ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) is a mandatory energy assessment scheme for qualifying non-governmental bodies in the UK. The requirement for ESOS compliance applies both to businesses and not-for-profit organisations, provided they are large enough to meet the qualifying criteria. An organisation qualifies for ESOS if they have either 250 or more employees, or a turnover of over 50 million euro (£38.9 million). A balance sheet total of more than 43 million euro (£33.5 million) is also needed for the turnover qualification to take effect.
ESOS covers total energy use, including buildings, production and transport. Companies are required to give figures of their energy use for a 12 month period. They are also required to provide clear information on potential savings, which must be properly quantified.
Qualifying organisations need to have submitted an ESOS notice of compliance to the Environment Agency by 5th December 2015. If your organisation has missed this deadline, it needs to fill in the online form on the Environment Agency website to explain why. The Environment Agency website states that they will not normally bring enforcement action or penalties if the notice of compliance is received by 29th January 2016. Many qualifying organisations seem to have missed the original 5th December deadline.
The Environment agency are keen that all qualifying organisations who have not already done so get started with ESOS, providing the Agency with a realistic deadline for compliance if they can’t meet the 29th January deadline.
They state on their blog that it is untrue that most qualifying organisations are unaware of the ESOS process; they believe about 9 out of 10 such organisations are fully aware of their responsibilities. Those that ignore the process may be liable to substantial fines.
Qualifying organisations typically need to appoint an accredited lead assessor to carry out energy audits as part of their ESOS assessment. However, this can prove costly, since there is a shortage of such assessors.
ISO 50001 route to ESOS compliance
Organisations with UKAS accredited ISO 50001 certification, do not need to carry out an ESOS assessment. ISO 50001 is the international standard for energy management systems (EnMS), which ensure energy use is monitored and managed through a process of continuous improvement. In this respect ISO 50001 is similar to ISO 14001; the latter involves the creation of an environmental management system, which enables the enhancement of environmental performance by means of continuous improvement.
Companies that have already implemented ISO 14001 or ISO 9001 (quality management system) should be able to implement ISO 50001 in a similar with minimal input required from an ISO 50001. However, Adeptus does offer management systems consultancy services with regard to ISO 50001 and other standards.
As with other ISO standards, the emphasis in ISO 50001 is on continuous improvement, rather than externally imposed targets. It is concerned with every factor which affects energy use, provided it can be monitored and changed by the organisation. Once the EnMS is set up, ISO 50001 is implemented on site in line with the ‘plan-do-check-act’ cycle.
The initial planning stage involves carrying out an energy review and establishing a baseline for current consumption. Energy performance indicators (EnPIs) are set, along with achievable objectives and action plans. The second ‘do’ stage involves implementation of the actions plans. The third ‘check’ stage comprises the checking of the results obtained against the agreed objectives. Lastly, the ‘act’ stage involves taking further action to improve both energy performance and the EnMS. As in other ISO standards, documentation control is an important part of the management system, so management and auditors can clearly follow the implementation of the standard.
The EnMS can be put in place on a ‘do-it-yourself’ basis, although companies may use the services of ISO 5001 consultants, even if only as external auditors (second party auditors). Professional consultants should be able to ensure that the standard is implemented in compliance with the standard. Accredited ISO 50001 certification can be achieved via a UKAS accredited certification body. This is accepted by the Environment Agency as an alternative to following the ESOS compliance procedure.
ESOS vs ISO 50001: which is best?
Companies of a qualifying size must go down either the ESOS or ISO 50001 route. Companies below this threshold may also benefit from ISO 50001, particularly where energy use has traditionally been of low priority. A formal scheme can ensure that sufficient attention is given to energy usage, rather than it just being taken as an unavoidable cost. It is not unknown for companies to have the latest laptops and software on office desks, new robots on their factory floor, but an ancient boiler system dating from the 1950s, 60s or 70s, which has merely been patched up over the years. Such outdated plant usually burn money as much as fuel.
Cost of ISO 50001 Certification
Although ESOS assessment has typically proven more costly than ISO 50001 certification, the ESOS scheme requirements end there! No further action is required, and so if none is taken (as is often the case) no benefit is received by the company in question.
In contrast, ISO 50001 compliance requires proactive measures be taken to address and reduce energy usage. Clearly, significant energy savings translate directly to enhanced profits for the certified organisation.
Furthermore, companies with suitable internal resources stand to benefit greatly from taking the ISO 50001 route to ESOS compliance. Where there is the opportunity to integrate ISO 50001 with other ISO standards, such as ISO 14001 and ISO 9001, implementation costs may be lower still. Those with knowledge and experience in management systems implementation may be able to undertake the project ‘in house’ on a DIY basis without the need for external help. Similarity, suitable training may allow a less experienced member of staff to implement an energy management system.
Generally, companies with existing ISO certification will have trained internal auditors, and so relatively limited input from external consultants may be required to achieve ISO 50001 certification. Experience gained by staff in applying one standard is readily transferred to the next, since they all share the ethos of continuous improvement, and use similar methodology to achieve such improvement in practice.
In today’s crowded market place, many companies expect their partners to be demonstrate good environmental stewardship, just as they do corporate social responsibility. UKAS accredited ISO 50001 compliance demonstrates globally recognized standards of good practice in energy management. Additionally to enhancing
As ESOS is relatively new, companies from outside the EU may not be clear as to what it entails; they may be more likely to consider favourably the internationally recognised ISO 50001.
Exclusions – ISO 50001
In the past, some firms have chosen to exclude transport from ISO 50001, and this may make up more than 10% of an organisation’s energy use. Where this case, transport will have to be brought under the scope of ISO 50001 energy management system. Alternatively the company’s transport operations would be subject to mandatory ESOS assessment.
Regardless of which route is chosen, substantial energy savings will only accrue if senior management fully ‘buy in’ to the energy saving process. In many cases, a significant amount of upfront capital expenditure is required to realise long-term cost savings on energy. You can only go so far by merely reminding staff to switch the lights off. If sufficient financial resources are not made available, major progress can be hard to achieve.
ISO 50001 sets out the framework for identifying and managing such projects, to ensure opportunities for energy savings are seized.
Scully, J. (Environment Agency Blog), ‘ESOS: don’t believe the myths.’ https://environmentagency.blog.gov.uk/2015/11/20/esos-dont-believe-the-myths/
ISO Website, ‘Win the energy challenge with ISO 50001.’ http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_50001_energy.pdf