ISO 50001 Frequently Asked Questions

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General Information
End-User Implementation

General Information

What is ISO 50001?

ISO 50001 is a voluntary International Standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to provide organizations an internationally recognized framework to manage and improve their energy performance. The standard addresses the following:

  • Energy use and consumption
  • Measurement, documentation, and reporting of energy use and consumption
  • Design and procurement practices for energy-using equipment, systems, and processes
  • Development of an energy management plan and other factors affecting energy performance that can be monitored and influenced by the organization.

ISO 50001 does require continual energy performance improvement but it does not include prescriptive energy performance improvement goals. Rather, it provides a framework through which each organization can set and pursue its own goals for improving energy performance.

What is an energy management system?

An energy management system is a series of processes that enables people of varied responsibilities across an organization to use data and information to maintain and improve energy performance, while improving operational efficiencies, decreasing energy intensity, and reducing environmental impacts.

What is the value of ISO 50001?

In the business world, a popular adage states that you can't manage what you don't measure. This principle applies to the world of energy management—an area of growing interest and concern to enterprises around the world due to its potential to help control costs, boost energy efficiency, improve environmental quality and enhance competitiveness.

Until now, the absence of an internationally recognized energy management standard has inhibited widespread adoption of best energy management practices. The new ISO 50001 international energy management system standard overcomes this barrier and offers organizations a proven approach to develop an energy management plan addressing critical aspects of energy performance—including energy use, measurement, documentation, reporting, design and procurement practices, and other variables affecting energy management that can be measured and monitored.

Adoption of ISO 50001 is important to establish a more systematic and sustainable approach to managing energy within a facility. Conformance to the standard provides proof that a facility has implemented sustainable energy management systems, completed a baseline of its energy use, and committed to continual improvement in energy performance. The value of certification will be driven by market forces within supply chains, potential utility incentive programs requiring ISO 50001, and the standard's relation to future carbon mitigation policies.

Who partnered in the development of ISO 50001?

ISO created Project Committee (PC) 242 to carry out the development of ISO 50001, which includes participation from 59 nations (14 of which are observing). DOE supported the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) role as Secretariat of PC 242 (serving jointly with Brazil), to lead the international development ISO 50001. In addition, DOE contributed actively to the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG), the U.S. delegation to ISO PC 242. The U.S. TAG led international efforts to ensure that ISO 50001 preserves the United States' focus on data-driven energy performance and emphasis on management support.

Following publication of ISO 50001, PC 242 transitioned to a Technical Committee (TC) 242, which will update ISO 50001 as needed and develop a family of related standards, including ISO 50004 (guidance for ISO 50001), ISO 50003 (auditing of ISO 50001 by certification bodies), ISO 50006 (energy performance indicators and energy baselines), etc.. DOE support will help ensure that the new standards will be consistent with U.S. energy policy and strategy. Learn more about ISO/TC 242 and its activities.

Who are the intended users of ISO 50001?

ISO 50001 applies to industrial plants; commercial, institutional, or governmental facilities; and entire organizations. ISO 50001 provides benefits for organizations large and small, in both public and private sectors, in manufacturing and services, in all regions of the world.

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End-User Implementation

Why should my company care about ISO 50001?

Energy is a critical component of an organization's operations and can be one of the largest controllable costs, depending on the activities. Improved energy performance helps organizations maximize the use of their energy sources and energy-related assets, thus reducing both energy cost and consumption. ISO 50001 provides a framework for organizations to make positive contributions toward reducing depletion of energy resources and mitigating worldwide effects of energy use, such as global warming, while improving the efficiency of organizational operations related to energy.

How is ISO 50001 related to the 50001 Ready program?

DOE’s 50001 Ready program recognizes organizations that establish the foundational structure of ISO 50001 in industrial, commercial, and institutional facilities. Recognition through the program does not require any third-party audits or certifications. Rather, 50001 Ready is designed for self-paced, self-attested implementation of the business culture of continuous energy improvement supported by ISO 50001. Learn more about the 50001 Ready program

How is ISO 50001 related to Superior Energy Performance?

Superior Energy Performance is a voluntary, facility-level industrial certification program. SEP provides guidance, tools, and protocols to drive deeper, more sustained savings from ISO 50001. To become SEP certified, facilities must meet the ISO 50001 standard and demonstrate improved energy performance. An independent third party audits each facility to verify achievements and qualify it at the Silver, Gold, or Platinum level, based on performance. This certification emphasizes measureable savings through a transparent process. Learn more about Superior Energy Performance.

