Article: Significant Energy Use explained

Sunday 21st April 2019
Significant Energy Use explained

Significant Energy Use explained

All organisations use energy. It can be used for space heating, water heating, process and office equipment and transport but the amount used for each will depend on the organisation and its purpose. A manufacturing organisation will use more energy for process equipment than a service-based organisation, for whom energy will probably more likely be used for office equipment or transport. Energy can be sourced in a variety of formats; gas, electricity or fuel oils, or electricity produced from renewable sources.

When planning an Energy Management system against the requirements of ISO 50001, the approach to deciding the actions and controls is the same as for other ISO management systems. That is to say, the ‘Risk Based’ approach, where the controls should focus on the largest or most significant issue. In other words, the organisation should determine the areas of significant energy use and focus on them.

In 50001, significant energy use (SEU) defines areas of substantial energy consumption, and also areas that offer considerable potential for energy performance improvement. Therefore, the initial energy review that is carried out should focus on identifying all the areas that use energy and quantifying how much energy is used.

A good energy review and audit should be applicable to the organisation, and where possible, break down energy use as far as possible. If this can be done using a consistent unit of energy (e.g. kWh or fuel per mile), the better placed the organisation will be to identify the areas of ‘Significant Energy Use’, and create objectives that will bring good improvements. Depending on the organisation, there are likely to be differing areas of Significant Energy use, such as:  

Production-based organisations: SEU determined by breakdown of process energy use such as compressed air, energy use by machine, or welding use

  • Service-based organisations: SEU determined by breakdown energy use by office equipment; printers, computers, servers
  • Transport organisations: SEU determined by breakdown of energy use by fuel type (e.g. petrol or diesel) or by vehicle type (lorry, van or car)

Some organisations work on a project-based basis, where SEU will be dependent on the types of project that they have in place at any one time. Therefore, a degree of flexibility should be considered to ensure that the organisation’s performance improves over time, for example, considering energy use per person employed or energy use by financial turnover. Auditors for ISO 50001 will be looking for evidence that energy performance is improving, so remember that the Energy review will help set the context, and SEU will focus the attention on critical areas for the organisation.


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