ESOS compliance & ISO 50001 – which is the best route for you?

With ESOS Phase 2 appearing on the horizon, many businesses are beginning to consider what their most effective route to compliance is. With the three routes to compliance that were primarily used by qualifying businesses for ESOS Phase 1 expected to remain broadly similar for Phase 2, and the timeline for compliance taking anywhere up to 12 months, now is the time for businesses to decide which routes suit them the most.

What routes were used for Phase 1?

1.    In-house audits

A limited number of organisations, predominantly those with experienced, qualified energy professionals, chose to perform the energy efficiency audits mandated by ESOS in-house, before obtaining external Lead Assessor (LA) sign off and notifying the Environment Agency.

Whilst cost effective, the drawback to this route is that given everything was performed in house, any opportunities identified during the exercise would inherently have already been known to the business, limiting the usefulness of the entire endeavour.

2.    Outsource energy efficiency audits and Lead Assessor sign off to a consultancy

The majority of businesses chose to outsource energy efficiency audits to external consultancies with greater levels of expertise in energy management. This option also required businesses to obtain LA sign off before notifying the EA of their compliance.

The main advantage to selecting this route was that businesses gained an outside perspective and were able to identify energy/cost saving opportunities that they may not have previously been aware of. Selecting this route to compliance also meant that businesses could achieve compliance in relatively short time periods (i.e. < 3 months) – crucial given that many organisations didn’t identify the need to comply until close to the deadline.

3.    Establish an ISO 50001 Energy Management System (EnMS)

The final route to compliance for ESOS Phase 2, implementing a fully certified ISO 50001 EnMS, was predominantly chosen by the most proactive businesses given the slightly longer timescales involved – designing, implementing and certifying an EnMS generally takes 6-12 months from start to finish. Indeed, many of those who utilised ISO 50001 as a route to compliance would likely have already had the system in place pre-ESOS.

With many businesses now aware of Phase 2 far earlier than they were of Phase 1, we anticipate a larger proportion of businesses will utilise ISO 50001 as their route to compliance.

Why would I choose ISO 50001?

ISO 50001 provides businesses with a globally recognised framework for managing and improving energy performance. As such, it goes beyond the opportunity identification stage mandated by ESOS and facilitates continual improvement in energy management. Put simply, ISO 50001 goes above and beyond the requirements of ESOS.

The advantages to selecting ISO 50001 include:

  • Increased focus on energy performance at all levels of the organisation
  • Reduction in energy usage, carbon footprint and associated costs through continual improvement
  • Easy demonstration of sustainability credentials to stakeholders
  • Development of energy-related policies, targets and objectives
  • Provision of a business-wide framework that efficiently facilitates savings across multiple sites
  • Increased senior management buy in

Straight forward integration with existing management system, such as ISO 14001 or ISO 9001

Where to start

If you decide that ISO 50001 is the most effective route to compliance for your organisation then the next steps will vary depending on your current position:

  1. We have an ISO 50001 EnMS that is valid on the compliance date and covers >90% of our energy consumption – All you need to do is get a board level director to confirm they have reviewed the findings of your ISO 50001 and that the information being submitted is correct. Once this is done, you can make a notification to the Environment Agency online.
  2. We have an ISO 50001 EnMS but it covers less than 90% of total energy consumption – In this situation, you have 2 options: 1) expand the scope of your EnMS to cover at least 90% of your energy consumption (remember this includes transport as well as building energy) or 2) combine your EnMS with additional ESOS energy audits that takes the percentage of energy covered beyond 90%.
  3. We don’t have an ISO 50001 EnMS but we do have an ISO 14001 EMS – The good news is that integrating an ISO 50001 EnMS with an ISO 14001 EMS is generally quicker than establishing an EnMS from scratch due the overlap of many of the requirements of each, such as identifying compliance obligations etc. You should start with a gap analysis to identify the elements of crossover between the EnMS and the EMS and establish what additional policies and processes you  need to implement to integrate the two systems. Remember to ensure that your ISO 50001 covers at least 90% of your total energy consumption!
  4. We don’t have any management systems in place – There are a number of preparatory steps towards establishing an EnMS that you can take now including developing an energy policy (including commitment from top management), identifying a management representative, deciding on your EnMS boundaries and so on. Once the preparation is complete, you can get started on implementing your EnMS by establishing an energy baseline, identifying performance indicators and undertaking energy reviews to identify significant energy uses and opportunities for improvement. Carbon Smart can help you at every stage of this journey.

There’s little doubt that choosing ISO 50001 as your route to ESOS compliance will have the most beneficial impact on your businesses long term energy performance and sustainability aspirations. You should note that consequently the timelines involved can be slightly longer; design and implementation usually takes between 6 to 12 months. In order to fully realise the massive potential benefits of ISO 50001 adoption before the Phase 2 deadline, its crucial that you get started as soon as possible.

Related: How can ISO50001 pave the way to ESOS Phase 2 compliance? On-demand webinar – Register here 


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