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According to the International Standards Organization (ISO), the 2015 revision of the ISO 14001 standard is designed to “improve environmental performance.”

In addition to the reorganization of the standard to be consistent with Annex SL, the key “improvements” are:

  • Environmental management to be more prominent within the organization’s strategic direction
  • A greater commitment from leadership
  • The implementation of proactive initiatives to protect the environment from harm and degradation, such as sustainable resource use and climate change mitigation
  • A focus on life-cycle thinking to ensure consideration of environmental aspects from development to end-of-life
  • The addition of a stakeholder-focused communication strategy

The transition period will last three years, meaning that you can become certified or have surveillance audits according to the old version until September 15, 2018. If you get your certificate according to the 2004 revision after September 15, 2015, you will have three years to transition to the new version.

However, according to one source, some of the biggest certification bodies announced that they will stop issuing new certificates according to the old version by September 2016.

A number of resources are available to support transition to the new standard and ISO offers the following tips:

  • Tip 1 – Define your objectives. What do you want to achieve with this standard?
  • Tip 2 – Get the buy-in from senior management. It is essential that the leaders of your organization support the objectives of an effective environmental management system and are committed to the process.
  • Tip 3 – Get a good overview of existing processes and systems that are relevant to your environmental impact. This will form the basis of your environmental management system and allow you to more easily identify any gaps.

EI professionals are trained in ISO 14001 (both 2004 and 2015 standards) as well as other management systems to support your efforts to transition your environmental management system or develop a new one from scratch. Let us help you with gap analysis, program review or development or compliance audits.