How ISO 14001 implementation helps reduce energy consumption

ISO 14001:2015 is the world’s leading environmental standard and, for the many organizations who are certified, its impact on EMS (environmental management system) performance is significant. There are some basic benefits that ISO 14001:2015 certification can bring, such as major savings on utility bills such as electricity, water or natural gas. Some readers may remember that, even some 20 years ago, the desire to drive internal business energy efficiencies and save money was the main driver for many businesses to become certified to the standard. So how can today’s ISO 14001:2015 certified businesses ensure that they can realize the financial and economic benefits of reduced energy bills?

The ISO 14001 standard – how does it help?

Previously, in the article Driving your supply chain to ISO 14001 compliance, we could see how driving supply chain to compliance can also reduce your organization’s environmental impact. This was done by ensuring those involved in the production of your goods or services shared your good practices.

Section 6 of the ISO 14001:2015 standard deals with “planning,” and many companies nominate energy consumption as either an environmental aspect to be controlled and reduced, or even part of an environmental objective, depending on the size and context of the particular organization. The article How to set criteria for environmental aspects evaluation can help you decide how you prefer to handle this. Identifying this topic as an environmental aspect will be more realistic for most medium to large organizations who have more specific environmental concerns to measure as an outright objective. No matter how your organization decides to deal with it, the use of natural gas, electricity and water can be extremely expensive to a business, and obviously a drain on the Earth’s resources.

Reduce your consumption by splitting utilities

Most organizations consume energy in the form of natural gas, electricity and water. In many cases, especially in large organizations with larger usage, it may make sense to split these utilities apart to ensure they can be dealt with as efficiently as possible.

Let’s consider how this can be done.

Electricity consumption

This is a constant for most modern businesses and a significant cost. Working on a recent ISO 14001:2015 project with a small business, we discovered that over 40% of the business’s electricity bills were accrued outside of business hours. This can provide a business with real motivation and impetus to decrease those costs. The solution to mitigating the costs can be a combination of common sense and technological factors. Here are some tips:

How can ISO 14001 reduce energy consumption?

Use signs. Signs stating, “Please switch the light off when room is not in use,” is traditional, but effective. A communication to the team announcing the objective of such an initiative, and how everyone’s behavior can contribute, normally brings immediate improvements.

Designate a “champion.” In some cases, designating a responsible person, or “champion,” can give your employees a point of contact if they need more information or have questions on how to help save electricity.

Use ‘’Smart technology.’’ Technological solutions can also help with saving electricity. Ensure room sensors are accurate and used, consider remote temperature control applications, consider LED and sensor lighting in your office, even consider the possibility of PoE (Power over Ethernet) lighting systems, where low consumption electricity can be transmitted over ethernet cables to provide an intelligent and sensor-led lighting solution for your office. “Smart technology” looks sure to play a major part in reducing electricity consumption for businesses in the coming years.

Natural gas consumption

Whether natural gas or heating fuel, most workplaces need some sort of heating. There are several simple questions you can ask to ensure your system is efficient and costs are kept to a minimum:

  • Is your system regularly serviced?
  • Are temperature controls and sensors working and used?
  • Is the heating system set to ensure that there is no out of hours use, except in times of extremely low temperatures which would bring risk of a frozen system?
  • Is heating used in meeting rooms and corridors which are not used?

Studying this in your business with periodic reviews and actions can help you to understand this impact/cost and reduce it accordingly. Once more, communicating this objective to your employees will bring immediate benefit in terms of raising their awareness and changing behavior, and often in terms of inviting positive feedback and suggestions.

Water consumption

Water is one of the earth’s most critical components for nurturing life and growth on this planet, and preserving this resource is of paramount importance. Every business and household can play a part in this, and even the simplest of measures can be effective. For many employees, hearing about the importance of an initiative from the organizational leaders gives it greater importance, and results tend to follow. Again, a mixture of methods can help reduce your company’s water consumption:

  • Ensure your system is serviced and has no leaks
  • Ensure signs are present to communicate the importance of not wasting water
  • Consider controlled faucets to limit the amount of water released
  • Review and communicate your water usage regularly to the team to stimulate suggestions and retain focus.

Like many elements related to the ISO 14001:2015 standard, using the “Plan, Do, Check, Act” cycle can bring positive results with the reduction of all utilities.

How ISO 14001 implementation helps reduce energy consumption

In the article How to perform communication related to the EMS read how communication should be tackled, and how encouraging your top management team to communicate the establishment of these issues can be critical to their eventual success.

Ensuring positive results

The one thing all these elements have in common is that they have several benefits for any organization: resources are preserved, costs are reduced, and awareness is increased due to a sharing of knowledge and increase in teamwork. Along with the improvements that internal audits and reviews can bring, it quickly becomes clear that ISO 14001:2015 in the context of energy consumption can bring measurable benefits and savings to all modern businesses.

Why not use this free Gap Analysis Tool to measure how close your business is to ISO 14001:2015 certification?

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.