by Michael L. Walker, PECEM, LEED-AP
Vice President, Energy and Environmental Services

ISO 14001 is a widely recognized environmental management standard that provides a framework for organizations to manage and reduce their environmental impacts. By implementing ISO 14001, organizations can establish an environmental management system (EMS) to improve their sustainability performance.

Here are some ways that organizations can use ISO 14001 to drive sustainability:

Identify and Prioritize Environmental Risks and Opportunities
By conducting an environmental risk assessment, organizations can identify areas where they can reduce their environmental impacts and improve sustainability. This assessment can help organizations prioritize their efforts and focus on the most significant environmental risks and opportunities.

Set Sustainability Goals and Targets
ISO 14001 requires organizations to set environmental objectives and targets. By setting sustainability goals, organizations can track their progress and ensure that they are continually improving their sustainability performance.

Monitor and Measure Sustainability Performance
ISO 14001 requires organizations to monitor and measure their environmental performance regularly. This monitoring can help organizations identify areas where they can improve and track progress towards their sustainability goals.

Engage Stakeholders
ISO 14001 requires organizations to engage with stakeholders, including employees, customers and suppliers. This engagement can help organizations identify sustainability issues and opportunities as well as build support for sustainability initiatives.

Continually Improve Sustainability Performance
ISO 14001 is a continual improvement framework, meaning that organizations must continually review and improve their environmental management system. This continual improvement can help organizations identify new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts and improve sustainability.

Obviously, the degree to which an ISO 14001 program really impacts sustainability is related to the time spent maintaining and implementing the program. Our experience shows that when there is active involvement and participation in an ISO 14001 program, each of the above concepts are fulfilled.  Risks and opportunities are clearly identified, which leads to the development of actual goals and targets and supports the identification of meaningful metrics. Furthermore, an active ISO 14001 program, by rule, will engage leadership and interested parties and really drive continual improvement.

How We Can Help
The EI Group, Inc. (EI) has been providing sustainability services for more than 15 years including ISO 14001 and 50001 auditing and consulting, water conservation studies, ESG reporting, zero waste studies, and others. Should you have environmental questions or concerns, please contact Mike Walker, PE, Vice President of  Energy and Environmental Services, at (919) 459-5245 or [email protected].