32 (127) 2017
Download PDF-version

Energy & Environment


By Adam Białkowski, lead auditor ISO 50001, BSI Group Polska
Header ab1


Global interest in energy security is growing and is reflected in the number of initiatives carried out in all EU member states at the level of government and non-governmental institutions.

In accordance with the Polish Energy Policy until 2030 adopted by the Council of Ministers on 10 November 2009, the improvement of energy efficiency in the economy is considered as a national priority. The Energy Efficiency Act of 20 May 2016* adopted by the Polish Parliament is an instrument established in Poland, designed to attain intended objectives.

This Act amended the existing act on energy efficiency, especially in such areas as current system of white certificates, which allow for trade in energy that has been conserved. The Act also introduced a completely new obligation in line with Article 8 of EEE Energy Efficiency Directive No.2012/27/UE. Directive concerning the need to carry out corporate energy audits in accordance with Article 8(4), (5) and (6).

The obligation to carry out an energy audit applies to businesses in the meaning of the Act of 2 July 2004 on freedom of economic activity (Journal of Laws of 2015, item 584, as amended), excluding micro, small or medium entrepreneur in the meaning of Article 104–106 of this Act [in other words, large businesses, employing over 250 people and turning over more than €50m a year.]. The penalty for failure to undertake an energy report is no higher than 5% of the revenue earned by the business in the previous tax year. Estimates show that a significant percentage of companies have not fulfilled this obligation, thereby putting themselves in a risk of heavy fines. And paying the fine does not exempt a business from fulfilling its statutory obligation.

An alternative to carrying out an energy audit is defined in the existing Act. Companies can implement an energy management system (EMS) laid down in  Polish Standards regarding energy management systems, requirements and recommendations for the use or environmental management system**.

The energy efficiency issue was also recognised by ISO, the International Organisation for Standardisation, which published EN ISO 50001:2011 Energy Management System standard on 15 June 2011. The publication of this international standard was noted by the Polish Committee for Standardisation level, resulting in its recognition of this standard as a Polish Standard on 15 November of that year.

The PN-EN ISO 50001 standard, despite the fact that it is not obligatory, was indicated in the Act as an alternative for the obligation to implement an energy audit and thus avoid heavy penalties. This finding is confirmed by the interpretation of the Ministry of Energy from 30 November 2016***.

The standard structure is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model well-known from other management standards. The adoption of this model allows one to create an EMS applicable to any type of organisation, irrespective of its activity profile and sector.

The implementation of the EMS consistent with the clause 4.4.3 of ISO 50001 standard requires an energy review of all energy streams in the scope of company’s activities, while the energy review is performed at the level of the system implementation as one of its obligatory elements. The nature of requirements defined in relation to the Energy Review appears to be 100% convergent with the requirements defined in the Energy Efficiency Act concerning the energy audit, which was also confirmed in the above-mentioned letter of the Ministry of Energy.

The energy review of the businesses in the meaning of the Energy Efficiency Act and the energy review performed under the implemented system should reflect a changing situation concerning the methods of use and consumption of energy. The frequency of their updating should result directly from the frequency of changes that occur in the organisation. When looking for analogy, this requirement may be referred to identification of environmental aspects under the Environmental Management System according to the ISO 14001 standard, or to the update of risks and threats under Occupational Health and Safety Management System 18001.

As a consolation, I will add that it is assessed that 10–30% of energy efficiency may be achieved by changing a company's behaviour culture or by low-cost operational changes. Only then do we face other, more expensive and technically advanced solutions such as installation of building automation systems, installation of LED lighting systems, replacement of technical devices with more energy-efficient ones.

The main difference that emerges in relation to the provisions of Energy Efficiency Act is the assurance of business continuity of the EMS. In the ISO 50001:2011 standard there is no reference to a single actions, but there are references to actions that ensure continuous improvement. And we won’t be able to achieve this without changing people’s attitudes and shaping different view on energy efficiency issues among the staff. Raising employees’ awareness, their involvement, appropriate delegation of responsibilities and powers is one of the key elements of the ISO 50001:2011 standard. The implementation is not limited to a single manifest but rather to constant supervision of the system operation and thereby improving production or the services provided to the economy.

The Act doesn’t make it obligatory to certify a system. However, the interpretation of the requirement included in the Act – a business having an EMS defined by the relevant Polish Standard, will be respected only when this fact is confirmed by certificates issued by an accredited body.

In this short article, I tried to present benefits resulting from implementation and certification of PN-EN ISO 50001 standard. You will build not only reliable energy management control mechanisms in your organisations, but also you will comply with the provisions and avoid severe financial penalties.

* Journal of Laws of 2016, item 831

** Article 2(13) of Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009.

*** Letter, ref. DE-II-024-18/16.

More in Energy & Environment:

All change on the environmental front

Agnieszka Skorupińska, counsel, head of Environmental Law Practice, CMS


The pace of development of Poland’s environmental law in recent years has been fast and looks set to get even faster.

Investing, improving, helping

by Dorota Adamska, director of corporate and external communication


Whatever the trends and tendencies, BP wishes to remain the leading energy provider for transport and meet the present and future needs of its customers.

Waste management: When local governments and private companies partner up, who stands to benefit?

By Tomasz Korczyński, counsel at Dentons’ Warsaw office, co-head of the PPP practice in Poland


When local governments team up with private companies to implement investment projects, they gain access to more capital, but in many cases they also have more certainty that their projects will be completed on time and within the planned budget.

Smart technologies, or how intelligent systems protect water and air

By Agnieszka Klich-Dubik, senior marketing specialist, Future Processing


Half a billion litres of water saved, the amount of water consumed by 20,000 people annually, and much quicker response to water supply failures.