Energy audits & Energy Management Systems

Find in this section information about energy efficiency in the EU policy framework, what energy audits and management systems are, what Member States and companies should do and the barriers and good practices to implementation.

Energy efficiency in the EU policy framework: article 8 of the EED

Improving energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce energy-related emissions, improve economic competitiveness and increase energy security.

Energy efficiency appears in several pieces of EU legislation, aimed at guiding states and companies on ways to improve their energy efficiency. One of them is the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), establishing a common framework of measures and requirements with the goal to remove market barriers and promote a more efficient use of energy in supply and demand.

Few years back, in the context of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, the EED was revised. Key provisions linked to energy audits and energy management systems are listed here:

Article 8 – Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU (EU EED): energy audits and energy management systems

  1. Member States shall promote the availability to all final customers of high-quality energy audits …
  2. Member States shall develop programmes to encourage SMEs to undergo energy audits and the subsequent implementation of the recommendations from these audits.
  3. On the basis of transparent and non-discriminatory criteria and without prejudice to Union State aid law, Member States may set up support schemes for SMEs…
  4. Energy audits shall be considered as fulfilling the requirements of paragraph 4 when they are carried out in an independent manner, on the basis of minimum criteria based on Annex VI, Access of market participants offering energy services shall be based on transparent and non-discriminatory criteria.
  5. Enterprises that are not SMEs and that are implementing an energy or environmental management system – certified by an independent body according to the relevant European or International Standards – shall be exempted from the requirements of paragraph 4,
  6. Energy audits may stand alone or be part of a broader environmental audit…
Without prejudice to Union State aid law, Member States may implement incentive and support schemes for the implementation of recommendations from energy audits and similar measures.

EU Member States (MS), who have now transposed article 8 into national legislation, are therefore required to ensure that large companies carry out energy audits or implement energy management systems and subsequently should encourage Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to do the same. EU MS should implement support measures that allow SMEs to reach their energy savings goals.

DEESME will follow legislative evolutions, – as they have an impact and need to be transposed at national levels- and update this section as the policy framework evolves.

DEESME will also support National Authorities with new proposals for schemes falling under article 8 of the EED.

What are energy audits and management systems?

The difference between the energy audit and the EMS lies in the difference between a systematic, one-time procedure and a long-term strategy.

Energy audit

An assessment of the energy needs and efficiency of a building or buildings used to find the inefficiencies, done through an inspection survey and an analysis of the energy use, to identify improvements that need to be made to increase energy efficiency. This is often the first step in identifying opportunities to reduce energy expenses and carbon footprint.

Energy Management System (EMS)

A framework of practical procedures and processes (monitoring, control) for buildings or organisations to achieve best practices relating to energy efficiency, use and consumption, through the setting and delivery of energy targets. The energy management process starts with an energy audit to find opportunities to improve efficiency, then putting It into action with a number of strategies and then tracking the progress of the made changes. The EMS is usually aligned with ISO 50001, providing a means of validating a best practice approach and recognising an organisation’s commitment to energy performance management and improvement.

What do countries have to do?

Member States have all chosen different approaches to transpose the requirements into national laws and “instruments” to support companies (trainings, websites, helplines and funding support schemes). The MURE database lists a total of 220 active policy measures both in industry and in the tertiary sector and classifies each into two broad categories. The first category focuses on financial measures, while the second looks at information, educational and training measures.

Driven by the EED, EU Member States have launched schemes to help companies and SMEs in particular to implement energy saving measures. Unlike the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and large companies, SMEs have less technical human and financial resources to improve their energy efficiency. Barriers have been deeply investigated including lack of awareness, low capital and difficulty to access financing, doubts around actual saving potential and the lack of technical human resources. So, national schemes are finalized to provide them with technical resources such as methodologies, best practices, technologies inventories and subsidies. Some of the schemes introduce mandatory actions (energy analysis) to obtain such subsidies.

Nevertheless, national policy schemes have failed to some extent to convince SMEs that the energy audit is something more than a “bureaucratic fulfilment” to obtain a contribution and to also push large companies to move from the analysis to the investment. According to a study for the European Commission, the level of implementation of the EED art. 8 is incomplete and needs integration and guiding documents. Implementation challenges are similar across the countries and include identifying and encouraging relevant companies and monitoring the implementation of the audits. There are various ways to deal with these challenges in individual MS and some are more advanced than others. DEESME will support identifying, listing, and tackling these challenges.


What should companies do?

