ISO 50001 Standard Published Reply

You can now manage your energy conservation program or lower your greenhouse gas emissions by using a new international standard, ISO 50001.  This new ISO Management System Standard for Energy has all of the same “plan-do-check-act” provisions of the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System. 

To save on the cost required to implement and certify a new management system, some companies are choosing to instead integrate the key energy management features of the ISO 50001 standard into their existing ISO 14001 or ISO 9001 management systems. Also, if a customer is not requiring certification to this standard, companies can use the integration option to achieve certification to ISO 14001 while seeking “verification” of the use of the energy management components.  It is also possible to self-certify to the ISO 50001 standard through this integration option. 

Should you choose to implement or integrate the new ISO 50001 Energy Management System Standard, CAPACCIO can help you make decisions on the options you have regarding the use of this new international energy management standard and guide you through the process.

For more information, contact Wayne Bates at 508.970-0033 ext. 121 or wbates@capaccio.com.

Conducting a Sustainability Assessment Reply

Every business has a number of sustainability practices already in place.  Because the practices are spread across many operating functions, it may be difficult to identify all of them.  We often compare this to the tiles in a game of “Scrabble.”  You find the sustainability practices that you have in place, and then you strive to make sense with them.  In Scrabble, you select the tiles and then arrange them on a board to make words.  You link the words to other words to score more points.  Your sustainability program activities need to be ordered similarly in a transparent way to contribute value to your organization. 

Instead of the Scrabble board, you could use an integrated management system to help organize your sustainability effort.  With the introduction of ISO 26000 (social responsibility standard), it is easier than ever to integrate all three responsibilities (environmental stewardship, social well being and economic prosperity) into a single program.  This new guidance provides some of the program elements that need to be searched for within the scope of a sustainability assessment. 

CAPACCIO uses a pre-visit questionnaire to help an organization locate the sources of information, in order to determine activities and processes that address each of these responsibilities.  By conducting a site visit, it is possible to get a good picture of the current state of the sustainability program.  The components of an integrated management system help to identify the gaps in the program.  Sometimes there are not any gaps at all.  This information just resides in different functions in the company and the activities just have not been communicated internally.  The integrated management system provides a framework for both internal and external communications.  It also inventories the environmental, social and economic elements that should be captured in this program.

It is very important to have a complete sustainability baseline before attempting to benchmark the program with competitors and customers.  We always find more program elements than are captured in the pre-visit questionnaire.  This is why it is prudent to have a different set of eyes involved in the sustainability assessment.  You need someone that can communicate with all of the functional managers involved in the efforts.  There is no “one-size-fits-all” list to use for the interviews.  An experienced sustainability assessor will often find pertinent activities that are not on the “checklist.”

Once you begin to see the sustainability activities, you can form teams to link them just as you do in a game of Scrabble.  By increasing the value of sustainability to the organization, there will be a drive to fill the gaps and create yet more links.  It is now possible to create a “roadmap” to improve the program and getting more people involved.  All this – thanks to ISO 26000 guidance.

 

New ISO Handbook/CD Package Unveils ISO 14001 for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises 2

As more companies begin to track environmental issues through the supply chain, there is a growing need to address environmental management at small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  The automotive industry required its supply chain to certify to ISO 14001, however, other industries are not quick to follow suit even though ISO 14001 certification now stands at nearly 250,000 companies in 2009 – an increase of 18% over the previous year. 

ISO has issued a handbook and CD designed in the form of a checklist to guide the SME in asking and answering a series of questions regarding the environmental activities of their organization.  The checklist is in 16 parts.  Each part covers a particular ISO 14001 requirement and begins with an explanation of the requirement as well as guidance on how to incorporate this guidance into an EMS that meets the needs of the organization and, perhaps, its customer.  The CD provides the convenience of electronic navigation through the requirements and enables responses to each question to be saved and then printed in pdf format.  This could provide evidence to the customer that there has been progress in implementing an EMS.

It is well known that companies have improved their operations and reduced the impact of their activities, processes, products, and services on the environment by using a systematic approach that seeks continual improvement. The benefits of addressing environmental issues, however,  not only cover protection of the environment, but are also linked to business performance and profitability while improving the company’s image, enhancing access to export markets, providing a common reference for communicating environmental issues with customers, regulators, the public and a host of other stakeholders.  So, what’s not to like!

SMEs are afraid of the cost associated with implementing an ISO 14001 program.  Even while there is an eventual payback associated with the efforts, there will be a considerable amount of up-front money.  They know that they will have to purchase the standard and make a lot of changes in how they operate.  Believing that one has to be certified in order to get credit for using ISO 14001 keeps many companies from considering this important standard.  They only need to certify if a customer requires certification.  Using a checklist could be of value even if the ultimate aim is not third-party certification of the standard.  To order this checklist, you can go to the ISO website:  http://www.iso.org/iso/publications_and_e-products/checklists.htm#PUB100268 

 Some companies are taking a more direct approach with the SMEs in their supply chain.  A consulting firm is hired to perform a gap assessment at each facility in the first tier.  The suppliers will realize that they are already doing many of the things that are required for an ISO 14001-conforming EMS.  It might be easier for them to use the recommendations for improvement to assemble a sound EMS.  In time, the SME will have a viable EMS in place.  At that time, they can decide to use ISO 14001 to check their own system for conformance.  The customer can have a “second party audit” performed to help the SME further improve its program.  All of this can be accomplished without ever seeking third party certification. 

There are a number of internet resources available to SMEs when their customer does not get directly involved as described above.  No matter what the motivation, SMEs can gain some significant recognition from their customers by paying attention to their EMS.

Energy Management System Standards Reply

For those of you who are still eagerly awaiting the release of  the ISO 50001 energy management system standard (due to be released early next year), there is a British Standard, BS EN 16001, that can be used now.  This British energy management system standard has been a key priority for European delegates contributing to the development of the ISO standard in the much slower international standards setting arena.  These delegates are working closely with ISO to make sure there will be no disincentive for the early adopters of EN 16001 when ISO 50001 is released.  The use of this standard is also providing some information to those writing the ISO 50001 standard. 

The aim of this European standard is to help organizations establish the systems and processes necessary to improve energy performance and make reductions in both cost and emissions of greenhouse gases.  Launched in July 2009, this standard effectively presents a business with a roadmap of the various steps to be taken to ensure it is viewed as being serious about energy management.  The promotion of the standard notes that the combination of energy reduction and risk management is more financially advantageous than merely buying additional carbon credits or offsets to lower the carbon emissions that are reported to the public. 

The standard helps businesses ask the right questions of themselves and adjust their internal processes and decision-making accordingly.  These businesses use the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) framework to establish objectives and processes, implement some changes, monitor their results and finally act again to deliver incremental improvements in performance over time.  Some companies in the UK are required to certify to this standard because of the “Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme” that was launched in April 2010 to support attempts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Climate Change Act of 2008.  There are similar requirements in the European Union.

To keep up to the demand in the United States, the US Department of Energy is making draft copies of ISO 50001 available to certain technical assistance providers to use for their own energy conservation programs.  However, no climate change legislation has been enacted in the United States.  A company can purchase a draft of ISO 50001 and use it while the final standard is being subject to its final international ballot.  You do not need to be involved in these Department of Energy projects to do so.

It is important to note that the “aspects” determination in ISO 14001 was designed for looking at all resources:  water, energy and materials.  Energy is very important to all companies and their stakeholders.  Unless you find that you need to certify to an energy management standard, you may be better off looking at both the BS EN 16001 and the draft ISO 50001 and using the information to strengthen your existing ISO 14001 program.