In today’s world, which is increasingly focused on sustainable development, energy efficiency has become a crucial topic for companies worldwide. In the European Union, the Directive on Energy Efficiency imposes an obligation on enterprises (non-SMEs) to conduct energy audits or implement an energy management system in accordance with the ISO 50001 standard. However, how do you choose the right path to energy efficiency and make a decision between an energy audit and ISO 50001?
In this article, we explore the key characteristics of an energy audit and the ISO 50001 standard, providing insights into their advantages and costs to help you make a decision that will lead your company towards sustainable energy efficiency.
In the European Union, the Directive on Energy Efficiency (EED) stipulates that large entreprises are required to conduct energy audits or implement an energy management system in accordance with European or international standards (such as ISO 50001), which includes the obligation to conduct an energy audit.
This obligation applies to enterprises that employ an average of at least 250 people during the business year and meet one of the two additional criteria for categorizing companies as large enterprises in accordance with the law governing the accounting of entrepreneurs.
The procedure for conducting energy audits for large companies, conditions for issuing and revoking authorizations for energy audits for large companies, and other issues related to authorization for energy audits for large companies, as well as the content and method of keeping the register, are prescribed by the Regulation on Energy Audits for Large Enterprises (Narodne Novine, No. 123/15, 5/20, and 97/21).
What is an energy audit for large enterprises?
During an energy audit for large enterprises, a detailed analysis of all energy and water systems and consumers, including buildings and vehicle fleets (if the company uses more than 50 registered vehicles or if the combined power of all registered company vehicles exceeds 3000 kW), is conducted with the aim of identifying and reporting the flow of energy and water within the company.
Based on the analysis of the collected data, a proposal for specific measures to improve the energy efficiency of the enterprise is developed, along with associated costs, through an analysis of potential energy efficiency measures, taking into account ecological and economic justifications, as well as the lifespan of the proposed measures.
However, large enterprises are not obligated to implement the proposed energy efficiency measures, and therefore energy audits often provide a one-time snapshot of energy consumption but do not offer a systematic approach for managing energy consumption over a longer period.
The costs related to an energy audit for large enterprises are defined through quotes from registered auditors and depend on the nature of the enterprise. An energy audit is a complex process that requires a higher level of engagement from external parties, and it is natural that substantial financial resources are needed. Energy audits need to be repeated every four years.
What is an Energy Management System (ISO 50001)?
The implementation of an Energy Management System (EnMS), also known as ISO 50001, involves an energy audit of the existing condition of buildings, facilities and processes, as well as an analysis of energy and water consumption, making it an acceptable alternative to a traditional energy audit.
However, the implementation of an Energy Management System goes beyond just an audit. It also establishes an energy policy and strategic energy objectives, along with processes and procedures to achieve these goals. Companies are required to continuously monitor, measure and improve energy efficiency to ensure continuous optimization of energy consumption. This is achieved through cycles of internal and external audits, and recertification.
By implementing an Energy Management System, companies demonstrate their commitment to improving energy efficiency, reducing energy costs and minimizing negative impacts on the environment.
The costs associated with the implementation and maintenance of the ISO 50001 standard include:
- Training costs for internal audit teams
- Initial audit and certification costs
- Periodic surveillance audits (usually conducted once a year)
- Recertification audits (every three years).
These costs are defined by offers from authorized certification bodies.
For companies that have already implemented the basic ISO 9001 standard the management model is well-known and applying the same model to another segment of the company, such as energy management, will be more manageable.
Which path to choose – energy audit or ISO 50001?
Both paths lead to the same goal if the sole objective is to fulfill the legal obligation. In that case, many will opt for the method of “least resistance,” choosing what takes less time, creates no additional obligations and preferably requires no significant financial resources.
However, as sustainability becomes increasingly important in everyday business, interest in professional energy management systems is continuously growing. Considering the expansion of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting obligations, certification to the ISO 50001 standard can be beneficial for companies aiming to improve their ESG rating and demonstrate their social responsibility.
In summary, the implementation of the ISO 50001 standard is recommended for companies that want to enhance their energy efficiency and reduce energy costs, as this systematic approach ensures continuous optimization of energy consumption and sustainable energy savings.