CEO’s got pictures taken in front of their newly constructed LEED Platinum corporate offices. Retailers reported higher foot traffic in newly constructed LEED certified stores. The USGBC even extended their brand by introducing LEED-EB so companies could certifiy their current real estate portfolio to the green standard. The LEED brand reinforced the “this company is green” image and, in case anyone forgot, a plaque at the building’s entrance reminded people everytime they entered.
Post the 2008 market collapse we saw customers quickly drop their LEED efforts, focusing instead on Energy Star building certification. The Energy Star brand is an even more visible green brand, they were already using portfolio manager as part of the LEED process, and the certification process would likely yield real energy savings, a financial payback from the certification process. It was a natural shift – plus they still got a plaque.
With ISO’s recent introduction of its 50001 Energy Management standard we’ll can speculate that this brand may now also be gaining a greener image.
Today the ISO brand is most uniquely associated with quality managment. It’s programs are embedded as part of large global manufacturers’ culture, with many corporations proudly displaying their ISO 9001 certificate in the lobby of their headquarters. So its not a surprise that the ISO 50001 pilot program included companies like Alcoa, Bridgestone, Schneider Electric and Volvo. And it doesn’t hurt that the DOE is throwing its support for the standard as well.
As we’ve seen with sustainability reporting like the Carbon Disclosure Project, the next lever for ISO 50001 may come as it gets included within RFPs, supplier certifications and international trade contracts.
And when that happens make room for another plaque at the corporate headquarters.
In last week’s Traditional Energy Audits Are So Yesterday we noted that the recently introduced ISO 50001 energy management standard may help companies establish their own energy management process. Where audits are a snapshot look at usage, ISO 50001 gives them a “Plan-Do-Check-Act” framework for energy usage in their business.
But as with any new standard, a lot of folks are trying to quickly figure out what it is, what it requires and what it means to them.
As a reference, it’s interesting to consider what happened in 2003, when the Carbon Disclosure Project issued its first request for climate reporting. Social impact reporting was a newer concept then, but some early adopters latched on to CDP’s offer, with over 200+ organizations reporting that first year. Within three years 900+ companies were responding, by 2008 2,200+, and today there are over 3,000 in over 60 countries. Along the way CDP itself has been providing guidance and interpretations for these organizations, as have a broad range of environmental consulting companies.
With the economy still challenged and many companies now recognizing that focusing on energy use is sustainability that pays a financial return, maybe we’ll see similar hockey stick adoption for ISO 50001?
Perhaps as a strong leading indicator, several companies have already announced their adoption, with Schneider Electric noting that their world headquarters is the first building to earn ISO 50001 certification.
Also, if you’re trying to figure out the what it is, what it requires and what it means question, here is a useful white paper and even the DOE has a getting started website up now.