Although there has been individuals and groups involved in the environment and ecology for centuries, it has only been the last few decades that interest has "heated up" in the general public (global warming?). Consequently, you have reached this page because
- You are getting started and want to know what this is all about; or
- You have already decided that you need to do something and are looking for direction and help.
The biggest problem is that most of the terms and activities are evolving. Early adopters of "sustainability" and "green" tended to focus only on the impact of activities on ecology. Similar to the move to a systems approach in quality, the "sustainability" and "green" focus has evolved to include all the elements of a system: economic, environmental, and societal (social, cultural, ethical, etc.).
This website will provide you with the information and direction you can use to make your organization sustainable as well as lean and green.
Benefits of ISO 14001 Certification
- Enhance image and market share
- Improve cost control
- Conserve input materials, water and energy
- Facilitate permits and authorizations
- Improve industry-government relations
- Possible marketing advantage
- Conformity to international standards
Getting Started (with ISO 14001)
When you organization has decided to start its environmental excellence journey, there are several common steps that can be followed:
- Initial assessment
- EMS Development and Implementation
- Outside evaluation
- Certification (optional)
- Continual improvement
The organization must make its commitment to environmental excellence visible to all stakeholders. This requires the establishment and implementation of an Environmental Management System (EMS) and related Environmental Policy. The organization's leadership must also decide, typically after the initial assessment, how rapidly does it want to proceed down the road to sustainability excellence.
Top Executive responsibility
- Ensure policy is implemented, communicated, and understood by organization
- Approporiate to nature, scale, and environmental impact of activities products and services
- Commitment to continual improvement
- Commitment to prevention of pollution
- Compliance to legislative and other requirements
- Set and review environmental objectives and targets
- Policy documented, implemented and maintained and communicated to employees
- Available to the public
Omnex can assist in this by conducting an Executive Workshop on Sustainable Design and Development as well as providing on-site coaching.
It is important for an organization to understand what its current status is. Most organizations have many activities in place now for compliance to State and Federal regulations. Further, an environmental strategy should not be a separate initiative but integrated within and throughout the existing business operation system. This assessment of yourr current environmental status need to be to an established set of environmental criteria such as the ISO 14000 standards. Although an organization can develop its own checklist for this activity, it is often more efficient and effective to out-source this review. The outcome of assessment should be a gap analysis and (short term) recommended actions. These results are then used as input to the planning of the EMS improvements and implementation.
Omnex has performed many business system reviews for organizations and has assisted them in identifying the most effective strategy to achieve excellence effectively through workshops and coaching.
Unless an organization has already started on it environmental excellence journey, the first step would be to establish an EMS. If you are already have this foundation in place, you can go to the Next Steps.
EMS Development and Implementation
The EMS must be well planned and implemented if it is to be effective. The EMS must NOT be a separate activity or focus but integrated into the Business Operation System. This requires the
- Identify Significant Environmental Aspects
- Establish Objectives, Targets and Programs
- Define Organization, Training and Communication Requirements
- Establish EMS Documentation
- Establish and Implement Operational Controls
- Measure, Monitor and Improve the EMS
- Conduct Management Reviews
Besides ongoing internal audits of the EMS (required by ISO 14001), it is useful to have an "independent" assessment of your EMS. These external assessments may be conducted by a third party auditor as part of certification activity or by some other qualified reviewing agency. The advantage of outside reviewer is that the compliance of your EMS can be evaluated as well as the identification of "opportunities for improvement" - a new set of eyes, as it were.
Note: many third party auditors/registrars still only provide compliance assessment.
This step is optional if you do not have any corporate customer who is requiring certification. In any event, this step can be advantageous to the organization by providing a certificate of compliance from an accredited registrar. Some benefits of certification are:
- Enhancement of corporate image and market share
- May facilitate permits and authorizations
- Improves industry-government relations
- Possible marketing advantage
A key part of the major performance excellence criteria and quality and environmental standards is continual improvement. This recognizes that environmental excellence is not an even but a journey. It is not sufficient for an organization to establish and maintain an EMS but it must continually review (e.g., through management review meetings at all levels) the status of the EMS and identify and implement improvements to the system - with the final plateau of Sustainable Design and Development.
Key to Success
A key to a successful ISO 14001 EMS is having documented procedures that are implemented and maintained so that they describe environmental goals and their place in all other company-wide activities. Key to ISO 14001 implementation is integration with the existing business processes, typically described in your ISO 9001 system. (For more on Integrated Management Systems click here). ISO 14001 standards require sites to document and make an Environmental Policy available to the public. In addition, procedures should be established for a continuous review of the environmental aspects and the impacts of products, activities, and services. Based on these environmental aspects and impacts, then goals and objectives are established that are consistent with the environmental policy. As with a QMS, Internal Audits of the EMS should be conducted routinely to ensure that non-conformances in the system are identified and addressed. In addition, the management review process must be in place to ensure top management's involvement in the assessment of EMS.