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A standard that saves energy, saves money

10 May, 2013

ISO 50001 offers a framework and strategy for systematic management of energy use. Steve Brambley, Gambica’s deputy director*, explains why the standard makes perfect business sense for all organisations, irrespective of their size, sector or location.

The standard known as ISO 50001:2011 - Energy management system is based on the management system model of continual improvement also used for other well-known standards, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Using the same approach, it helps companies to integrate energy management into their efforts to improve quality and environmental management.

The immediately obvious advantage of decreasing energy consumption is the consequent reduction in your electricity bills – which sends savings straight to the bottom line. By reducing energy consumption, companies can lessen the impact of the rising cost of fuels, acting as an effective insurance against future changes to the energy supply and tariff rises.

What’s in the standard?

ISO 50001:2011 provides a framework of requirements for organisations to:

• develop a policy for more efficient use of energy;

• fix targets and objectives to implement the policy;

• use data to better understand and make decisions about energy use;

• measure the results;

• review how well the policy works; and

• continually improve energy management.

ISO 50001 aims to enable businesses to apply a systematic approach to achieving continual improvement of energy performance, including energy efficiency, energy security, energy use and consumption. The standard helps companies to reduce their energy use continually, and thus their energy costs and carbon emissions.

Taking a systematic approach to energy saving has been proved to be much more effective than taking an ad hoc approach. The continuous improvement cycle recommended by the standard compels business owners to follow procedures and remain focused on achieving their energy goals. 

There are several ways that businesses, irrespective of their industry sector, can reduce their energy consumption. To begin with, all organisations use some (if not all) of the following on their premises: lighting, heating, ventilation, refrigeration, air movement and air conditioning.

As most of these applications use electric motors, they can be rendered more efficient by adding motor control. Switching off motors when not needed, or reducing the speed to match the output requirements, can save considerable amounts of energy. When two-thirds of industrial electricity consumption is used to power electric motors, any efficiency gains can make a huge contribution. When turning down the speed of a pump or fan by 20% can halve the energy consumed, then those savings can be significant.

Another way in which energy consumption can be controlled more effectively is through other forms of control automation. The main benefit of this in your premises comes from being able to switch processes off or reduce their power in response to the environment. Most of the highest-profile energy-efficient technologies of the last few years – such as lean-burn car engines and domestic boilers – have largely been the result of incorporating modern automation, sensing and control technologies into the equipment. This effect can be scaled up to machines, production lines and entire processing plants.

Regardless of your company’s size, scope, ambitions and goals, using energy sensibly and responsibly can help to cut running costs and to raise the environmental profile of your business.  Complying with energy-saving standards shouldn’t be regarded as yet another hoop to jump through, but rather as a crucial part of your business strategy that will reduce expenditure and increase profit.

* Gambica is the trade association for the automation, control, instrumentation and laboratory technology sectors in the UK. For more information, please contact the deputy director, Steve Brambley, on 020 7642 8090 or via

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