The original idea for a plant energy efficiency certification program came from energy managers at several industrial plants in Texas. They wanted to achieve energy savings, identify a more effective way to manage energy performance, and foster a culture of energy efficiency at their plants, similar to the success they had experienced in their safety programs. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Energy was seeing sizeable energy savings materialize through its Save Energy Now program. The Superior Energy Performance program was born from the recognition that a more comprehensive and disciplined approach was needed to maximize industrial energy performance.

By using the program's systematic approach and following the Energy Management Standard, industrial plants can improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase productivity. Corporate-level energy management also can provide a competitive advantage in the global marketplace, enhance corporate identity and improve environmental performance.

Companies must conform to the ANSI/MSE 2000-2008 standard, which will transition to ISO 50001 once the international standard is launched. ISO 50001 will establish an international framework for sites or entire companies to manage energy and will be compatible with the widely used ISO 9001 quality and ISO 14001 environmental management standards.

The system assessment standards developed in conjunction with the Superior Energy Performance program provide firms with guidance in conducting energy efficiency assessments for four types of energy systems: compressed air, process heating, pumps and steam. The standards, which are being developed through ASME, will establish the requirements for conducting assessments at industrial plants, analyzing data and reporting results. The program does not require that a plant use these standards when identifying energy-saving opportunities. However, having assessment standards in place allow plant personnel to specify that energy system assessments be conducted using the applicable standard.