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Making the transition to ISO 14001:2015

Kris Karslake Kris Karslake 22 Feb 2016

Since attending ‘Making the Transition to ISO14001:2015’ training course, I like many other environmental managers, have realised that we need to shake things up if our businesses are to keep hold of their Environmental Management System certificates. Making the transition to 2015 standards means thinking about sustainability from the outset, not just fitting it into current processes.

One technique for facilitating this change is to make people dissatisfied (D) with the current situation, provide a positive vision (V) of what is possible and offer some simple first (F) steps in order to achieve the vision. D, V and F are multiplying factors, therefore all need to be addressed to overcome resistance. 


Creating dissatisfaction with the status quo (D)

We continue to consume electricity, and rely on it to do our work – even though there’s not enough to go around. In November 2015, businesses were paid to cut electricity usage because the National Grid could not supply enough to meet demand. How will our businesses operate without a reliable supply in the future? At our current rate of production, it’s estimated that we’ll run out of landfill space within seven years. Our industry tends to be a pretty good sector for diverting waste from landfill as most of our materials are reusable. But what will we do with composite materials currently being installed in buildings that aren’t readily recyclable? According to the US National Center for Policy Analysis, China controls about 95% of global rare earth materials that are used in electronics. What will we do as a country if China decides to tighten its grip on the supply, causing material prices to escalate? 

It’s estimated that we’ll run out of landfill space within seven years   


Providing a positive vision (V)

Placing less demand on grid-supply electricity, disposing of less waste to landfill and increasing recycling of rare and valuable materials are three examples of how we can work towards a more sustainable future. But how can business leaders protect their organisations against future challenges, where we can no longer consume as much as we need to?

Solar panels place less demand on grid-supply electricity


Offering simple first steps (F)

We are already undertaking some of the first steps by using energy-efficient and manual equipment to reduce or eliminate energy consumption. The low-hanging fruit is becoming business as usual. But now it’s time to step it up a gear.

This is where the new ISO14001:2015 standard will come into its own, cementing the connections between sustainability professionals and leaders of business and industry, to share their different skillsets. It will place sustainability at the heart of a business, putting it into the context of the business as a whole, addressing the needs of all parties. No longer will environmental managers shoulder the responsibility for the Environmental Management System - everyone in the business will have a part to play, starting from the very top.

We’ve already started to engage with senior leaders within the business as well as younger members of staff to set our strategy for the future. We’ll report more about this in the coming months.

Everyone in the business will have a part to play, starting from the very top.


Kris Karslake is Senior Environmental Advisor at BAM 

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