Energy audits are an integral part of the energy management process. They determine how efficiently energy is being consumed, and identify energy and cost-saving opportunities. Documentation addressing a standard approach to auditing the differing aspects of energy performance is now available.

Standards Australia has developed new standards for undertaking energy audits—the AS/NZS 3598 series. The series has three standards to cater for different types of activity:

The new standards replace the single AS/NZS 3598:2000 Energy audits standard, which was based on energy audits of commercial buildings. It emphasised process, had relatively light technical requirements and the energy audit levels were not tightly defined. This led to variability in the quality of energy audits performed.

Each standard in the new series has been designed to meet specific business needs. They are outcomes-based with more rigorous technical requirements for data collection and analysis than their predecessor.

‘These important energy audit documents are designed to allow organisations to better assess the energy performance of their activities,’ said Dr Bronwyn Evans, CEO Standards Australia.

Features of the new standards

Developed to be consistent with international energy management standards, the AS/NZS 3598 series encourages best practice, building on the lessons of the past 14 years of energy efficiency programs. The new standards will provide:

  • more certainty for clients and auditors
  • more detailed audits, focused on providing business outcomes
  • better consistency of deliverables
  • better quality assurance.

Ultimately, the new standards should lead to increased energy performance at company level and improved energy productivity more broadly. Features of the new standards include:

More detail and guidance

The more rigorous standards contain refined detail on the required competencies for energy auditors, and enhanced guidance for performing energy audits. The standards also provide basic guidance on energy management and identification, analysis and tracking of opportunities, including clarifying energy balance and energy end use breakdown requirements.

Different audit types

To provide more consistent outcomes, each standard includes three well-defined levels of audit:

  • Type 1 – Basic energy audit
  • Type 2 – Detailed energy audit
  • Type 3 – Precision subsystem audit.

The guidance places a greater emphasis on the role of individual organisations in implementing recommendations from audits.

Accuracy categories

The standards sets out practical accuracy categories rather than specific targets.

Three business-specific standards

Companies are able to apply more than one of the standards to their business depending on what their operations involve. For example, a manufacturer may find all three standards are needed to assess their operation which includes warehouses, manufacturing activities and the distribution chain. The three standards are outlined below, including examples of using them in combination.

AS/NZS 3598.1 Energy audits – Commercial buildings

This standard provides specific guidance and checklists for commercial building audits, including pre-audit, site visit and analysis checklists and on auditor competencies for building energy audits.

When auditing a building that includes some industrial processes, the energy auditor may apply AS/NZS 3598.2 to those activities. If auditing warehousing sites as part of a distribution chain, the auditor may use AS/NZS 3598.3 for the transport component of the activity.

AS/NZS 3598.2 Energy audits – Industrial and related activities

This standard takes into account the range of different types of processing equipment and the significant differences in the scale of operations. Work health and safety considerations are also emphasised in the audit process.

When auditing buildings associated with the industrial site, the energy auditor may choose to apply AS/NZS 3598.1. If on-site transport at a site is included in the scope of the audit, the auditor may choose to apply AS/NZS 3598.3 to this activity.

AS/NZS 3598.3 Energy audits – Transport related activities

The new standard adopts a tiered approach to auditing the specific architecture of energy use in the transport sector. This standard provides specific guidance and requirements for transport energy audits, including:

  • considerations for transport fleets
  • when to undertake audits
  • energy audit structure
  • energy auditor requirements and competencies
  • audit types
  • organisational involvement (and objectives).

Warehousing and distribution centre operations, including refrigeration systems, are covered in AS/NZS 3598.1. Fixed on-site materials handling systems, such as conveyors, are covered by AS/NZS 3598.2.

The revised standards were developed by the EN001 Energy Auditing technical committee, which had representatives from industry associations, other non-government organisations, state and federal governments from Australia and New Zealand.

The three energy audit standards documents can be purchased from the SAI Global website.