How does ISO 50001 fit with existing Management Systems (e.g., ISO 9001, ISO 14001)?

ISO 50001 is based on the same management system model of continual improvement used for ISO 9001 and 14001. This compatibility makes it easier for organizations to integrate energy management into their quality and environmental management efforts. However, ISO 50001 adds new data-driven sections related to energy planning, operational control, and measuring and monitoring.

What initial steps can my company take to prepare for adopting ISO 50001?
  • Purchase ISO 50001.
  • Take preparatory steps toward establishing an energy management system (EnMS):
    • Develop an energy policy that includes commitment to the EnMS from top management
    • Identify a management representative to lead implementation of the EnMS
    • Establish a team of representatives from major functional areas of the organization
    • Decide on the boundaries of the EnMS
  • Once prepared, get started with implementing an EnMS:
    • Undertake an energy review to identify significant energy uses, their energy consumption, and opportunities for improvement
    • Establish an energy baseline
    • Identify energy performance indicators for tracking energy performance improvement against the baseline
  • For additional guidance, DOE and other organizations offer technical resources to assist with implementation with energy management.
  • Get started with ISO 50001 by getting recognized through the 50001 Ready program for self-attested implementation of energy management business practices.
  • Consider Superior Energy Performance (SEP) certification early on in the process of implementing an EnMS. SEP provides guidance, tools, and protocols to drive deeper, more sustained savings from ISO 50001. Learn more about the business case for SEP.
What technical assistance is available from DOE and other organizations to help companies implement ISO 50001?

DOE has compiled technical resources and opportunities to help you get started implementing an energy management system, whether your company decides to pursue ISO 50001 or not. The 50001 Ready Navigator Help Desk is available to provide expert guidance for all of your energy management questions. Visit the SEP Toolbox and Expertise to learn more.

Who will certify my facility, company, or organization for ISO 50001?

The ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) assesses and accredits certification bodies that are competent to certify organizations conforming to ISO 50001. ANAB-accredited ISO 50001 Certification Bodies employ certified ISO 50001 Auditors to assess an organization's or facility's conformance to ISO 50001. Search the ANAB directory for an ANAB-accredited Certification Body for ISO 50001.

Organizations that would like to become an accredited Certification Body for ISO 50001 may visit ANAB to learn about the ANAB accreditation requirements and application process.

Does my organization need to be certified to ISO 50001 to improve our energy management?

No. Organizations can take steps to start improving energy management without becoming certified. However, certification to ISO 50001 provides a structured approach that incorporates energy management into company culture, resulting in sustained energy savings and continual improvements in energy performance over time. This can help justify initial investments in energy projects and ensure return on investment. Without a structured approach, there is no guarantee that energy savings will be sustained or that return-on-investment will be maximized.

What kinds of professionals can help my organization implement ISO 50001?

See the Professional Assistance section for more detail.

WHAT IS THE global Energy Management Working Group?


The Energy Management Working Group (EMWG) seeks to accelerate broad use of energy management systems (EnMS) in industry and commercial buildings worldwide. The EMWG's member governments work together to identify and evaluate EnMS activities, opportunities, strategies, and best practices—working with industry and others as appropriate. Governments participating in the EMWG include Australia, Canada, Chile, China (observer), the European Commission, Finland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and the United States. The EMWG was launched in 2010 by the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) and the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC).




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The 50001 Ready program recognizes organizations that establish an energy management system and self-attest to the structure of ISO 50001 in industrial, commercial, and institutional facilities. The program prepares and encourages facilities to pursue certification by providing user-friendly navigation through the proven principles of ISO 50001.


SEP Assists ISO 50001 Uptake in the United States

The Superior Energy Performance® (SEP™) certification program was created to accelerate broad use of ISO 50001 by U.S. industry.

SEP provides technical resources to help facilities implement ISO 50001—and recognition for demonstrating energy management excellence and sustaining energy savings.


Energy Management Promoted Worldwide

International governments are collaborating to accelerate worldwide use of energy management systems in industry and commercial buildings through the Clean Energy Ministerial Energy Management Working Group (EMWG).