ISO 14000 14001 Standards: Environmental Management

IQA – Portland, Oregon ISO 14001 Standards Training & Consultant Company

Worth noting is that for ISO conformance,documentation is not the objective, it is a means to an end. Proof: read ISO 9001: 2008 and notice it requires only 8 documented procedures, which by the way are not related to the design, manufacturing and testing of products or services.

To focus onfor ISO and to be a lot more effective than most organizations:

  1. Demonstration of process control at all levels of the organization:
    • Use of key performance indicators (KPIs) can be helpful here. Include KPIs for processes such as corrective and preventive action, internal and external audits etc,
    • If your process is under control you have the right mix of competency, documentation, instrumentation, materials etc. You should however remain vigilant for identification of opportunities for improvement.
  2. Team work instead of well intended solo activities:
    • Corrective and preventive actions shall be addressed by a team rather than by a quality manager. These actions bring the largest opportunity for improvement and should be taken seriously. A brief weekly meeting between managers from the various departments can greatly improve root cause analysis and this enhance the effectiveness of the solutions provided.
  3. For any problem, devise a solution and an alternative solution

Committees wrote these ISO standards, and although common-sense and non-bureaucratic in nature, they are not easy to understand without some guidance.

We will be happy to put you on the right track. Contact IQA by phone: 503 522 9456, or you can Email Us.

More About ISO 14000 / 14001 (Source: Wikipedia)

A good source of information is the ISO website:

High level information regarding these standards is available through Wikipedia:

ISO 14001 standard

The standard is not an environmental management system as such and therefore does not dictate absolute environmental performance requirements (National Academy Press 1999), but serves instead as a framework to assist organizations in developing their own environmental management system (RMIT University). ISO 14001 can be integrated with other management functions and assists companies in meeting their environmental and economic goals.

ISO 14001, as with other ISO 14000 standards, is voluntary (IISD 2010), with its main aim to assist companies in continually improving their environmental performance, whilst complying with any applicable legislation. Organizations are responsible for setting their own targets and performance measures, with the standard serving to assist them in meeting objectives and goals and the subsequent monitoring and measurement of these (IISD 2010). This means that two organizations that have completely different measures and standards of environmental performance, can both comply with ISO 14001 requirements (Federal Facilities Council Report 1999).

The standard can be applied to a variety of levels in the business, from organizational level, right down to the product and service level (RMIT university). Rather than focusing on exact measures and goals of environmental performance, the standard highlights what an organization needs to do to meet these goals (IISD 2010). Success of the system is very dependant on commitment from all levels of the organization, especially top management (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004), who need to be actively involved in the development, implementation and maintenance of the environmental management system ( 2010). In 2008 there were an estimated 188 000 companies from 155 countries, certified as ISO 14001 compliant ( 2010)

ISO 14001 is known as a generic management system standard, meaning that it is applicable to any size and type of organisation, product or service, in any sector of activity and can accommodate diverse socio-cultural and geographic conditions (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004). All standards are periodically reviewed by ISO and new ones issued (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004).

Basic principles and methodology

The fundamental principle and overall goal of the ISO 14001 standard, is the concept of continual improvement (Federal Facilities Council Report 1999). ISO 14001 is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004) which has been expanded to include 17 elements, grouped into five phases that relate to Plan-Do-Check-Act; Environmental Policy, Planning, Implementation & Operation, Checking & Corrective Action and lastly Management Review (Martin 1998).
Prior to implementing ISO 14001, an initial review or gap analysis of the organisation’s processes and products is recommended, to assist in identifying all elements of the current operation and if possible future operations, that may interact with the environment, termed environmental aspects (Martin 1998). Environmental aspects can include both direct, such as those used during manufacturing and indirect, such as raw materials (Martin 1998). This review assists the organisation in establishing their environmental objectives, goals and targets, which should ideally be measurable; helps with the development of control and management procedures and processes and serves to highlight any relevant legal requirements, which can then be built into the policy (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004).

Do – implement the processes

During this stage the organization identifies the resources required and works out those members of the organisation responsible for the EMS’ implementation and control (Martin 1998). This includes documentation of all procedures and processes; including operational and documentation control, the establishment of emergency procedures and responses, and the education of employees, to ensure they can competently implement the necessary processes and record results (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004). Communication and participation across all levels of the organisation, especially top management is a vital part of the implementation phase, with the effectiveness of the EMS being dependant on active involvement from all employees (Federal Facilities Council Report 1999).

