With so much focus, and rightly so, on net zero and decarbonization, it can be difficult to know where to start to reduce the environmental impact of operations beyond the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency. .
For example, how do you know where to start to quantify, manage and minimize other direct and indirect environmental impacts? How do you ensure legal compliance with the vast array of existing and new legislation? This is where an environmental management system certified to ISO 14001 can be of great benefit.
What is ISO 14001?
This internationally recognized standard defines the requirements that an organization can use to improve its environmental performance, manage environmental risks and take advantage of opportunities identified during the implementation process.
Environmental objectives and improvement targets are defined, with the processes put in place to achieve these objectives. ISO 14001 recognizes that in order for objectives to be achieved, there must be commitment within an organization, and particularly from senior management who control physical and financial resources. Therefore, it is an essential requirement of the standard to have management buy-in and to be able to demonstrate this during an audit.
What is the scope of ISO 14001?
ISO 14001 can be extended to meet different needs and requirements. Owners can choose to use one system only to address property management issues, while occupiers and investors can choose it to frame their entire corporate approach to environmental management.
What are the advantages for real estate?
The ISO 14001 standard is widely recognized by investors, asset managers, property managers and occupiers as a key indicator of commitment to addressing environmental impacts. It is frequently requested by occupants when choosing a new property and by potential customers wishing to have an organization’s environmental credentials validated.
For owners and occupants, reaching the standard has many advantages:
- Improved operational efficiency through enhanced monitoring and consequent reductions in energy and water consumption and waste volumes, which can yield significant financial benefits.
- Compliance Guaranteewith environmental legislation with reduced risk of incidents, fines and reputational damage through proactive environmental management.
- Improved engagement with senior management, staff, contractors and occupants on environmental issues.
- A frame to protect the environment and respond to changing environmental conditions.
- Apply a continuous improvement model in managing a property’s environmental risks and performance ensures that relevant issues and opportunities for change are always on the agenda, reducing the threat of obsolescence.
- Improved marketing due to improved environmental credentials.
What is the process for obtaining certification?
Demonstration of senior management commitment and leadership, eg political commitment, environmental target setting.
Assessment of significant environmental impacts.
Establishment of procedures, processes, operational controls and contingency procedures to manage risk and performance.
Internal and external communication and training
Evaluation of results, such as performance reports, internal audits (at least once a year).
Commitment to the continuous improvement cycle.
External audit and verification. The certification has a duration of three years, subject to annual surveillance audits.
Ultimately, by adopting ISO 14001, the journey to net zero and reducing our environmental footprint should become a little easier because we will know exactly what we need to do to get there.
Contact Lydia Burdett
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