ISO Energy Management Standards


Most readers of this magazine are familiar with the ISO 9000 and 14000 families of standards. The 9000 family pertains to quality management systems and the 14000 family deals with environmental management. These are probably the best known management standards in the world. Late next year, there will be another international management standard that is expected to be more widely adopted than either of the two standards above. That new standard will be ISO 50001.

In late 2007, the national standards organizations for the United States (American National Standards Institute – ANSI) and Brazil (AssociaÁ„o Brasileira de Normas TÈcnicas – ABNT) proposed a new field of technical activity for ISO. This new field will add energy management to the ISO stable of standards. The proposed scope states:

Standardization in the field of energy management, including: energy supply, procurement practices for energy using equipment and systems, energy use, and any use-related disposal issues. The standard will also address measurement of current energy usage, and implementation of a measurement system to document, report, and validate continuous improvement in the area of energy management.

I recently had a chance to speak with Rob Steele, the new Secretary – General of ISO, about energy management standards:

When and how did ISO become interested in an energy management standard?

Rob Steele: For some time, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) had recognized industry’s need to mount an effective response to climate change and to the proliferation of national energy management standards.

In March 2007, UNIDO hosted a meeting of experts, including representatives from the ISO Central Secretariat and nations that have adopted energy management standards. That meeting led to submission of a UNIDO communication to the ISO Central Secretariat requesting that ISO consider undertaking work on an international energy management standard.

ISO’s US member, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) made a formal proposal for ISO to establish a committee on this subject. In February 2008, the ISO Technical Management Board (TMB) approved the establishment of a new project committee, ISO/PC 242, Energy management, to develop the future ISO 50001 management system standard for energy.

Prior to joining ISO I actually worked with the UNIDO team as a standards expert. I was privileged to work with Bob Williams and Marco Matteini of UNIDO, Aimee McKane of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and of course Wayne Perry from Kaiser Compressors and to participate in workshops in Thailand, China and Brazil. So I have more than a little interest in the development of this standard as well.

Why is another standard needed? Can’t energy be managed with an existing standard such as ISO 14000 or other existing national standards?

Rob Steele: ISO's current portfolio of more than 17,800 International Standards includes over 100 related to specific energies. Benefit was seen in developing a new global approach to systematically addressing energy performance in organizations of all types – pragmatically addressing energy efficiency and related climate change impacts. This approach has been well proven in the environmental area. ISO has more than 350 standards addressing specific environmental issues, such as standardized sampling, testing and analytical methods for the monitoring of the quality of air, water and the soil. However, the development of the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems offers a holistic framework for controlling and reducing the environmental impact of any type of organization, and for improving its environmental performance. ISO 50001 will follow the management system approach which has proved so successful with ISO 14001 for environmental management and ISO 9001 for quality management.
The benefit of developing an ISO International Standard is that it distills worldwide experience and expertise. In addition, based on international consensus, it will be developed for global relevance and will provide an internationally harmonized, understood and accepted approach to energy management. National standards may not benefit from such broad input and, with their differing requirements, may pose technical barriers to trade.


  Mr. Rob Steele, ISO Secretary-General

Rob Steele took up the post of ISO Secretary-General on January 1, 2009. Rob Steele was the Chief Executive Officer of Standards New Zealand (SNZ) until 2007. He is a Chartered Accountant, a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors, and a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management. Since leaving SNZ, Rob Steele has provided advice to organizations both in New Zealand and overseas on strategic business and standards issues; assisted regulators and standards organizations in several countries to develop strategies in public policy and standardization; and worked with a United Nations specialized agency in three countries on energy efficiency systems and an international standard for industry. Rob Steele was Secretary of the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) from 2002 to April 2007. During his tenure as CEO of the New Zealand standards body, he represented SNZ on ISO's governance bodies where he was involved in developing policies on the global relevance of International Standards and led an ad hoc group to develop recommendations on ISO’s strategy on management system standards.


How broad is the interest in this standard?

Rob Steele: Currently, thirty-four ISO national members’ bodies from all regions of the world are participating in the development of ISO 50001, with another six as observers, while UNIDO and the World Energy Council have liaison status.

How does the standard development process work?

Rob Steele: ISO standards are developed within technical committees or subcommittees dedicated to a specific technology or industry sector by national delegations of experts from countries interested in the work. When consensus is reach on the content of the standard, it is circulated to ISO's worldwide membership for balloting and comment, first as a draft, then a final draft, before publication as an International Standards

Tell me a little about PC 242. What is the purpose of the PC? Who chairs the group? Where and when do they meet?

Rob Steele: "PC" stands for "Project Committee" which works like a technical committee, but which has been established to focus on a single standard and which is disbanded once its work is finished. PC 242, Energy management, was specifically set up to develop ISO 50001. It has a twinned secretariat from a developed country and a developing country, provided by, namely, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and ISO’s national member for Brazil, AssociaÁ„o Brasileira de Normas TÈcnicas (ABNT). The Chair is Edwin Pinero (USA).

The first meeting of PC 242 was held on 8-10 September 2008 in Washington, DC. As part of the proceedings, delegates described various national or organizational initiatives in detail. For example, a presentation was given by UNIDO on the preparatory work the organization has carried out to support the ISO process by researching energy management needs in developing countries.

This gave PC 242 an insight into the different policies and situations around the world which need to be taken into account in the development of a globally relevant International Standard for energy management.

Excellent progress was made in the technical discussions and a first working draft has already been created. Publication of ISO 50001 is targeted by the end of 2010.

Is the standard going to be based on any existing standards? Will companies who already implement ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 be able to easily implement this new standard?

Rob Steele: PC 242 has already taken the key decision to base the standard on the common elements found in all of ISO’s management system standards. This will ensure maximum compatibility with key standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

It is anticipated that the standard will be based on the same management system principles, such as continual improvement, and use the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle employed in these standards.

How does ISO see the importance of ISO 50001 in relationship to other ISO standards?

Rob Steele: The vast majority of ISO standards are specific to a product, service, material, process, technology or practice. In combination with these, standards like ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 provide a systematic, holistic framework for managing the organizational processes related to these products and services in order to address challenges faced by any organization, regardless of its activity, such as quality and environmental management.

ISO has identified energy management as one of the top five fields meriting the development and promotion of International Standards. Effective energy management is a priority focus because of the significant potential to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide.

Existing ISO standards for quality management systems and environmental management systems have successfully stimulated substantial, continual efficiency improvements within organizations around the globe. ISO 50001 is expected to similarly achieve major, long-term increases in energy efficiency – 20 % or more in industrial facilities.


I would like to thank Rob Steele for taking time out of what has to be a very busy schedule to comment on ISO 50001. If you would like more information about this standard, you can contact:

  1. Director of the ISO standardsdevelopment team, Trevor Vyze .
  2. ISO/PC 242 Secretary, Jason Knopes, of ANSI.
  3. Co-Secretary Felipe Viera, of ABNT.

For more information please contact Wayne Perry or visit