Life cycle factors gain in revised benchmark environmental standard

Sources: International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Geneva; CP staff

A new version of a global standard behind 300,000 certifications annually, including parties developing Product Category Rules (PCR) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) backing green building rating measures, places increased emphasis on life-cycle thinking, considering each stage of a product or service, cradle to grave. ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems likewise addresses users’ recognition of the need to factor both external and internal elements that influence their impact, including climate volatility, plus proactive initiatives for greater environmental protection.

Nearing 20 years in existence, ISO 14001 has helped users manage their environmental issues in a holistic manner, notes ISO/TX 207/SC1 Committee Chair Anne-Marie Warris. “The new version will help with a stronger integration between environmental issues and an organization’s strategic action planning and thinking,” she says. “I foresee the life-cycle perspective and supply chain issues embedded in ISO 14001 becoming stronger.”

ISO 14001:2015 reflects many changes in technology and what stakeholders expect of organizations, adds ISO Acting Secretary-General Kevin McKinley, noting: “It is also a competitive advantage. Organizations can use [the standard] to distinguish themselves from their competition, and in many cases provid[e] financial advantage, helping organizations to realize efficiencies and improve performance.”

One of the most widely used documents of its kind across the globe, ISO 14001 sets out the requirements for an environmental management system, and serves as a key business tool for many organizations. Within the architectural, engineering and construction profession, it establishes guidelines reflected in PCR and EPD, each becoming more prominent in specifications as the LEED v4 green building rating system unfolds throughout commercial and residential work.

ISO 14001:2015 is the culmination of contributions from 121 ISO/TC 207/SC1 for Environmental Development Committee members, hailing from 88 countries and led by the British Standards Institute, ISO’s United Kingdom member. The document is available from the bookstore of American National Standards Institute, ISO’s North American member.