The next edition of ISO 14001 will look significantly different from the current standard, after the group working on its revision voted to adopt a new structure designed to improve the integration of management systems.
At the first meeting to discuss how the international environment management standard will be revised, it was agreed the new version of 14001, likely to be published in 2015, should be written in accordance with the International Organisation for Standardisation’s (ISO) recently launched high-level structure for management systems standards.
The new format is the result of ISO’s long-standing attempts to develop a harmonised, common framework for all its management system standards, which include ISO 9001 on quality management systems and ISO 27001 on IT security, for example, alongside 14001. The aim of the structure is to help organisations align and integrate their various systems more easily.
Martin Baxter, IEMA’s director of policy and the UK’s nationally appointed expert to the working group, said that IEMA members were strongly supportive of the new structure, which they believe will help to highlight the importance of managing environmental impacts. "The new structure has elements that will elevate the status of environment management to a more strategic level, while retaining the operational strength that ISO 14001 has typically been built around," he said.
"It will help organisations to better integrate environment management into the core parts of their business, rather than being treated as an isolated bolt-on."
Lesley Wilson, committee manager, sustainability at BSI, which is working alongside ISO on the revision, admitted that changing the standard’s structure was not going to be easy, but was the best outcome for those using 14001.
"Merging the revised text with the new structure will be challenging, but this common approach will increase the value of management system standards to users, particularly those that choose to operate an integrated management system," she said.
Alongside a new structure, the revision aims to strengthen 14001’s requirements for transparency and accountability, clarify environment management’s role in sustainable development and help firms to consider the environment’s impacts on businesses.
"With our more than 250,000 users in 155 countries worldwide, and with the new version of 14001 likely to be in use well into the mid-2020’s, it is essential to develop a standard that enables organisations to meet future environmental challenges, rather than simply trying to solve existing problems," said Baxter.
Confirmation of the new look 14001 came as Manchester United announced that it had achieved certification against the standard, making it the first football club in England to do so.
United, which was among the 22 organisations ranked at the top of the first Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency scheme league table last year, is aiming to ensure its ground, Old Trafford, is the first major sporting stadium in the UK to hold certificates to 14001, the Carbon Trust Standard and ISO 20121, the sustainable events standard due to be published later this year.