ISO 50001: Guidance documents are on the way
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Author(s): Robert Bruce Lung

ISO 50001 is the first ISO standard for managing energy performance improvement. As we’ve previously reported, ISO 50001 provides a standard methodology for a wide range of stakeholders—industrial, commercial and institutional—to establish systems and processes to manage energy and improve energy performance transparently. 

New Insights for End Users

Since the release of ISO 50001 in June 2011, many organizations have purchased the standard and some have since achieved conformance with it. However, in some cases, conformance has taken longer due to the need for additional clarity and interpretation guidance of some provisions in the standard. To facilitate more rapid and widespread adoption, the ISO Technical Committee that developed the standard (TC242) has begun developing the companion Guidance Documents, which will provide technical background and application details for utilizing ISO 50001 that are intended to help stakeholders understand the full intent of the standard.

Four separate working groups have been formed to expound on different core subject areas related to ISO 50001. The intent is that the resulting guidance documents: ISO 50002, ISO 17588, ISO 17570, ISO 17580, ISO 50003 and ISO 50004, will enhance end users’ understanding of ISO 50001, provide guidance on its implementation and maximize its potential benefits.

• ISO 50002 will provide guidance on energy auditing. This document is the most advanced of all four and is likely to come out first. It addresses principles of an energy audit including confidentiality, transparency, and the audit process. This guide includes a series of annexes that addresses different types of audits for industry, buildings, transportation and services.

• ISO 17588, 17570 and 17580(1) address selecting, establishing and maintaining energy performance indicators (EnPI), their corresponding baselines and measurement & verification. This is likely to include the steps in selecting EnPIs, developing baselines, characteristics of significant energy uses and appropriate reasons to change a baseline. According to one member of the U.S. TAG, Joe Almaguer, “the guidance documents need to keep the end-user in mind to ensure its maximum effectiveness in helping organizations manage their energy performance and continually effect improvement.”

• ISO 50003 will provide guidance on the conformity assessment of the Energy Management System (EnMS), which is a crucial part of successful conformance with ISO 50001. The document will specify the elements in the auditing process and competence requirements of personnel involved in the audit. This includes the audit plan, audit team selection, audit time and audit report.

• ISO 50004 will provide guidance on implementation, maintenance and improvement of the EnMS that is created when an organization decides to adopt ISO 50001. This document will encompass a wide variety of topics including determining the scope of an EnMS, management responsibility, identifying significant energy uses, prioritizing improvement opportunities, competence of personnel, communication, documentation, procurement, monitoring, conducting internal audits, non-conformity, corrective action and management evaluation the EnMS. 

Understanding How to Implement ISO 50001

Once completed, the guidance documents will provide the necessary background and supporting information to assist in applying ISO 50001. By addressing significant core concepts within ISO 50001, these guidance documents will help enable industrial plant personnel to more effectively conform with the standard. These guidance documents do not set new requirements.

The guidance documents are expected to be published by late 2013 to early 2014 and should be available on the ISO’s website.


Last updated: 01/22/2013
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