Energy Efficiency: It All Starts With An Energy Audit!

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Today's world is facing a major energy crisis, due to the increase in fossil fuel prices dedicated to energy production. This crisis has made many governments and companies rethink their energy consumption and implement new protocols to reduce energy costs and consumption. This can be done thanks to the Energy Audit and/or an Energy Management System; they go hand in hand with the climate change goals and reducing the carbon footprint.


Since 1971 and until 2019, Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from energy production in the world have increased by nearly 50%. Since 1990, many governments worldwide have taken into account the importance of preserving our environment, by monitoring and reducing carbon emissions. For example, in 2019 the United States' carbon emissions decreased by only 1.22% from energy production and electricity consumption, which are increased since 1990. While in the United Kingdom, in 2019, carbon emissions decreased by 37.7 %, energy production decreased by 41% and electricity consumption increased by 3.5%, since 1990. These are important indicators of industries and companies putting in place an efficient Energy Management System (EMS) to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. Moreover, the ISO standard 50001, even if it remains completely voluntary, has helped many companies to reduce their energy consumption and keep their performance at high levels.


To make sure the efficiency of energy consumption reduction, it is necessary to conduct regular energy audits.


What is an energy audit all about? Who is concerned? And who can perform the energy audit?


What is an Energy Audit and why it is essential?


The energy audit is a procedure comprised of inspection, monitoring and analysis of energy flows, in other words, a diagnosis of energy consumption, to determine energy savings opportunities without affecting the performance of business operations. At the end of the audit, a report is issued providing a complete electricity consumption and energy efficiency assessment. It can be done for a home as well as commercial and industrial facilities.

Moreover, an energy audit can help reduce a company's carbon footprint by highlighting the areas concerned about wasting unnecessary energy. In addition, an energy audit can help reduce energy costs and save money.


There are two types of energy audits:


  • A preliminary energy audit is also known as a walk-through audit. This audit is based on a simple collection of data from a basic diagnosis of the equipment, maintenance and production processes. The certified energy auditor will rely on limited diagnostic material to conduct the audit.
  • Detailed or general energy audit. During this audit, the auditor carries out a thorough and detailed analysis and diagnosis of all energy consumption sources. The auditor will rely on more sophisticated equipment to gather all the necessary information and data from the facility(ies) (electrical network, lighting, etc.). At the end of the audit, the auditor will issue a detailed technical report, with all his comments and suggestions.


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Who is concerned with the energy audit?


The Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU is a European directive that mentions the obligation of an energy audit for companies that have:


  • 250 employees,
  • or a turnover of over 50 million euros,
  • or an annual balance sheet of over 43 million euros.


In the United Kingdom, the requirements are the same as the EU Energy Efficiency Directive, in addition to some other requirements according to the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) which is a mandatory energy assessment scheme introduced by the UK’s government:


  • Overseas companies with over 250 employees in the UK,
  • or the company is part of a larger organisation, which corresponds to the other mentioned criteria (in both the UK’s and EU’s requirements).


The energy audit must be carried out every 4 years, where new energy-saving points should be mentioned and applied, or companies should have an Energy Management System. Regarding energy audits, companies can rely on the European standard EN 16247. It provides requirements and the methodology for carrying out an audit. And concerning the Energy Management System, companies can voluntarily choose to rely on the ISO 50001:2018 standard to implement this energy-saving system.


We should mention that when a company is certified ISO 50001:2018, this certification replaces the energy audit. Therefore maintaining the ISO 50001:2018 standard will exempt you from an energy audit.


Who can carry out an energy audit and what is their mission?


An energy audit is carried out by a qualified and certified professional with minimum energy-related experience. Companies can rely on external auditors to conduct the audit. However, the company's internal certified energy auditor personnel can also conduct the energy audit. In the case of an internal audit, the auditor should not belong to the facility or the building that is being audited.

To be a certified energy auditor, one should carry out training provided by a third party with multiple prerequisites. And at the end of the training, if they succeed they will become certified.


An energy auditor, once certified, will have multiple tasks to cover during an audit. An auditor should carry out the audit depending on the scope determined and approved by the management committee.


The main mission of an auditor is to:


  • Gather all the energy data (billing information, data inventory and measurements, etc.);
  • Checklists preparation;
  • Analyse the energy data of an organisation;
  • Assess the energy consumption;
  • Identify areas of significant energy use;
  • Benchmark and comparative analysis with other similar organisations;
  • Identify improvement points, areas and possible strategies to implement;
  • Cost-benefit analysis of all the established measures and suggestions in the plan;
  • Write the energy audit report with all the recommendations.


How to prepare for the energy audit?


Preparing for an energy audit is more or less the same way for another typical audit. Everything starts by defining the audit objective, type (preliminary or detailed), the facility(ies), the areas to be assessed, staff involvement and building the audit team. Afterwards, the audit plan is elaborated, which will include the time, date and duration of the audit, along with the scope, audit process, the key elements to assess, and defining the role of each auditor in the audit team.


Once the audit plan is in place, the data collection according to the audit team’s checklist begins. An auditor checklist may contain: the date, time, and location of the facility; activity and number of employees; data and information about energy consumption (equipment, lighting, etc.); power supply; electrical network; inventory of equipment, tools, and all the processes involved in production; and other information that might be relevant to the auditor and the scope of the energy audit.


The organisation should also prepare all the necessary documents to be ready for the audit. Having a digital tool that contains an Electronic Document Management system can greatly help with these preparations. The data (previous audit reports, bills, maintenance of equipment, statistical analysis of energy consumption, etc.) are thus centralised on a single platform, easily accessible and directly provided to the audit team. Therefore, based on the audit team checklist(s) all the necessary information can be prepared to ensure a smooth and productive audit.


In some cases, an initial preliminary audit is performed providing an early and general analysis of the energy status in the company before the performance of the detailed audit. This will allow a better understanding and preparation of the staff involved in the energy audit. A preliminary audit can also be part of the collection of some missing data and information necessary for the detailed energy audit.


After the energy audit (both preliminary and detailed), an audit report and the recommendation will be edited and sent to all parties involved. Afterwards, all the recommendations, suggestions and improvement points are to be implemented thanks to the preparation of a new action plan and implementation of the corrective actions afterwards.


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What are the advantages of an energy audit for companies?


Energy audits provide multiple environmental, economic and technical advantages for companies. They help reduce energy costs, which will also decrease production costs, hence the competitiveness of the company will be improved.


By reducing energy consumption, the company contribute greatly to the environmental commitment by indirectly preserving the natural resources used for energy production, especially today when we are facing a huge energy crisis. Moreover, GHG emissions will be reduced along with their impact on the environment.


The suggestions and recommendations proposed by the auditor provide valuable information for continuous improvement. An energy audit will then provide profitability by optimising the energy consumption, productivity thanks to better optimisation of processes (equipment lifespan, maintenance, etc.) and improved performance thanks to better energy management.


Energy audits require an important investment of time and money, however, their benefits and advantages are important on many levels and at large scales. Therefore, the board of directors must see the investment as an opportunity, since the production processes will benefit from this investment as well as the company’s energy costs and bills will decrease. Innovation is an important and valuable tool for change and for a better future. The energy audit will provide the organisation with the chance for innovation by using new technologies and materials to save energy and eventually help save our planet. Let’s hope it is not too late!


To go further: 


> Improve your energy management thanks to BlueKanGo’s platform and its ISO 50001  application available on BlueMarket.

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