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Environmental Standards

Author: Dr Irene Gardiner - NOSA/NQA-Africa

( Article Type: Explanation )

Conforming to environmental legislation and meeting the demands of the green lobby present major challenges to organisations today. Environmental issues have come to the forefront in recent years with greater awareness amongst legislators, financiers, shareholders, customers, employees and neighbours. The international community is looking at ways of reducing the impact on the environment to ensure it is protected for future generations.

In a climate of increased media and public scrutiny, organizations of all sizes are looking to formal management systems as a framework for improving performance. The ISO 14000 family of standards includes most notably the ISO 14001 standard, which is now the most widely used environmental management standard in the world.

ISO 14001 - provides a set of requirements used by organizations for implementing effective environmental management systems. Other standards (some still in draft*) included in this series are: 

ISO 14004 - complements ISO 14001 by providing additional guidance and useful explanations. 

ISO 14005* - provides guidelines for the phased implementation of an EMS in small and medium sized organizations. 

ISO 14020 - this series of standards addresses a range of different approaches to environmental labels and declarations, including eco-labels, self-declared environmental claims, and quantifies environmental information about products and services.

ISO 14033* - provides guidelines and examples for complying and communicating quantitative environmental information.

ISO 14040 standards – provide guidelines on the principles and conduct of Life-cycle Assessment studies.

ISO 14051* - provides guidelines for general principles and framework of material flow cost accounting.

ISO 14063 – provides environmental communication guidelines and examples.

ISO 14064 (parts 1, 2 and 3) and ISO 14065 – deal with greenhouse gas accounting and verification. 

ISO 14066* - specifies competency requirements for greenhouse gas validators and verifiers. 

ISO 14067* - provides requirements for the quantification and communication of greenhouse gases associated with products.

ISO 14069* - provides guidance for organizations to calculate the carbon footprint of their products, services and supply chain.

ISO 19011 is an international standard which offers an explanation of the principles of management systems auditing, a guidance on the management of audit programmes and on the conduct of internal or external audits, and advice on the competence and evaluation of auditors.

One should also mention the EN 16001 standard, which was issued by the European Committee for Standardization, and which represents the latest best practice in energy management. It is based on existing national standards and initiatives. The standard enables an organization to develop and implement a policy, identify significant areas of energy consumption and target energy reductions.