Understanding ISO 14001

Companies concerned about the environment are no doubt, already acting on sound and responsible environmental practices. An ISO 14001 project can formalize these practices into a more manageable framework.

So you may wonder:

  • What is ISO 14001?
  • How does ISO 14001 relate to your company’s policy and objectives, and integrate with the current business system?
  • What are environmental aspects and employee responsibilities?
  • What are the benefits of ISO 14001?

What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is an international standard that is a benchmark of industry Environmental Management System (EMS) “good practices” and the framework for a company’s EMS. The EMS is the combination of people, policies, procedures, review, and plans to address environmental aspects and regulations.

Companies set an Environmental Policy and Objectives which may include:

  • Environmental compliance
  • Prevention of pollution
  • Minimization of environmental impacts of processes and activities
  • And of course, Environmental Management System improvement

How AEM Consulting Can Help


ISO 14001An important component of an ISO 14001 implementation project is to integrate with any existing Quality Management System, i.e. ISO 9001, ISO 13485, AS9100, TS 16949.

This way ISO 14001 is part of the company’s overall management system including and sharing organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, processes, resources and review. For our AEM Consulting clients this QMS / EMS overlap (QEMS) provided a 50% reduction in requirements.

Environmental Aspects / Impacts

One of the main tasks of the project is to determine elements of operations that could potentially interact with the environment: air, water, and ground. This becomes a list of environmental aspects (cause) and the corresponding impacts (effect).

An impact is any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial. Aspects are derived from local, state, and federal regulations as well as the company’s needs. Significant aspects are determined, and subjected to rigorous control.

At AEM Consulting, we used the Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) with our clients as a framework for this process to rate aspects. Continue by thinking of things your company is currently or can be doing over and above local, state and federal regulation, such as: recycling batteries or printer cartridges, replacing fluorescence bulbs with green ones and collecting and paying for disposal of used ones, recycling pallets and cardboard, being more energy and waste efficient.

Employee Responsibilities:

  1. Understand and comply with the Environmental Policy
  2. Understand environmental aspects and impacts, and how they may be affected by you
  3. Know where required documents are located (for example; MSDS’s, evacuation plans, emergency numbers, bulletin board postings, etc.)
  4. Integrate environmental considerations into daily work activities
  5. Use pollution prevention techniques:
  6. Good housekeeping and maintenance practices
  7. Spill prevention and preparedness

Benefits of an Environmental Management System

By being environmentally conscious with a comprehensive environmental quality policy and objectives, a company:

  1. Maintains environmental compliance
  2. Reduces operating costs
  3. Integrates environmental programs (also consider integrating existing environmental health and safety, EH & S)
  4. Increases employee awareness and involvement
  5. Reduces environmental impact

ISO 14001 also provides an internationally recognized credential. Even if customers are not requiring it, with certification companies can tout and showcase their green consciousness.

By AEM Consulting Group, Inc.