ISO 14001:2015

Organisation(s) involved:

Oxford City Council

Overview:

Exploring the viability of the new ISO 14001 standard for an office based work area

Background:

Environmental Sustainability at Oxford City Council saw the release for the 2015 revision of 14001 as an opportunity to explore what formal Environmental Management had to offer in working towards carbon and environmental impact reduction. We used our own service area as a test environment as a test bed for the wider council and set ourselves the task of gaining accreditation to the new standard. Our service area does not engage in the traditional areas that an EMS would cover such as construction and manufacturing but we felt that we would be able to demonstrate that any organisation might benefit from an EMS with the right approach.  In addition to realising the environmental benefits of an EMS we also set out to formalise some eco credentials about how we operate demonstrating to any potential customers that we always work towards best practice.

Solution:

Scope out and implement ISO 14001:2015 for our Environmental Sustainability team.

Outcomes and benefits delivered:

Some obvious benefits to our team have been realised through some modest reductions to our energy use, water use and overall carbon footprint. Beyond those outcomes we have seem some unexpected benefits which have mostly been derived from involving all the ES staff in the ISO 14001 process. The team are now enjoying an increased awareness of the teams environmental impact and we have since had some great critical discussions around our EMS and how we can do things better. This awareness and integration of the EMS into the day to day activities of the team has become one of the systems biggest benefits and will hopefully see the ES continually improving our environmental impacts for years to come.

Lessons learned/conclusion:

The entire ISO 14001:2015 experience has been a huge learning experience for our team. There were many challenges along the way but ISO 14001 has been a worthwhile experience for us all and has even inspired us to widen our scope and turn our new skills towards another ISO standard in energy management (ISO 50001).

Some of the key learning points have been;

  • Understanding and measuring our environmental impact
  • How to formalise and set measurable objectives to reduce our impact
  • How to involve our entire team in the process so that they contribute in a meaningful way and work towards continued improvement.
  • How to provide a framework to make environmental impact reduction an every day activity with minimal effect to staff.

Link to further information online:

ISO 14001:2015

Contact for further information:

N. Kirwan

nkirwan@oxford.gov.uk

 

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