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ISO 14001:2015 – Environmental management systems

ISO 14000 family – Environmental management

The ISO 14000 family of standards provides practical tools for companies and organizations of all kinds looking to manage their environmental responsibilities.

ISO 14001:2015 and its supporting standards such as ISO 14006:2011 focus on environmental systems to achieve this. The other standards in the family focus on specific approaches such as audits, communications, labelling and life cycle analysis, as well as environmental challenges such as climate change.

The ISO 14000 family of standards are developed by ISO Technical Committee ISO/TC 207 and its various subcommittees. For a full list of published standards in the series see their standards catalogue .

ISO 14001:2015

ISO 14001:2015 specifies the requirements for an environmental management system that an organization can use to enhance its environmental performance. ISO 14001:2015 is intended for use by an organization seeking to manage its environmental responsibilities in a systematic manner that contributes to the environmental pillar of sustainability.

ISO 14001:2015 helps an organization achieve the intended outcomes of its environmental management system, which provide value for the environment, the organization itself and interested parties. Consistent with the organization’s environmental policy, the intended outcomes of an environmental management system include:

· enhancement of environmental performance;

· fulfilment of compliance obligations;

· achievement of environmental objectives.

ISO 14001:2015 is applicable to any organization, regardless of size, type and nature, and applies to the environmental aspects of its activities, products and services that the organization determines it can either control or influence considering a life cycle perspective. ISO 14001:2015 does not state specific environmental performance criteria.

ISO 14001:2015 can be used in whole or in part to systematically improve environmental management. Claims of conformity to ISO 14001:2015, however, are not acceptable unless all its requirements are incorporated into an organization’s environmental management system and fulfilled without exclusion.

Who should use the ISO 14001:2015 revision?

ISO 14001:2015 should be used by any organization that wishes to set up, improve, or maintain an environmental management system to conform with its established environmental policy and requirements. The requirements of the standard can be incorporated into any environmental management system, the extent to which is determined by several factors including the organization’s industry, environmental policy, products and service offerings, and location.

ISO 14001:2015 is relevant to all organizations, regardless of size, location, sector, or industry.


What topics does ISO 14001:2015 cover?

At the highest level, ISO 14001:2015 covers the following topics with regard to environmental management systems:

  •     Context of the organization
  •     Leadership
  •     Planning
  •     Support
  •     Operation
  •     Performance evaluation
  •     Improvement

ISO 14001:2015 Revisions – 14001:2004 vs. 14001:2015

The 2015 revision of ISO 14001 introduces a number of changes from previous versions. A detailed explanation of the changes can be found in this ISO 14001 presentation (PDF), available in the online library of the ASQ Energy and Environmental Division. Thea Dunmire of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to the committee working on the standard presented this update in 2014, discussing the expected impacts of the new revision’s requirements.

According to Dunmire, as part of the effort to structure all ISO standards in the same way, the revisions introduced in the 2015 version of ISO 14001 include incorporating a required high-level structure, using mandatory definitions, and incorporating common standards requirements and clauses.

Dunmire further identifies 10 major areas of impact of the 2015 revision:

    Expansion in EMS coverage and scope
    Required interactions with external parties
    New requirements for leadership engagement
    Expanded legal compliance requirements
    Need for risk-based planning and controls
    New documentation requirements
    Expanded operational control requirements
    Changes in competence and awareness requirements
    Impacts on the internal audit program
    Increased certification costs



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