ISO 14001:2015: Pathway to a Successful Upgrade

EM—A look at key changes in the ISO 14001:2015 Standard, including strategies for improving environmental management systems (EMSs) and integrating with other business systems to gain more value.

by Robert Basl

2018 marks an important year for companies who have adopted an environmental management system (EMS) that conforms to the ISO 14001 Standard. While ISO 14001 has existed for more than 20 years, the changes adopted by the International Organization of Standards in 2015 are the most sweeping since the standard's inception. Organizations certified to the former version must incorporate the new requirements by September 15, 2018.

The articles that follow examine key changes in the ISO 14001:2015 Standard, providing organizations with keen insight in order to navigate these changes and successfully improve their systems.

In the first article, Kelly Young, Greg Roberts, and Betty Hosteny provide a high-level overview of the key changes in the revised standard. This summary informs interested readers on where the emphasis should be placed as they work to make changes to their systems in advance of the September deadline.

Next, Christopher Bell clarifies important new terminology and offers a comparison between common elements of the previous and revised standard. Readers actively involved in retooling EMS documents and procedures will find this roadmap particularly useful.

Organizations looking for ways to inject new life into a mature EMS or to integrate environmental management with existing quality management systems may find special value in my article on implementing the “process approach”. This departure from the traditional clause-based system allows a company to infuse environmental awareness into areas of the organization they may not have historically considered while decentralizing ownership of environmental issues.

Finally, Anthony Mineo describes in great detail the logistics associated with obtaining a multi-site certification to ISO 14001:2015. Specific attention to the cost structure and potential savings will be helpful for larger organizations and those with certified integrated environment, health, and safety management systems.