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Managing energy responsibly: CERN is awarded ISO 50001 certification

CERN Meyrin site aerial views
The CERN Meyrin site (Image: CERN)

CERN’s accelerators are responsible for most of its energy consumption. As powerful research instruments, these machines make a unique scientific programme possible and support a global community of scientists. CERN makes every effort to run them in the most energy-efficient way possible. Powering CERN’s unique array of accelerators, detectors and infrastructure primarily needs electricity, which accounts for about 95% of CERN’s energy use. In addition, the Laboratory uses gas for heating, as well as fuel for transport and for backup diesel generators. 

CERN is committed to improving its energy performance as part of its commitment to environmentally responsible research. In this context, the Organization began the ISO 50001 certification process in 2022.

This reference international standard provides a practical way to improve energy performance and allows organisations to integrate energy management into their overall efforts to improve quality and environmental management. As part of the associated continual improvement process, CERN submitted its energy performance plan for 2022–2026 to the French authorities in June 2022. The ISO 50001 certification audit, carried out by the French national organisation for standardisation (AFNOR), took place at the end of the year. CERN provided AFNOR with all relevant documentation and information on its processes, including, but not limited to, a new energy management manual, a new procedure for procurement in view of assessing energy performance, a communications plan dedicated to energy, and the updated energy management governance and structure. A range of technical assessments were performed, involving the Laboratory’s largest energy consumers, to ensure that we conform to the standard.

Further, the Organization’s Energy Policy was published in October 2022. The policy is designed to continuously improve CERN’s energy performance and minimise the impact of its activities on the environment. Its objectives are to keep the energy required for its activities to a minimum, improve energy efficiency and recover waste energy. The continuous improvement of CERN’s energy performance will be achieved by defining, monitoring and updating guidelines, objectives and indicators based on energy use measurements, best practices and feedback; training and raising awareness among the CERN community; monitoring trends, regulatory developments and best practices in energy performance; and maintaining an energy management system compliant with the ISO 50001 standard.

The ISO 50001 certification was officially awarded on 2 February 2023 for a period of three years, i.e. until 1 February 2026, and covers all of the Organization’s sites, activities and energies.

During those three years, surveillance audits will be carried out on a yearly basis by AFNOR to confirm compliancy and continuous improvement. The first one is expected to be scheduled for early 2024.

For more information about energy management at CERN, see https://hse.cern/content/energy-management.