If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it (and you can’t finance it!)

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One of the bitter complaints about energy management and energy efficiency has been the lack of standardization in energy benchmarking, management, measurement and verificiation.  Policymakers don’t like it because it is difficult to verify compliance, consumers can’t trust the information they receive and financiers don’t like it because they cannot forecast the risk associated with investment.  This lack of standardization has been cited over and over again.  According to a World Economic Forum analysis for accelerating energy efficiency:

Despite differing views of the market, all stakeholder groups acknowledge the gap between opportunity and implementation, recognizing that a standardized method of measurement, verification and enforcement would help create market transparency, a more stable environment and an upscaling of investments. This should be considered of high priority going forward.

A new tool for industry and regulators alike was issued last week.  The International Standards Organization launched ISO Standard 50001 for energy management.  Unlike LEED or Energy Stat, the ISO standard does not set energy targets or how to comply, but rather provides a standardized framework for planning, measuring, verifying and improving energy performance. 

Pilots of the ISO 50001standard demonstrated  cost and energy savings in large and small businesses:

 One of them was a plant owned by a major company, Dow Chemicals. The plant reduced its use of energy by 17.9 % over two years. At the same time, ISO 50001 principles are also successfully implemented by small businesses as shown by the experience of the other plant, CCP, of Houston, Texas, employing 36 people. In two years, it achieved energy savings of 14.9 %, worth USD 250 000 a year with zero capital investment.

Why does it matter?  According to the ISO, Up to the end of December 2009, at least 223,149 ISO 14001:2004 (environmental management standard) certificates had been issued in 159 countries and economies.  ISO 50001 is designed to work with the other ISO management system standards, including ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management).  In addition, in at least several studies, ISO 14001 has been statistically correlated with significant positive market reaction, increasing the value of the companies that implement it. 

In theory, new regulations could be based on energy performance measured and verified using the ISO 50001 standard.  Financial institutions could have greater security if energy savings, verification and management were based on  the ISO 50001 procedures.  If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it…and you can’t regulate it and you can’t finance it!

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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