Strategic energy management

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Energy Star's Guidelines for energy management, a commonly referenced process for implementing SEM

Strategic energy management (SEM) is a set of processes for business energy management.[1] SEM is often deployed via programs that target the businesses or other organizations within a utility territory or a government area.[2] SEM is codified in the ISO 50001 standard for energy management systems.[3]

Energy benefits[edit]

The main goal of SEM is to help a company achieve continuous improvement in its energy performance over a longer-term period. Some energy benefits of SEM include reduced energy consumption through improved energy efficiency and energy conservation, improved peak demand management and reduced demand charges, decreased overall energy cost, reduced energy costs, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improved reliability through integration of distributed energy resources (e.g. onsite renewables, localized energy storage, combined heat and power), and improved electrical price stability and reduced GHG emissions through integration of long-term renewable energy contracts. [4]

Non-energy benefits[edit]

Although often focused on energy management, SEM also supports other goals, including: reducing downtime and increasing productivity through improved maintenance practices, reducing CO2 and other air emissions through reduced on-site fuel combustion (through efficiency or through beneficial electrification), and improved employee productivity through increased employee morale.[5]

Core elements[edit]

Most companies take several years to develop all the elements of SEM. The core or minimum elements of SEM for achieving the goal and benefits just described include[6] management commitment to long-term energy performance goals, energy planning and implementation, and system for measuring and reporting energy performance.

Current activities[edit]

SEM Collaboratives Regional SEM collaboratives have met in the Northwestern and Northeastern United States for several years, with interest expressed in other regions for similar collaborative forums.[7]

The first North American SEM Summit was conducted in Denver Colorado on August 15, 2017, with representatives from across the United States and Canada.[8]

Common services[edit]

While organizations can implement SEM on their own, many have found value in leveraging SEM specialists or SEM-based programs.

Private companies[edit]

Private companies provide SEM-based services to their customers as a dedicated consulting engagement. Other companies integrate SEM concepts into their more traditional energy engineering, energy planning, or energy project implementations.

Energy utilities[edit]

Energy utilities in the U.S. and Canada often deploy dedicated SEM programs or deploy SEM components within other programs. These utilities deploy SEM for multiple reasons increased energy savings to support utility Demand Side Management (DSM) goals, measured in electrical, gas, or other energy savings, increased customer motivation to pursue energy saving opportunities (with less required utility outreach/marketing), reduced peak demand to address constraints in generation and/or transmission/distribution, and increased long-term customer satisfaction

The target customers for these programs are typically larger organizations, often manufacturers or larger building environments such as hospitals, water utilities, and universities.

Some utility SEM programs work with customers on an individual basis, and some provide training and coaching to groups of companies, often referred to as cohorts. The cohort approach tends to be more cost-effective for the utility, since at least some of the coach/trainer’s time can serve several customers at once. In addition, the cohort can provide positive peer pressure for participants to take action and save more energy.[9]

Government agencies[edit]

Government agencies around the world often deploy SEM programs to drive adoption of ISO 50001, to increase competitiveness of the businesses within their borders, and/or to address climate priorities.[10]

ISO 50001[edit]

ISO 50001 codifies SEM by establishing universal requirements for management systems for energy (EnMSs). ISO 50001 is aligned to other management system standards for quality and environmental impact. It includes requirements for management participation, objectives, monitoring and measurement, and several other elements. [11]


  1. ^ "What Is SEM?". Retrieved 28 Aug 2017.
  2. ^ "CEESM 2016 Strategic Energy Management Program Summary" (PDF).
  3. ^ "The Strategic Energy Management Continuum" (PDF). Retrieved 28 Aug 2017.
  4. ^ "Northwest Industrial Strategic Energy Management DEFINITION, GOALS AND SUCCESSES" (PDF). Retrieved 28 Aug 2017.
  5. ^ "When Does Energy Management Become Strategic?" (PDF). Retrieved 28 Aug 2017.
  6. ^ Consortium for Energy Efficiency, “CEE Strategic Energy Management Minimum Elements,”
  7. ^ "Northwest SEM Collaborative". Retrieved 28 Aug 2017.
  8. ^ "2017 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry". Retrieved 28 Aug 2017.
  9. ^ "The Second Generation of Strategic Energy Management Programs" (PDF). Retrieved 28 Aug 2017.
  10. ^ "The Value of Energy Management Systems and ISO 50001". Retrieved 28 Aug 2017.
  11. ^ "Strategic Energy Management (SEM) Evaluation Protocol" (PDF). Retrieved 28 Aug 2017.