The right certification offers a path to sustainability
Across industries, companies have felt pressure to align their operations with increasing environmental standards. Organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency create policies aimed at improving the sustainability of the American economy - to reduce harmful emissions, cut pollution and leverage clean energy. For a business that's new to the world of sustainable practices, these regulations might seem daunting. By matching your business operations to certain norms and gaining certification for energy and environment management, you can realize the benefits of greener thinking.
Moving environmental policy in the right direction
Whether it's miles per gallon in the automotive industry or discharge limits in wastewater, sustainability-based regulations creep ever tighter. As businesses grow operations and adjust to constantly changing standards, it isn't enough to just remember to shut the lights off at the end of the day. True sustainable practices result from top-down prioritization that encompasses every facet of the business.
Sound like a lot? The difficulty lies in the planning taking the first step - not necessarily in the execution. Once your company gets going in the right direction and implements a flexible, comprehensive strategy, any future changes fall under that established umbrella.
But you shouldn't just conform to policy to meet regulations. When done correctly, sustainable business practices have an inherent benefit to the bottom line, too. That might come in the form of energy cost reduction, fine avoidance, or even better standing in the public eye. Getting to that point takes an approach detailed in several management standards.
ISO 14001: Environmental Management
To optimize the way your business promotes and coexists with the environment, ISO 14001 is a perfect starting point. The internationally recognized standard contains specific guidance on how your company can use resources more efficiently, reduce waste output and improve overall environmental performance while ensuring a competitive advantage and shareholder trust.
The key distinction in the ISO 14000 family compared with other environmental standards is that the ISO standard makes you examine your company's practices as a whole, rather than as individual elements. That's part of the ISO approach - to use a high-level structure that starts at the top and creates overarching parameters that can apply to separate functions. Additionally, ISO 14001 strives for continual improvement, meaning your company will be prepared for any changes that may arise
ISO 50001: Energy Management
Environmental sustainability is inseparable from energy consumption. If your company cannot claim to have a policy aimed at reducing energy use, you can't truly say you're committed to environmentally sound practices. ISO 50001 addresses company energy use - again, in the holistic, top-down, continual fashion that is typical of ISO standards.
Energy consumption is arguably even more directly linked to company costs than other environmental issues because you pay for the utility. The less you have to use, the lower your overhead. Here, too, regulatory bodies set limits on how much energy you can use before taxes, fees and fines set in. Those are additional costs your company will avoid by implementing the ISO-recommended framework.
Both ISO standards do more than prescribe a set of actions to take - they offer a way to set goals, meet targets, create a policy, leverage data, examine results, self-evaluate and adjust to new goals and regulations. Learn more about these ISO standards here.
The ENERGY STAR mark is recognized internationally as an emblem for energy efficiency. Not just any low-power appliance gains the mark - the program has high expectations. However, it's a worthwhile distinction to earn, because it establishes your products as among the best in sustainable technology.
ENERGY STAR is not a management policy, but rather a way to distinguish your products as highly efficient. Still, it represents a contribution to a more sustainable, environmentally conscious economy. If sustainable policy applies to your company's operations, it follows that the same mindset should adhere to your products, when possible.
Note as well that these standards aren't recognized unless you seek a trusted third-party group to offer certification. That's a crucial step - not only does it guarantee you that your company has successfully implemented those policies, but it also tells the world your organization committed fully to sustainable business.