ISO14000 - Environmental Management Systems - explanations, guidance tips and links

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ISO14000 - Environmental Management Systems - explanations, guidance tips and links

EMS Cycle of continuous improvement - PLAN stepISO14000

The EHSO Guide to the
International Standard for
Environmental Management Systems

These pages should help you to understand the International Standards Organization's 14000 standard and decide how to implement it. Click on a topic below to jump to that section. If you are looking for ISO14000 development services, gap analysis, program assessment, etc., click here to go to EHSO.

Quick Explanation:

ISO 14001 is a new (late 1996) standard for Environmental Management Systems. It was based upon the ISO 9000 family of specifications, so if you are family with the terms and structure of ISO9001/9002 you will readily grasp ISO14000. The key aspects of ISO14000 are that it is

  • voluntary,
  • flexible and nonprescriptive,
  • Can use existing environmental programs and systems,
  • pushes continual improvement,
  • encourages cost saving by integrating environmental requirements into the overall company systems (design, manufacturing, etc.) and
  • can provide a substantial market advantage.

A primary component of the ISO 14001 standard is the "Environmental Policy" which must be defined by an organization's top management. This environmental policies must include a commitment to both compliance with environmental laws & company policies, continual improvement and prevention of pollution. A system is then created (or if already existing, documented) that ensures that the environmental policy is carried out by the organization. This involves planning, implementation and operations, checking and corrective action, and management review.

The ISO Environmental Standards for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) are a series of completely voluntary standards and guideline reference documents which include environmental management systems, eco-labeling, environmental auditing, life cycle assessment, environmental performance evaluation, and environmental aspects in product standards. It is the focus on management" that distinguishes these standards from "performance" standards. An EMS help and organization to establish and meet its own policy goals through objectives and targets, organizational structures and accountability, management controls and review functions all with top management oversight.

EMS do not set specific requirements for environmental compliance nor do these standards establish requirements for specific levels of pollution prevention or performance.

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Copies of the Standards

We really wanted to make them available here, but the ISO organization is greedy and won't allow them to be given away or even sell them except from themselves. Apparently, only "certain organizations" are allowed to sell the IS standards. You can't even get them through

The IS 14000 standards can be purchased from:

  • ASTM, 100 Barr Harbor Drive West Conshohocken, PA, USA 19428-2959, Phone: (610) 832-9585, Fax: (610) 832-9555, e-mail: [email protected],
  • Globe Info Centre Canada Toll Free in Canada: 1-800-854-7179, Tel 1-613-237-4250
  • American Society for Quality Control (ASQC), ASQC Quality Press, 611 East Wisconsin Avenue, PO Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005, Toll Free: 1-800-268-1946, Tel: (414) 272-8575, e-mail:,

The IS standards are copyright documents. Photocopying and distributing them is strictly forbidden. We pay a fee for all the quotations for the IS documents that we use in our courses. Please do not ask us to send you a photocopy. If you want to help out, contact IS directly in Geneva and tell them that you want to see the IS standards available through our web site. Thanks!

Manuals, Guides and Downloads

The ISO 14001 standard is available for purchase through the following websites:

The ISO 14001 standard is available for purchase through the following websites:

Implementation Guides and Other Publications

Process Mapping: A Methodology for Aspects Identification Aspects Evaluation
  • Environmental Management Systems: A Guide for Metal Finishers (NSF International, December 1998)
  • Implementing an Environmental Management System in Community-Based Organizations (U.S. EPA and NSF International, December 1998)
  • Publicizing Your ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 Certification (International Organization for Standardization, 1998)
  • ISO 14000 - Meet the Whole Family (International Organization for Standardization, 1998)
  • Environmental Management Systems Primer for Federal Facilities (U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. EPA, 1998)
  • Case Studies

    ISO 14000-related Presentations

    Other Links: