2.3 Developing an energy management system

Larger companies should implement a formal energy management system. This may be structured along the same lines as an ISO 9001 quality management system – indeed, since July 2009 there has been a British Standard (BS EN 16001) for energy management.

This works on the principle of: Plan–Do–Check–Act.

Planning includes setting a board energy policy and doing energy audits, if necessary. The next stage focuses on implementing both physical measures and encouraging behaviour change. It is then necessary to monitor the outcomes and, if necessary, to take corrective action. Finally, there is the feedback loop step – reporting to senior management, adjusting policies and plans, and setting new targets. This approach can be used even in the smallest organisations, although formal systems tend to be officially adopted only in larger ones.

You should consider drawing up a formal implementation plan. In smaller organisations this could simply be a list of bullet points, with associated costs (if any), the name of the person responsible and the target date for completion. Don’t assume that you will need a large budget. In the next two sections we look at mainly low cost or free measures. Moreover, higher cost measures will tend not to be done as ‘energy efficiency’ or ‘carbon management’ actions, but as part of larger projects, such as building refurbishment or updating production processes. In many ways it is better not to have an energy efficiency budget in a silo by itself, but to insist that the energy and carbon impact is calculated on all major purchases – whether of capital equipment or larger revenue items such as the annual travel budget.

Finally, it is necessary to evaluate the actions and report back to senior managers or the board. Try to get this built into regular reporting structures; again, a silo mentality can lead to carbon reductions being marginalised and seen as being a special interest rather than a fundamental component of the organisation’s business. (Working with the accountants to integrate this with financial reporting can again prove helpful here.)

The following are two examples of businesses reducing their energy use:

  • Five steps to effective energy management from the South West Development Agency.

  • Enworks explains how it has improved the energy efficiency of companies in North West England for which it won an Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy in 2007.

Activity 3

Good energy management is perhaps like a good wine – you know when you have it, but it is quite difficult to define in the abstract. Some people find the formal management structure (and language) associated with standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 (the Environmental Management Standards) and EN 16001 unhelpful. They prefer a more person-centred informal approach, offering flexibility and rapid responses. Which approach would work better for your organisation?

2.2 Appointing an energy manager

3 Taking action – some easier measures