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Environmental management systems need leadership

For environmental management systems to provide long-term and consistent benefits to organizations, they need to have strong leadership.

Leadership is needed from the very top of the organization, preferably from more than one sponsor. Objectives agreed at the highest level of the organization are more likely to support organizational strategy, and required resources are more likely to be made available.

It is not a coincidence that the ISO 14001:2015 standard requires integration with organizational strategy and greater leadership from top management; without it, environmental management systems often falter.

The other level at which leadership is critical is in the establishment, implementation and maintenance of the environmental management system. If you don’t have more than one person who understands and can access and update the system, you risk the system failing when that person is no longer available to keep it going.

In the last ten days alone, I have seen three cases of environmental management systems faltering, and even beginning to fail, because of one of these two leadership issues.

Quest for Future Solutions conducts directors’ briefings and supports organizations to help them gain ongoing value from their environmental and energy management systems – contact Julia on 07904 389889 to talk about how we can help your organization.

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Hidden context

The transition to ISO 14001:2015 is now progressing at a pace, and patterns of conformity – and nonconformity – are beginning to emerge. One of the most obvious so far is how clause 4.1 ‘Understanding the organization and its context’ appears to be wearing an invisibility cloak. It’s a small paragraph, only 3 lines long; it looks like pre-amble, but it’s not. In fact, it’s one of the key benefits of the new standard and provides a foundation stone to the whole environmental management system.

This clause is about understanding what issues might impact on the organization’s ability to improve its environmental performance. Once the issues have been identified, the risks and opportunities associated with them can also be identified, and used to set objectives and operational controls.

Issues can be internal as well as external, and section A.4.1 in the annex gives some useful examples.

One tool to use to identify relevant issues is PESTLE:

  • Political issues
  • Economic issues
  • Social issues
  • Technological issues
  • Legal issues
  • Environmental issues

Another is consideration of ‘megatrends’. Check out PWC’s list of megatrends for starters.

Remember to link these issues back to environmental management. For example, an ageing population (social issue & megatrend) might mean that you need to change the structure of your buildings to improve accessibility. The process of project design and management will need to be managed to consider environmental impacts.

Quest can support you through the transition to ISO 14001:2015, including identification of relevant issues, risks and opportunities. Call Julia today on 07904 389889 to discuss your requirements.

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Bring your ESOS audit to life with an energy management system

If you work for a large enterprise, then it’s probably been a few months now since you received your ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) audit report. If you’ve found it really useful and you’re powering ahead with energy saving schemes, that’s fantastic.

Unfortunately, I suspect that for many organizations, this is not the case.

Either way, you can make your report work better for you.

An energy management system based on ISO 50001 would really bring your ESOS audit to life. The ESOS audit provides a lot of valuable background information; the energy management system provides a framework for action. Together, they can be an incredibly powerful tool.

I audited a lot of ISO 50001 energy management systems in the run up to the December ESOS deadline. Every single client I saw had an ‘aha’ moment at some point during the process, when they found or worked something out that was of real value to them. I have yet to speak to a client who has had a similar experience with their ESOS audit on its own.

And, as expected, those organizations that chose to have ESOS audits done last year are beginning to talk to us about setting up an energy management system to give them a framework for action.

So, what are you going to do now? Let your ESOS report gather dust, or take action and make a real difference to your organization?

We can help – call Julia on 07904 389889 to discuss options.

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Are you a fan of your management system?

Here at Quest for Future Solutions, we’re fans of management systems. ISO certified management systems are designed to make organizations work better, improve your performance and help you to achieve your organizational aims.

So why do we so often see people and organizations who are not fans of their own management systems; who find them burdensome, or just ignore them until a few days before their audit?

Every single clause of the standards is designed to support your organization. If the way in which you are meeting the requirements of that clause isn’t adding value for you, then think about what that clause is trying to achieve and how you could meet the requirements in a meaningful and useful way.

For example, we often see organizations for whom the management review process is a box-ticking exercise to cover all of the requirements listed in whichever standard they are working to. This is a very expensive waste of top management time! The management review clause is included in the standards to give you a chance to stand back from everyday management system operations and consider whether the system is working well for you, what changes there have been either inside or outside the organization that might mean that you need to change what you are doing, what your priorities are for the coming period and how you are going to resource them. If done well, it is an excellent use of top management time.

If your management system isn’t an effective tool in helping you to achieve your organizational aims, then you need to take action to improve it. If you need a hand, call us to talk about our troubleshooting service. We will be able to help you become a fan of your system.

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