Check – measure and monitor the processes and report results

During the check stage, performance is monitored and periodically measured to ensure that the organisation’s environmental targets and objectives are being met (Martin 1998). In addition, internal audits are regularly conducted to ascertain whether the EMS itself is being implemented properly and whether the processes and procedures are being adequately maintained and monitored (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004).

Act – take action to improve performance of EMS based on results

After the checking stage, a regular planned management review is conducted to ensure that the objectives of the EMS are being met, the extent to which they are being met, that communications are being appropriately managed and to evaluate changing circumstances, such as legal requirements, in order to make recommendations for further improvement of the system (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004). These recommendations are then fed back into the planning stage to be implemented into the EMS moving forward.

Continual Improvement Process

The core requirement of a continual improvement process (CIP) is different from the one known from quality management systems. CIP in ISO 14001 has three dimensions (Gastl, 2009):

Overall, the CIP-concept expects the organization to gradually move away from merely operational environmental measures towards a strategic approach on how to deal with environmental challenges.


ISO 14001 was developed primarily to assist companies in reducing their environmental impact, but in addition to an improvement in environmental standards and performance, organizations can reap a number of economic benefits including higher conformance with legislative and regulatory requirements (Sheldon 1997) by utilizing the ISO standard. Firstly by minimizing the risk of regulatory and environmental liability fines and improving an organization’s efficiency (Delmas 2001), leading to a reduction in waste and consumption of resources, operating costs can be reduced ( 2010). Secondly, as an internationally recognized standard, businesses operating in multiple locations across the globe can register as ISO 14001 compliant, eliminating the need for multiple registrations or certifications (Hutchens 2010). Thirdly there has been a push in the last decade by consumers, for companies to adopt stricter environmental regulations, making the incorporation of ISO 14001 a greater necessity for the long term viability of businesses (Delmas & Montiel 2009) and providing them with a competitive advantage against companies that do not adopt the standard (Potoki & Prakash, 2005). This in turn can have a positive impact on a company’s asset value (Van der Deldt, 1997) and can lead to improved public perceptions of the business, placing them in a better position to operate in the international marketplace (Potoki & Prakash 1997; Sheldon 1997). Finally it can serve to reduce trade barriers between registered businesses (Van der Deldt, 1997).

Organizations can significantly benefit from EMS implementation through the identification of large cleaner production projects (e.g. which can drastically cut electricity costs in manufacturing industries). ISO 14001 can be a very effective tool to identify these cost savings opportunities for some organizations. Some other organizations can falter in its planning, lack of senior management commitment and poor understanding of how it should be implemented and find themselves managing an ineffective EMS. Improvements that organizations can make include adequately planning their structure and allocating adequate resources, providing training, creating forums for discussion, setting measurable targets and working according to the philosophy of continuous improvement (Burden, 2010).

Conformity Assessment

ISO 14001 can be used in whole or in part to help an organization, for profit or not-for-profit, better manage its relationship with the environment. If all the elements of ISO 14001 are incorporated into the management process, the organization may opt to prove that it has achieved full alignment or conformity with the international standard, ISO 14001, by using one of four recognized options. These are:

  • Option 1 is sometimes incorrectly referred to as ‘self-certify” or “self-certification”. This is not an acceptable reference under ISO terms and definitions, for it can lead to confusion in the market (Reference: ISO/IEC 17000:2004(E/F/R)).
  • Option 2 is often referred to as a customer or 2nd party audit, which is an acceptable market term.
  • Option 3 is an independent third-party process that is based on the EnviroReady Report, which is the proprietary name for a service provided by specially trained professional accountants. The training process for accountants is managed by It is categorized by ISO as a recognition scheme. It was designed to assist small and medium-sized enterprise, but can be used by any entity.
  • Option 4, certification, is another independent third-party process, which tends to be used by large firms. Certification is also known in some markets as registration. Service providers of certification or registration are accredited by national standards bodies; these service providers are usually listed on the website of the national standards body.

ISO 14001 Consultancy

ISO 14001 relates to environmental issues. Although it is a system standard, it requires an organization to identify and assess environmental aspects and take necessary control to reduce environmental impacts. Many organizations need to put efforts into taking on additional environmental tasks so they employ ISO 14001 consultancy firms to solve the technical environmental issues. Training is the first step in implementing ISO 14001. Organizations may then consider ISO 14001 consultancy.