Industrial Utility Efficiency

Standards for Compressed Air System Assessments

Compressors in today’s market must meet a variety of standards written by a wide range of organizations throughout the world. Until recently, most standards were written to deal with safety, both mechanical and electrical, and performance of the individual components of a compressed air system. Recognition of the significant amount of power used by compressed air systems has led to a shift in standards writing over the past couple of decades. Testing standards have been or are being revised to give end users a clearer picture of how components will perform. Standards are being written to help users manage their total energy consumption. Additional standards are close to being released that will help users evaluate their compressed air systems as a “system”. These newer standards can have a significant impact on plant energy consumption if properly applied.

Significant among these new standards is ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) EA-4-2008 and ISO 11011. EA-4-2008 will become an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard when its development is complete. ISO 11011 will be an international standard. Both of these standards deal with requirements for an assessment of a compressed air system.

ASME Standard EA-4-2008

The ASME standard, EA-4-2008, is part of a suite of assessment standards that include compressed air systems, pumping systems, steam and process heat. ASME describes EA-4-2008 as follows:

Scope: This Standard covers compressed air systems which are defined as a group of sub-systems comprised of integrated sets of components including air compressors, treatment equipment, controls, piping, pneumatic tools, pneumatically powered machinery, and process applications utilizing compressed air. The objective is consistent, reliable, and efficient delivery of energy to manufacturing equipment and processes.


This Standard sets requirements for conducting and reporting the results of a compressed air system assessment (hereafter reference as an “assessment”) that considers the entire system, from energy inputs to the work performed as the result of these inputs. An assessment complying with this Standard need not address each individual system component or subsystem within an industrial facility with equal weight; however, it must be sufficiently comprehensive to identify the major energy efficiency opportunities for improving the overall energy performance of the system. This Standard is designed to be applied primarily at industrial facilities, but many of the concepts can be used in other facilities such as those in the institutional and commercial sectors.

The Standard sets requirements for: 1) organizing and conducting an assessment, 2) analyzing the data from an assessment, and 3) assessment reporting and documentation.

The intent is to provide industry with set of uniform requirements that must be met during the assessment of particular factory energy system. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working with the Superior Energy Performance Partnership, the ASME and industry experts in the development of these standards as part of an initiative to improve overall energy efficiency of manufacturing plants in the United States.

The Superior Energy Performance (SEP) partnership is a collaboration involving DOE, industrial companies, ANSI, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The SEP is developing a program to certify industrial facilities for energy efficiency. The program includes as a core element compliance with an energy management standard, initially ANSI MSE 2000:2008 and once it is available in 2011, ISO 50001, an international energy management standard.

The system assessment standards are consistent with the goals of both energy management standards. This SEP also plans to develop a program to certify practitioners for the application of both the energy management standard and the four system assessment standards under development. The intent is to establish a baseline of expertise required to apply these standards.

U.S. DOE and the Texas Industries of the Future are working together to pilot the certification program for industrial energy efficiency at five facilities in Texas. Feedback from testing ASME EA-4-2008 at these facilities and about 20 other sites will be used to refine the standards prior to final release as an ASME/ANSI standard.

ISO 11011 Standard

ISO is also developing a standard for compressed air system assessments, ISO 11011. Technical Committee (TC) 118 deals with “compressors and pneumatic tools, machines and equipment” and is in charge of developing this standard. Sub-committee (SC) 6 is tasked with this project. Development of this standard began several years ago in an effort to give users some idea of what a “competent examiner” should be doing in order to complete a proper assessment of a compressed air system. This is basically the same motivation as that of the U.S. standard. The British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) had already seen that the lack of a standard allowed people of varying degrees of expertise to promote just about any level of system examination as a compressed air system assessment. BCAS has developed a training and certification program to address this issue and has been very involved in the development of 11011.

  ISO 10111 and ASME EA-4-2008 are being written to help users manage their total energy consumption.    

In the fall of 2007, the Compressed Air and Gas Institute (CAGI) hosted a meeting of SC 6 in Phoenix, Arizona. This meeting was scheduled to follow a regular CAGI meeting and several CAGI members stayed to attend the SC 6 meeting. This was the first time that many of the CAGI participants had seen the draft of the ISO assessment standard. At that point, the proposed standard was only a few pages long and covered only a very limited scope. Since it was clear that the U.S. would also be developing a standard, the U.S. participants pushed to expand the scope of the ISO standard to at least get close to what was being done by the ASME team. By the end of the SC 6 meeting, the original ISO proposal was scrapped and work began on a more comprehensive draft.

A new draft of 11011 was circulated to members in 2008 for comment. Comments were gathered by CAGI in the summer of 2008 and provided to ANSI to deliver to ISO. The U.S. comments were more extensive than the draft standard and were intended to guide the ISO standard in the same direction as the ASME/ANSI standard being developed in the U.S. At a meeting of TC 118 in the fall of 2008, SC 6 adopted virtually all of the U.S. comments. A second committee draft international standard will be circulated soon for additional comments and further refinement. It is now a goal of SC 6 to develop a standard that is close enough to the U.S. standard that an assessment done to one standard will provide the same results as an assessment done to the other standard.

The U.S. standard should be in final form by mid-2009. It then has to go through the voting cycle to become an ANSI standard. The current target date for release of the standard is early in 2010. The ISO standard is still a Committee Draft and will go through another round of commenting in early 2009. These comments will be discussed at the next meeting of SC 6 in Phoenix in November of 2009. At that time, SC 6 will decide whether to keep 11011 as a Committee Draft for further rework or to release it for wider review as a Draft International Standard. The target date for release of 11011 is 2010-2011.

For more information please contact Wayne Perry at email: or visit