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Understanding the Other E in your ESG Program

Most corporations that are currently using ESG to define their organizational sustainability programs use GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions as the measure of energy and place this activity into the environmental category of ESG. However, it is the energy use reduction that is important in the ESG program so we can use the same ”E” that is in the ESG program to cover both the environment management and the energy use reduction. This is what the International Organization for Standardization seeks to accomplish using ISO 50001:2018.It is ironic that this management system standard started using much of the ISO 14001 language with the provisions for lowering the amount of energy being used. The recent document is consistent with energy use.

The first document you should refer to is ISO 50001:2018 – Energy Management System – Requirements with Guidance for Use. Please note the general steps in this management system on the left side of the screen. This document provides requirements for a systematic, data-driven, and facts-based process, focused on continually improving energy performance. Energy performance is a key element integrated within the concepts introduced in this document to ensure effective and measurable results over time. Energy performance is a concept which is related to energy efficiency, energy use and energy consumption.

Energy performance indicators and energy baselines are two interrelated elements addressed in this document to enable organizations to demonstrate energy performance improvement.

ISO 50004:2020 Energy Management System provides guidance for the implementation, maintenance, and improvement of an ISO 50001:2018 management system, all of the steps in the process are listed in the left-side in the browsing platform. This is like the ISO 14004:2016 Environmental Management Systems – General Guidelines on Implementation.

There are also copies of free guidance documents, such as ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems. You can also search the ISO website for additional free information on energy management.

The biggest takeaway from this information is that you will want to focus on the energy management information when seeking to lower the GHG emissions. This is one of the key advantages of the ISO information – it shows you how to do this and how to make it fit both in the environmental “E” and in the full spectrum of ESG programming.

There are additional publications that suggest caution regarding the use of the information in the two documents above. The leader of the organization along with the people that have work that can impact the environment should be familiar with these general publications as well as the other information also provided above. Please remember that your company does not need to be certified to ISO 14001:2015.ISO now allows the organization to use “self-determination” and “self-declaration” to demonstrate conformance to the items in the ISO 14001:2015 standard. If the operating facilities and suppliers are following the same information, you will be able to provide comfort to your customers, regulators, and investors that you are paying attention to the “environmental “E” in your ESG program. A separate blog is provided on the second “E” in the program, i.e. Energy.

Dr. Bob Pojasek

Sustainability Legend | ESG Reporting & Disclosures | Uncertainty Risk | Pollution Prevention Expert | Process Improvement | Organizational Sustainability Reporting | Sustainable Procurement Professor

Chairman, Education and Research Executive Board (EREB)

VCARE Academy Inc.

Managing Director

Center for Corporate Performance & Sustainability


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