Introduction to ISO 14001 2015

Plain English introduction to the NEW Environmental Management Standard.


ISO 14001 2015 is an environmental management standard.
It defines a set of environmental management requirements.
These requirements can be found in the following sections:

  1. Context
  2. Leadership
  3. Planning
  4. Support
  5. Operations
  6. Evaluation
  7. Improvement

ISO 14001 was first published in 1996 and updated in 2004. This
third edition was published in September of 2015. It cancels and
replaces all previous editions.

The purpose of this standard is to help organizations to protect the
environment and to respond to changing environmental conditions.
According to ISO 14001, any organization can achieve these goals
if it establishes an environmental management system (EMS) and
if it continually tries to improve the suitability, adequacy, and
effectiveness of this system.


ISO 14001 applies to all types of organizations. It doesn't matter
what they do or what size they are. It can help any organization
to protect the environment and to respond to changing
environmental conditions.

According to ISO 14001 2015, your organization's EMS must meet
every requirement if you wish to claim that it complies with this
standard. However, how you choose to meet ISO's requirements will
depend on and be influenced by many factors. It will depend on
your organizationís context, its structure, its activities, its objectives,
its compliance obligations, and its products and services; and will
be influenced by its risks and opportunities and by its environmental
aspects and impacts. Consequently, environmental management
systems can vary quite a bit.


If you don't already have an environmental management system
(EMS), you can use this ISO 14001 standard to establish one.
And once you've established your EMS, you can use it:

According to ISO 14001, any organization can achieve these
goals by establishing an EMS and then using it to manage the
environmental aspects and impacts of its activities, processes,
products, services, and systems.


According to ISO 14001, an EMS will enhance your organization's
environmental performance because it will:

  • Reduce your environmental risks.
  • Implement your environmental policy.
  • Achieve your environmental objectives.
  • Meet your environmental compliance obligations.
  • Take advantage of your environmental opportunities.


You can also use an EMS to support sustainable development.
Why? Because an EMS will show you how to take a systematic
approach to environmental management. Such an approach will
not only contribute to your organization's long term success but
it will also support sustainable development. It will do all of this
by helping your organization to:

  • Prevent or reduce adverse environmental impacts.
  • Implement environmentally sound practices and programs.
  • Coordinate environmental initiatives with interested parties.
  • Control how products are managed throughout their life cycle.
  • Mitigate the adverse impact that environmental threats can have.


You can also use this standard to get certified. Once youíve
established an EMS that meets ISO's requirements and deals
with your organizationís own risks and requirements, you can
ask a registrar (certification body) to audit your system. If you
pass the audit, your registrar will issue an official certificate that
states that your organization's EMS meets ISO's requirements.

While ISO 14001 2015 is designed to be used for certification
purposes, you donít have to become certified. You can be
in compliance without being formally certified by an accredited
certification body (registrar). You can self-audit your EMS and
then announce to the world that it complies with the ISO 14001
standard (assuming that it does). Of course, your compliance
claim may have more credibility if an independent certification
body agrees with your assessment

MORE ISO 14001 2015 PAGES

Outline of ISO 14001 2015 Standard

Overview of ISO 14001 2015 Standard

ISO 14001 2015 versus ISO 14001 2004

Plain English ISO 14001 2015 Definitions

ISO 14001 2015 Translated into Plain English

Environmental Management Gap Analysis Tool

Plain English Environmental Management Checklist

Skills Environmental Management Auditors Must Have

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Updated on April 18, 2021. First published on January 11, 2015.

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