Calculate their total energy consumption, with the audit examining energy use across buildings, transport and industrial activities. The main technical standards currently used are EN 16247 for the energy audit and EN ISO 50001 for the EMS. A new ISO 50009 is under approval, DEESME will follow it up.

The effectiveness of energy audit recommendations is influenced by people’s behaviours and the improvement of enterprises’ energy culture. The availability of reliable energy consumption data is of utmost importance to monitor the impact of energy saving measures and behaviours. Typically, an energy audit closes with the identification of the economic and financial potential of technological solutions to reduce energy consumption and costs. This traditional approach through has led to results below expectations. Although energy audits are co-financed by national or European funds or included in win-win systems (for example in Italy an obligation exists for companies that require tax reduction on energy costs), non-obliged companies (mainly SMEs) are not aware of their usefulness. Obliged companies very rarely realise the improvement actions identified in audits and hence do not carry out the required investments.

The actions should lead SMEs to become fully aware of the multiple benefits resulting from energy audits as well as facilitating their actual implementation. Capacity building programmes should also support implementation of the recommended energy-saving measures both for small and large enterprises. The DEESME approach includes awareness raising and capacity building activities, to create a culture around energy saving and increase the perception of multiple benefits. This will include the active involvement of companies’ personnel and management to develop the next steps to 2030, paving the way towards a strategic vision to 2050.

DEESME will try to make energy efficiency and national schemes under EED art. 8 more attractive for all types of companies regardless whether they are obliged or not as well as for both large companies and SMEs, guaranteeing a greater and motivated participation, emphasizing that:

Energy savings is only part of the economic benefits granted by energy efficiency projects. DEESME will update and promote the tools created by the M-Benefits project to evaluate and quantify other economic benefits.

Energy savings also mean reducing GHG emissions and therefore participating in climate change mitigation.

There are not only technological investments but also organizational ones, less expensive (e.g. ISO 50001; ISO 14064/14069; ISO/TC 46001 “Water efficiency management system”) that could be proposed as an opportunity as well as mandatory in some cases).

Companies’ managers and staff will be closely involved (the audit must not be totally delegated to an external technician who delivers the results).

Companies should protect themselves from energy price trends which could be affected by strong and sudden increases due to exceptional factors (e.g. intensification of the climate crisis; increasing conflicts).

Companies must be empowered to face the new challenges by 2050.

Barriers to implementation and good practices


Based on the findings in 4 pilot countries from preliminary studies from DEESME and the H2020 project SPEEDIER, a few barriers can already be listed:

  • Despite the requirement in Article 8 of the Energy Efficiency Directive for Members States to implement support schemes that encourage SMEs to undertake energy audits and implement the recommended energy saving measures, most SMEs surveyed in all pilot regions have not had an energy audit in the last 5 years.

  • Despite the low proportion of SMEs undertaking energy audits, most SMEs surveyed have still implemented some kind of Energy Conservation Measure (ECM). The most commonly deployed ECM is upgrading the LED lights.

  • Few SMEs have undertaken any kind of staff awareness programme relating to energy efficiency.

  • SMEs identify lack of finance or return on investment as key barriers to implementing energy efficiency measures. Additional barriers are lack of awareness, doubts around actual saving potential and the lack of technical human resources. Energy efficiency appears as low priority for SMEs compared to other business needs and activities. They are more likely to take action on issues that are important to their existing customers; enable them to attract new customers or enable them to score more highly on public sector tenders.

… yet, some good practices are worth being noted. First are listed below while more will be studied in DEESME and shared here:

  • A programme offering subsidies for energy audits was launched by the German Ministry of Economy in 2008. The funds resulted in 1.4 TWh energy savings per year, 470,000 tons CO2 reduction, investments of 480 million €, and energy cost savings of 80 million €. Programme costs amount to 0,5-0,7 Euro/MWh energy saved. (Efficiency of an energy audit programme for SMEs in Germany – results of an evaluation study – IREES, ISI)

    • Energy audits programmes supported by National Authorities are important for achieving energy savings!

  • Learning Energy Efficiency Networks (LEEN). In 366 companies, 7,030 measures were identified, 3,580 of which seemed profitable (with an IRR greater than 12%). 207 measures (ONLY 6% of the economically feasible potential) have been implemented and 98.5 MWh/year energy savings (4% of the savings potential) have been achieved. (Köwener et al., 2014)

    • As is mobilising/motivating companies with the multiple benefits of energy efficiency.