"Plan, Do, Check, Act" to Achieve Energy Reduction Goals: an Introduction to the ISO 50001 Standard

The National Park Service (NPS) values best practices in environmental management and strives to maximize energy efficiency and minimize energy use throughout its operations. An internationally-recognized organization that publishes best practice standards is the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO. ISO is an independent, non-governmental organization dedicated to developing voluntary standards to help “make things work.” ISO standards provide guidelines for optimization, improving efficiency, and reducing environmental impact. The standards are applicable to fields ranging from risk management to food safety to language translation. The NPS approach to Environmental Management Systems (EMS) is based on ISO 14001, and some NPS concessioners, including Forever Resorts, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Delaware North Corporation, Ortega Family Enterprises, and Aramark, implement environmental programs that conform to ISO 14001 standards.

The ISO standards follow a continuous improvement framework with four phases: Plan, Do, Check, and Act. This continual improvement approach is widely associated with environmental management, operational management, and production management. Published in 2011, the ISO 50001 standard for energy management is one of ISO’s newer standards. This standard establishes energy management principles intended to help organizations save money, conserve resources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through efficient energy usage.

Following the ISO 50001 standard enables organizations to:

  • Develop a policy for more efficient use of energy
  • Fix targets and objectives to meet the policy
  • Use data to better understand and make decisions about energy use
  • Measure results
  • Review how well the policy works
  • Continually improve energy management" 1

The ISO 50001 approach to energy management can be implemented at operations of all sizes and complexities, including concessions operations. Whether applied to a small gift shop or full service hospitality operation, managing energy using a continual improvement approach can help reduce usage and lower costs. Since ISO 50001 conforms to the Plan, Do, Check, Act model, an energy management plan based on ISO 50001 can easily be integrated into a concessioner’s existing EMS or Environmental Management Plan (EMP).

By developing an energy reduction policy as a first step, the concessions management team demonstrates their commitment to, and sets the tone for, energy management success. Once current usage is understood, both in terms of how much energy is used and in what ways energy is used, reduction targets can be set. Establishing targets and objectives that are realistic, actionable, and clearly defined provides concessions staff with a path forward. Management should ensure that staff implement their responsibilities related to energy goals, and that the support and infrastructure needed to achieve the goals are in place. Energy reduction can be realized through equipment improvement, operational improvement, or improvement in user awareness and behavioral change. The key is to consistently assess progress, course correct as needed, and formalize continual improvement in energy management. Those familiar with EMS will recognize these tenets.

Whether the ultimate goal is ISO 50001 certification or to simply identify and address energy reduction opportunities, the Plan, Do, Check, Act approach outlined by ISO is one that can be beneficial for concessions operations. Formalizing a process that can reduce costs and improve environmental performance just makes sense.

For more information, visit www.iso.org or view their ISO 50001 overview at www.iso.org/iso/iso_50001_energy.pdf

1 Win the Energy Challenge with ISO 50001. ISO 2011-06/3 000: www.iso.org/iso/iso_50001_energy.pdf