An Energy Management System (EnMS) establishes an ongoing process of identifying, planning and implementing improvements in the way an organisation uses energy. A high-quality and comprehensive EnMS builds business value by acknowledging the importance of energy as an essential business input, and by establishing enduring processes to monitor and achieve best practice in the use of energy resources.
An effective EnMS provides a framework of practical processes and procedures to deliver on an organisation’s energy objectives.
The commitment of senior management is the foundation of any effective energy management system. Energy management should not be merely ‘tacked on’ to existing operations.
An organisation must have clear energy performance objectives and allocate sufficient resources to implement and manage the system if it is to succeed. Communicating the commitment of senior management and the resources that have been assigned establishes energy management is an important priority at all levels of the organisation.
Developing and adhering to an energy policy is important. It demonstrates that an organisation, including senior management, is committed to improving energy performance.
The policy can clarify what the energy management objectives of the organisation are and the timeframes within which they are expected to be achieved. It is often expressed as a concise statement that can be quickly and easily communicated throughout all levels of the organisation.
Typically, an energy policy would state how energy management aligns with the organisation’s broader improvement goals and sets out the target metric for improvement. For example, the energy policy may include a reduction in the amount of energy used per unit production, and a specified timeframe within which the goal should be achieved.
The energy policy may also address linkages between carbon emissions and energy use, and set out greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The energy policy should also explain how energy relates to broader sustainability objectives and policies of the organisation.
As with any business policy, the energy policy should be periodically updated and performance against the policy should be assessed on an ongoing basis.
Each organisation is unique, and it is important that an EnMS is aligned with existing business priorities and systems. It should be a key component of an organisation’s continuous improvement efforts.
An EnMS can be implemented at different levels of an organisation, depending on the size and structure of the business. It can be developed for an entire organisation, a business unit, a facility, or even an individual process or functional group. For example, organisations that have a single management structure will typically implement a single top-level EnMS. Corporations with multiple business units that are each managed independently and have unique business systems often find it easier for each business unit to implement their own EnMS. Any precedent set by other management systems, such as quality or environmental systems, can be used as a guide to determine where the EnMS should sit within the organisation.
An EnMS can include processes and procedures to ensure compliance with legal and contractual energy requirements, or can be adapted to integrate with existing compliance systems. Energy performance can also be incorporated into an organisation's design and procurement practices for new products, facilities, equipment and processes. This could include how energy sources are identified and procured and how the energy performance of a supplier’s products should be considered during the procurement process.
Another scoping consideration is the relevant time frame of the EnMS. Specifying time-bound objectives and activities of the EnMS over the short, medium or long term can affect many facets of the EnMS, such as resource allocation and decision-making criteria.
An energy manager is typically responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the EnMS and acting as a conduit between senior management and the rest of the organisation.
Best practice in energy management requires the involvement of staff from many different areas and functional roles across the organisation. This may include personnel with specific technical and operational knowledge, staff from financial, environmental and other departments, as well as senior managers with the authority to make significant business decisions. Forming an energy team facilitates participation and commitment, provides the energy manager with a resource base to draw upon, and ensures that all aspects of the business are taken into account during the formulation and evaluation of energy efficiency projects.
Depending on the size and circumstances of the organisation, other leadership roles or project teams may be required to execute different aspects of the EnMS. For example, energy assessments could be undertaken by corporate and site based teams. Negotiating energy contracts may require close collaboration between the procurement team, the energy manager and site based operational staff.
Implementing an EnMS can also reveal where additional training, skills development or resources, may be required to deliver on the objectives set out by senior management.
The EnMS can be used to build energy efficiency into the culture of the organisation and to empower employees to develop and implement new initiatives that improve energy performance.
Groups and individuals can significantly influence energy use through behavioural patterns and decision making processes. Importantly, raising awareness across the organisation and opening communication channels on energy management can encourage individuals to contribute new ideas that could further improve energy performance.
The New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority ‘s Staff Awareness and Motivation Guide provides guidance on the appointment of an energy manager and ways to enrol and motivate staff from across the organisation including researching current attitudes and behaviours.
An energy management system will not improve energy performance on its own. Undertaking an energy-efficiency assessment is the key activity in gaining a deeper understanding of how energy is used in the organisation, and where opportunities exist to improve energy performance.
An EnMS provides a structure for how the outcomes of the assessment can be evaluated by key decision makers including which energy-efficiency projects should be pursued and how they should be implemented. This includes assigning responsibilities, allocating resources and outlining how cost effective opportunities can be implemented to achieve identified savings.
Based on lessons from the assessment process, companies can set more specific energy performance goals and identify and evaluate projects on an ongoing basis.
As part of the EnMS, energy efficiency assessments should be undertaken on a regular basis, and should allocate resources to the areas where the greatest energy performance improvements can be achieved.
The Conducting an energy-efficiency assessment page of this site provides further details and resources on how to plan and execute an energy-efficiency assessment.
Frequent and high-quality communication practices are a key factor in the successful operation of an EnMS. Communication should permeate through all aspects of the EnMS and across all levels of the organisation.
Companies should be regularly tracking their energy performance against the company's energy management objectives and evaluating how the outcomes of energy-efficiency assessments and implemented energy-efficiency projects are helping them to achieve those goals. Continuous and consistent reporting provides transparency and accountability, and helps to maintain the support of senior management and staff.
The EnMS should specify the communication channels that will be used to disseminate findings and outcomes. This includes establishing formal reporting procedures, adding energy as a standing agenda item at regular management meetings and establishing reporting templates which easily communicate key metrics to management and staff.
The use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a particularly useful tool for evaluating energy performance for a business, site, or specific process and communicating when potential problems are occurring which need to be addressed. Development of effective KPIs can also yield great insights into the key variables that effect energy efficiency.
Like any business management system, perseverance and consistency are necessary to successfully operate an EnMS. This includes consistent implementation of action plans, regular monitoring of energy use and efficiency, evaluation of the performance of projects that have been investigated or implemented, and planning for future energy assessments.
A continuous feedback process should be used, promoting the flow of information on policies, plans, ideas, decisions and performance. To retain a high-level of staff engagement, all communications received from staff should be documented, acted upon, and followed up.
A systematic method should be established to collect and store all information pertaining to the EnMS incorporating the document control procedures of the organisation. This ensures accountability and transparency and allows for future evaluation and review.
The EnMS itself should be reviewed on a regular basis to improve the value it delivers to the business and its conformance with any applicable standards such as ISO 50001.
Energy Smart Toolbox NSW Government
Energy Management in Practice Manual Sustainability Victoria
ISO 50001:2011 Energy Management Systems International Organization for Standardization
EnergyStar Guidelines for Energy Management Overview U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Teaming Up To Save Energy U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Staff Awareness and Motivation Guide The New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority