Obligations to reduce GHG emissions and the rise in energy costs both generated more demand for energy management solutions in accordance with ISO 50001.

That said, many organizations conduct an Energy Audit as a first step to understand current energy consumption, potentially identify areas of waste, and opportunities to save energy and reduce operational costs.


While this might be a good starting point, energy auditing does not guarantee energy efficiency. In addition, if you’re worried about regulation, your organization is exempted from the audit obligation if you are ISO 50001 certified. So, which one should you get? 

You want to take action. Yet, you’re unclear about whether you should be conducting an Energy Audit or getting an ISO 50001 Certification. If this sounds like you, this blog post should help you make up your mind.

What is ISO 50001 Certification?

ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard provides requirements for setting up, managing, and continually improving energy consumption and efficiency. Organizations of all sizes use it to manage and reduce energy use and costs worldwide.

From large manufacturers to smaller retailers, the ISO 50001 energy policy assists facilities in making energy management improvements. In brief, the purpose is to reduce energy consumption, cut costs, and support greenhouse gas emission reduction projects.

Read more details on ISO 50001 here


Benefits of ISO 50001 Implementation

ISO 50001-certified companies work towards both ecological and economic advantages. In short, these benefits include: 

  • Increase energy efficiency and optimize resource utilization throughout facilities by continually measuring and monitoring energy use.
  • Identify and manage energy supply risks, through the optimization of production processes.
  • Improve the organization’s reputation and help gain a strategic advantage in competitive markets.

ISO 50001 vs. ISO 14001

Energy prices keep rising and they now meet the fast-growing commitment to net zero. As a result, ISO 14001 Environmental Management System and ISO 50001 Energy Management System are both rising in popularity. However, it is important to understand the difference between them.

So, if you want the short answer: ISO 14001 helps organizations identify and manage all environmental impacts. Meanwhile, ISO 50001 focuses solely on energy management and improving energy performance.

As just stated, ISO 14001 has a much broader scope. In essence, it’s about applying techniques to measure and improve the organization’s environmental performance and reduce its environmental impact. That being said, it makes few references to energy. It’s not designed to reduce consumption or manage costs. Put simply, its purpose is to reduce pollution through waste reduction and implementing cleaner techniques of operating.

The ISO 50001 policy, however, helps an organization establish goals, targets, and action plans related to energy use. The intention is to improve energy performance, reduce energy costs, and therefore cut down on carbon emissions and other related environmental impacts.

Of course, it goes without saying that a system that helps you reduce energy consumption can also contribute to lower CO2 emissions

On the other hand, the two standards are built around 10 common clauses. These common points are Performance evaluation, Improvements, Operation, Support, Leadership, Scope, Planning, Context of the organization, Terms & definitions, and Normative references.

Should you get ISO 50001 Certification or an Energy Audit?


First, what’s an Energy Audit? In short, an energy audit is an assessment of the energy needs and consumption in a residential, industrial, or commercial building. Many organizations use energy auditing as the first step toward understanding current energy usage and identifying saving opportunities. 

However, Energy Auditing and the poor procurement process of its implementation are not the optimal way to achieve guaranteed energy efficiency results. It’s only the beginning of the journey toward economic and environmental sustainability. 

The biggest drawback of an audit is that it doesn’t save energy. Carbon emissions stay the same. And, the energy bills won’t come down. As a matter of fact, it will tell you how you can save energy. However, action on the report’s recommendations needs to be taken to save on your energy bill.

That is where the prescriptive procurement process comes into play.

It’s when the client specifies which energy-saving solutions identified in the Energy Audit Report are to be implemented and how they should be implemented. 

It’s self-evident that this decision ignores many issues. This is why you should follow your energy audit with an EnMS implementation in order to take well-informed, data-driven action. 

And by now, you probably already know that energy audit results can’t be predicted in advance. Put simply, your energy savings (%) and return on investment (ROI) are unknown.

“But Energy Audits are mandatory for large organizations, right?”

Unlike the implementation of the ISO 50001 standard, which is a voluntary process, the implementation of the “mandatory energy audit” has been an obligation for large companies since 2015. This audit is renewed every 4 years and is done internally or externally.

The concerned companies are the ones that have:

  • Either more than 250 employees.
  • Either an annual revenue exceeding 50M€ AND a total balance sheet exceeding 43M€.

Since the 5th of December 2015, these companies must prove at any time that they have carried out an energy audit covering at least 80% of their energy bills.

However, they can be exempted from this obligation if they can prove that they hold a valid ISO 50001 certification (an ISO 50001 certificate is valid for 3 years).

The Wattnow team will provide extensive implementation support and all the tools you need to accelerate your organization’s journey toward being ISO 50001 certified. In addition, we guide you towards maintaining your certification.

For instance, after implementing the Wattnow solution, the local manufacturing giant CCE or “Chimicouleurs Emballages Métalliqueshas been able to meet and maintain the ISO 50001 energy efficiency requirements. They achieved this by actively working on the development of a continuous improvement approach. This allowed them to optimize their energy use and reduce their energy costs. 

Since 1998, CCE specializes in metal packaging and now dominates the market. The company serves containers for both alimentary and industrial use.

Have any questions? Get in touch now and one of our experts will gladly help you.