Since its inception, EARTH University has been committed to sustainability and the responsible use of natural resources. To support this commitment, the University established the Environmental Action Unit over 25 years ago to lead institutional environmental management through the generation of indicators, implementation of actions, and environmental education. Key areas of focus include carbon neutrality, water resource management, waste management, and the use of alternative energies. This unit spearheaded the process that led us to become the first university in Costa Rica to achieve certification under the International Standards Organization Standard for optimizing energy management and efficiency (ISO 50001:2018). As background, the ISO is an independent body made up of an extensive network of individuals who are experts in different areas who share and pool together their experience and knowledge of different fields to determine best practices and key safety information to define the best way of carrying out certain tasks or processes.
This particular international standard provides a solid framework to assist organizations in establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an effective energy management system. It serves as the foundation for many worldwide organizations to develop their own policies to improve and balance energy use and achieve ongoing improvements that align with a sustainable and efficient model.
In December 2021, the project to initiate the certification process was approved, leading to the formation of the Energy Management System (EMS) Committee comprising more than ten individuals from different units within our university. All committee members received training and worked together to make the certification possible. The certification was received after completing the development of baseline records for EMS reporting, implementation of controls and objectives, and various internal and external audits.
After all these collective efforts, led by Manrique Arguedas, Coordinator of the Environmental Action Unit, José Francisco Calderón, Head of the Maintenance Unit, and Ramón Gónzalez, Vice President of Operations, we happily received the news of the certification in April.
According to Manrique Arguedas, “This experience has allowed us to reach new heights as we are dealing with an international standardization process. It is a great achievement for the university as it gives us the endorsement to prepare for a large-scale renewable energy project, having demonstrated our energy efficiency. This enables us to continue working on concrete projects.”
Some advantages of this Standard include cost reduction, as certified organizations can identify areas of inefficient energy consumption and take measures to reduce operating costs. It also ensures institutional commitment to the environment, compliance with regulatory requirements related to energy management, promotion of environmental education that encourages impactful daily actions through consistent practice, and fostering innovation by seeking new opportunities and technologies that can improve the energy performance of an organization like EARTH. Additionally, the implementation of a metering plan has improved energy management has resulted in significant monthly savings on electricity bills.
We thank the Environmental Action Unit, the EMS Committee, and the EARTH community for making this significant certification possible!