ISO 50001 – Context of the organisation

ISO 50001 Energy Management – Understanding the Context of The Organisation

One of the major changes in ISO 50001 is the restructuring of the standard around ISO’s high level structure. This helps to align ISO 50001 with the other mainstream standards.

However, for those organisations who only have an existing ISO 50001:2011 certification in place or if you are implementing ISO 50001:2018 for the first time then this clause may be causing some confusion. So what does context of the organisation mean..?

The clause is broken down into 4 parts:

  • 4.1 Understanding the organization and its context
  • 4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties
  • 4.3 Determining the scope of the energy management system
  • 4.4 Energy management system

If we work through clause 4 from start to finish we will have identified those relevant issues that are affecting us and identified the needs and expectations of our interested parties, including those that are considered legal requirements, defined the scope of certification and identified the EnMS processes and their interactions.

So commencing with 4.1. A review of annex A4 in ISO 50001 provides us with a steer to determining issues.

Examples of external issues can include:

  • issues related to interested parties such as existing national or sector objectives, requirements or standards;
  • restrictions or limitations on energy supply, security and reliability;
  • energy costs or the availability of types of energy;
  • effects of weather;
  • effects of climate change;
  • effect on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Examples of internal issues can include:

  • core business objectives and strategy;
  • asset management plans;
  • financial resource (labour, financial, etc.) affecting the organization;
  • energy management maturity and culture;
  • sustainability considerations;
  • contingency plans for interruptions in energy supply;
  • maturity of existing technology;
  • operational risks and liability considerations.

SWOT and /or PESTLE analysis can be also considered as an effective tool for determining issues, equally a robust business plan should include consideration of issues relating to energy supply and use as part of effective business planning. Note, at this stage we only need to identify the issues, however we will return to our issues when we address clause 6.1.

A simple table can be used to capture the needs and expectations of interested parties which addresses 4.2 a), b) and c), or you may use other techniques such as stakeholder mapping or questionnaires to establish their needs. Useful online resources such as can be used to identify the relevant legislation, other sources include

Once 4.1 and 4.2 have been effectively addressed, you have the information required to establish the scope and boundaries of certification, noting that in the revision of ISO 50001 no energy sources can be initially excluded from certification at this stage.

The organization shall ensure that it has the authority to control its energy efficiency, energy use and energy consumption within the scope and boundaries. The organization shall not exclude an energy type within the scope and boundaries.

The boundaries of certification can be considered to be the physical sites, buildings, facilities and physical assets that will be included in the management system.

The scope and boundaries need to be maintained as documented information, so consider where this will be documented within the management system.

Once the scope and boundaries are defined you can then consider the processes that will be included in the EnMS. If we consider that processes will include inputs (raw materials, energy etc) , outputs (products and services) and require resources in the form of people to support them we can map out these processes and ultimately decide whether they sit inside or outside the scope and boundaries of certification. Again, consider documenting this information to help you when undertaking energy review and when determining the relevant operational controls and monitoring and measurement requirements needed to maintain the EnMS.

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