ISO14001 is the most widely used Environmental Management System (EMS) standard. While still undergoing revisions, a revised version of the standard is expected to go into effect in early 2015. The changes follow a trend among many other standards to require more focus on quantitative data, adaptation, and top management involvement. The standard is also being conformed to the so-called "High Level Structure" (HLS), a uniform structure that ISO is applying to all of its management systems. HLS is intended to facilitate implementation and improve integration among various management systems.

Existing ISO 14001 certified EMS’s will need to be updated to conform to the new standard during an expected transition phase of three years. Some of the specific highlights expected for the new standard are requirements relating to:

  • Senior management leadership in implementation
  • Actual improvement of environmental performance (not improvement of the EMS)
  • Quantitative data and creating positive impacts, not just reducing negative impacts
  • Stakeholder inclusion
  • Demonstrating contextual awareness of environmental issues and regulations
  • Extended assessment of product or service environmental impacts (full life cycle, upstream and downstream)
  • Increased emphasis on cause and effect analysis

For a full information sheet on the proposed changes, click here.