacturing, which includes voices from industry, standards authorities, federal agencies, national laboratories, and technical experts. Thus, the program encompasses a wide range of input in order to make it effective.

“While the standards and protocols underlying the SEP program can appear complex, they all share a common purpose – to create an internationally relevant, transparent mechanism for quantifying, verifying, and reporting on the energy performance improvement that results from the implementation and maintenance of a robust [energy management system],” notes The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Why Does SEP Matter?

SEP is important because it verifies that industrial organizations are on the right path to improving energy management.

Considering that the industrial sector consumes nearly one quarter of U.S. energy and one third globally, according to the DOE, it’s particularly important for the industry to be more efficient. Not only does this help environmentally, but industrial facilities themselves benefit economically from using less energy.

And while ISO 50001 can put facilities on the path to increasing efficiency, SEP adds a layer of confirmation and accountability. Plus, if other parties such as clients or vendors see that an organization has qualified for SEP, it can strengthen those relationships. 

Getting Data-Centric

As industrial organizations become more digital and data-driven, represented by the rise of the smart manufacturing sector, SEP plays an important role in supporting industrial organizations’ move down that path. That’s because ISO 50001 puts a framework in place to use data analysis to benchmark and monitor energy performance, so SEP verification ensures that organizations are using data successfully, and they can gain the confidence to become more data-centric in other parts of their businesses.

Even if organizations do not want to go through full certification right now, ISO 50001 and SEP include online tools that can help facilities start to improve energy management, thereby helping these organizations improve operationally while helping meet sustainability goals.

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