On September 23, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, recognized 3M Company as a leader in energy management. This honor took place at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF), a ministerial-level international event hosted by the United States in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
To qualify for this national award, 3M established an energy management system certified to ISO 50001, the global energy management standard, and wrote a structured case study to share insights about the process and benefits of setting up the system. The case study was submitted to the global Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) Energy Management Leadership Awards program, which promotes the use of the proven ISO 50001 framework to accelerate the achievement of energy and climate goals. DOE leverages the outcomes of the global awards program to offer a national award to the highest-performing U.S. entry. 3M, as this year’s highest-performing U.S. entry, received the national award from DOE.
3M has a history of superior contributions to achieving sustainability goals. The company established a Corporate Energy Management Department in 1973 and has ever since been setting and attaining sustainability targets. 3M’s 2025 climate & energy sustainability goals stipulate corporate energy efficiency, renewable energy, and carbon neutrality goals. 3M recognizes that all three areas are interconnected – achievements made for energy efficiency will drastically contribute to realizing renewable energy and decarbonization goals.
The company’s energy awareness has led 3M to attain ISO 50001 certification for 56 sites globally. Of those sites, 34 in North America (including 27 in the United States) also achieved DOE’s Superior Energy Performance 50001 (SEP 50001™) program certification. In addition, 3M is a long-time participant in the DOE Better Plants program.
3M’s ISO 50001 journey began with pilot projects at two facilities in 2011 followed by gradual expansion across the enterprise. After a decade of standard maintenance, 3M’s enterprise team has amassed the expertise to build a robust and standardized ISO 50001 implementation plan. 3M conducts energy review processes at each site to identify significant energy uses. Most 3M sites have electrical metering at the sub-station level as well, particularly for large natural gas consumers. As a site’s energy management system matures and the low-hanging fruit are addressed, the local energy team will conduct energy treasure hunts to identify additional energy saving opportunities, from operational controls to more unique capital expenditure projects. Identified projects and opportunities are evaluated for technical and financial feasibility. After implementation, 3M measures energy performance utilizing three key factors: measured energy use normalized for weather, production, and/or occupancy; energy savings from energy projects implemented; and the effectiveness of the energy management system.
Thanks to its dedicated energy management efforts, 3M has lowered operational costs, reduced its carbon footprint, increased energy supply reliability, and strengthened the company’s brand image. Over just the past six years (the period covered in the case study), the company reduced carbon-dioxide-equivalent (CO2-e) emissions by 301,000 metric tons and saved 1,758,000 GJ of energy, for an associated cost savings of $24 million.
3M’s case study articulated factors underlying its success, such as standardizing processes and systems early on, establishing metering capabilities to better understand real-time energy consumption, collaborating continuously across internal groups to better integrate energy into existing processes, and more.
Along with successfully implementing energy management strategies, the company has demonstrated a sustained commitment to raising awareness of best practices and sharing benefits of energy management and ISO 50001, which is the primary purpose of the CEM Energy Management Leadership Awards program. In 2019, 3M earned the international awards program’s top honor, the CEM Award of Excellence in Energy Management (organizations are eligible to receive this particular distinction once only). In 2022, the company received two global Insight Awards, which the CEM confers on ISO 50001-certified entrants from around the world that submit qualifying case studies. 3M submitted two case studies: one discussing energy management efforts in its U.S. facilities and others worldwide and a second focusing on 3M’s efforts in Latin America. Case studies entered through the CEM awards program become part of an online library to encourage, inspire, and assist other organizations looking to improve their energy performance.
During the ceremony at GCEAF in Pittsburgh, the CEM recognized the winners of the global Energy Management Leadership Awards, and DOE recognized 3M as the recipient of the U.S. national award in energy management.
About ISO 50001
The ISO 50001 standard is a cost-effective framework that enables organizations to take control of their energy use and continually reduce costs and emissions. Regardless of an organization’s size or sector, this framework helps maintain and build energy and cost savings year after year. ISO 50001 is a product of international collaboration of more than 50 countries, drawing on best practices that have led to impressive savings. The standard is proven to be business-friendly, globally relevant, and transformational, as it embeds energy saving practices in any organization and provides a global benchmark for clean energy action.
About SEP 50001
DOE's SEP 50001 program, managed by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office, offers certification and elevated levels of recognition to facilities that achieve sustained excellence in energy management.
About the Global Clean Energy Action Forum
The GCEAF is a joint convening of the 13th Clean Energy Ministerial and 7th Mission Innovation ministerial. CEM brings together the world’s largest and leading countries, international organizations, and companies to accelerate clean energy transitions. Mission Innovation is a global initiative catalyzing a decade of action and investment in research, development, and demonstration to make clean energy affordable, attractive, and accessible for all. In 2022, these high-level international organizations joined forces in the first-ever GCEAF, a three-day event that features a high-level plenary, topical roundtables with energy and science ministers from 31 countries, industry leaders and experts, side events, technology demonstrations, and other activities.