Energy Audit or Energy Management System?
In today’s era, as the world strives towards sustainable development, energy efficiency has become a critical concern, especially for large companies. The European Energy Efficiency Directive even imposes an obligation on large companies (large energy consumers) to carry out energy audits every four years or to introduce an energy management system in accordance with European or international standards (such as the ISO 50001 standard), which excludes the obligation performing an Energy Audit.
So, what to choose? Each approach has its own advantages and limitations, making it crucial for companies to assess their options and select the one that best aligns with their needs and goals.
ISO 50001: Energy Management System.
An Energy Management System (EMS) is a set of procedures that enable companies to utilize data and information to maintain and improve energy efficiency. The system improves operational efficiency, reduces energy consumption, and minimizes environmental impact.
The purpose of an Energy Management System according to ISO 50001 standard is to establish the systems and processes necessary to improve energy efficiency. The standard is based on the methodology of continuous improvement (Plan-Do-Check-Act), which integrates energy management into the daily practices of an organization and is a key component of comprehensive environmental sustainability in business operations.
It is assumed that the ISO 50001 standard can contribute to
savings of up to 60% of global energy consumption.
The implementation of the ISO 50001 standard, through systematic energy management, is expected to lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (and other associated environmental impacts) as well as energy costs.
The standard outlines specific requirements for an energy management system that enables organizations to develop and implement an energy policy. It allows for the establishment of framework and operational goals and action plans that take into account legal requirements and information on significant energy use. It enables companies to fulfill their commitments from their policy, take necessary actions to improve energy efficiency, and demonstrate the compliance of their system with the standard’s requirements.
Benefits of Implementing and Certifying ISO 50001:
✅ Improved energy efficiency,
✅ Improving the management of energy consumption,
✅ Reducing energy costs,
✅ Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental responsibility,
✅ Comprehensive control over energy consumption,
✅ Digitization of energy data,
✅ Compliance with legal regulations and guidelines,
✅ Improving the external and corporate image and reputation of the company,
✅ Overall customer satisfaction and retention,
✅ Systematic improvement of processes,
✅ Increased awareness of employees and management about energy efficiency.
Energy Audit: Assessment of the Current State.
An energy audit involves a detailed analysis of all buildings, systems, equipment, and other energy and water consumers. The objective of the audit is to assess and present the current state of energy and water usage within the company and to outline potential measures for reducing energy consumption, costs, and CO2 emissions. These measures encompass organizational actions, typically requiring no investment, as well as investment-based actions, considering possible annual savings, payback period, investment amount, and the priority of implementing each measure.
Companies are not obligated to implement the recommended energy efficiency measures, which is why energy audits often provide a one-time snapshot of energy consumption. This doesn’t ensure a systematic approach to managing energy consumption over the long term. In addition, large companies are required to renew these audits every four years.
Benefits of an Energy Audit:
✅ Lower energy costs,
✅ Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,
✅ Increasing energy efficiency,
✅ Caring for the environment,
✅ Customized reports and analyses,
✅ Recognition of incorrect equipment operation,
✅ Longer lifetime of equipment,
✅ Increased employee safety,
✅ Added value of the company.
An energy audit enables the rapid identification of urgent measures, potentially leading to quick energy and cost savings. Additionally, it serves as valuable guidance for the future, as the audit results serve as the foundation for developing a long-term strategy for effective energy management.
What are the main differences between an energy audit and an energy management system.
An energy audit is key to identifying immediate opportunities for improvements in a company’s energy consumption. It is a time-limited process with the goal of identifying and implementing changes that will immediately reduce energy consumption. This can include simple measures like changes in work habits or maintenance procedures, as well as larger investments such as replacing all lighting with energy-efficient lamps. An energy audit is focused on the short term and has the potential for quick and measurable results.
On the other hand, an energy management system represents a long-term strategy for achieving sustainable energy goals. It is based on continuous monitoring, analysis, and optimization of energy consumption in real-time. The system follows the “plan-do-check-act” cycle, meaning that actions for improvement are planned, implemented, their effectiveness is checked, and then adjustments are made based on the results. An energy management system is oriented towards long-term energy consumption reduction and improving energy efficiency. It encompasses all aspects of the company, including organizational culture, employee education, equipment and process monitoring, and a constant search for and implementation of new innovative solutions for more efficient energy usage.
In summary, an energy audit is focused on quick improvements and immediate energy savings, while an energy management system is oriented towards a long-term strategy for sustainable energy efficiency and continuous, comprehensive optimization of the company's energy system.
Differences between an energy audit and an energy management system
So what to decide.
The choice a company makes depends on its strategic direction, desired outcomes, and priorities. An energy audit and an energy management system are two different yet complementary tools that offer different approaches to effective energy management.
If a company seeks quick savings and immediate improvements, an energy audit would be more suitable. On the other hand, a company aiming for long-term sustainable growth and continuous improvement will probably choose an energy management system. If a company already has an established environmental management system in line with ISO 14001, ISO 50001 can be integrated with existing systems since it is based on a more detailed review, planning, measurement, and analysis specific to energy efficiency, not covered in the fundamentals of ISO 14001.
It is crucial for the company to carefully assess its goals, values, and circumstances and choose an approach that best aligns with its business vision and environmental responsibility.