Energy management is now in the global spotlight, due to the significant potential to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Energy-saving technologies and facilities are only part of the methodologies for improving energy efficiency. A more sensible and systematic approach to improve enterprise energy performance sustainably is to establish and implement a standardized, process-based energy management structure. The ISO 50001 Energy Management System (EnMS) standard is a globally accepted framework for managing energy, providing technical and management strategies for enterprises to increase energy efficiency, reduce costs, and improve environmental performance.
ISO 50001 is an international standard that can be used for certification and will affect up to 60% of the world's energy use. The International Organization for Standardization published this international standard on 15 June 2011. It provides a framework for integrating energy aspects into companies' existing management systems for continuous improvement. The standard provides guidelines on EnMS development for industrial plants, commercial facilities, and entire organizations to manage all aspects of energy, including procurement and use. Enterprises can also use ISO 50001 as a tool to reduce energy intensity use and carbon emissions in their own facilities and to benchmark their achievements. ISO 50001 adopts the same management system principles of continual improvement and uses the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach as employed in ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards that enhance compatibility with these management systems.
The ISO 50001 standard is of high relevance to local SMEs for five reasons. Firstly, an EnMS brings direct economic benefits in the form of reduced energy costs. Secondly, China has national policy and law to encourage energy conservation. Thirdly, local SMEs must not lag behind industry counterparts in other areas which have been actively adopting the standard. Fourthly, global corporations may also increasingly demand their suppliers including local SMEs to adopt the standard. Fifthly, the pressing global problem of climate change will make energy reduction an obligation for organizations.
By implementing an EnMS, SMEs will be able to:
- increase energy efficiency, reduce cost and improve environmental performance with respect to energy use;
- enhance competitiveness;
- build up the green image;
- comply with international standard and best practices; and
- accelerate technology upgrade/transfer.