ISO 14001:2015 New Revision

The revision of the ISO 14001 standard is now open for public comment, with the final standard publication expected in 2015, affecting over 280,000 certified organizations worldwide. Once final, the standard is expected to be in place until 2025.

Keeping the standard current with today’s environmental challenges, as well as positioning for future emerging trends, are core motivating factors in updating the standard. Environmental liability continues to expand beyond regulatory compliance to include operational, reputational and strategic business risk management. The new standard is shaping up to support environmental risk management as a core business objective and will therefore affect cross functional segments of the organization including environmental managers, sustainability professionals, and other business leaders.

A summary of key concepts incorporated into the draft standard include:

Organizational Context

By considering the context of the organization, the Environmental Management System (EMS) scope will expand to include evaluation and understanding of both the external and internal context of the organization in relation to the environment. This means that organizations will not only consider the impact of their activities on the environment, but also the impact of the environment on their activities (e.g., including anticipated impacts from climate change, raw material scarcities, energy management, etc.).

The scope of the EMS will also be expanded to include a life cycle review of the inputs (raw materials) and outputs (products) that the organization can control or influence, and their potential impact on the environment. This requires longer term risk forecasting as well as a broader value chain perspective, rather than focusing just within the operational footprint of the organization.

In addition, organizations will need to consider the needs and expectations of interested parties, including their supply chain and end users (i.e., stakeholder engagement).

The emphasis on supply chain and stakeholder engagement will provide expanded opportunities for reducing environmental impacts from the organization’s broader footprint.


The new emphasis on leadership is intended to ensure that environmental management is embedded at the strategic level with a clearer link to management of the overall business. Top management must ensure that objectives and targets are consistent with the organization’s strategic direction and that the EMS requirements are incorporated into business processes.

Protecting the Environment

There are also proposed changes associated with the environmental policy requiring enhanced leadership commitment, including expanding the pollution prevention commitment to proactive initiatives to protect the environment from harm and degradation, consistent with the context of the organization. The revised text does not define ‘protect the environment’ but notes that it can include prevention of pollution, sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, etc.


A heavier emphasis is placed on the determination of key performance indicators for all targets and objectives. The standard’s focus will shift from solely focusing on continuous improvement of the management system to include continuous improvement of the EMS environmental performance indicators. The emphasis on understanding compliance status will shift the standard’s focus to outcomes rather than the current process orientation. Consequently, the system moves beyond a compliance focus to a performance based approach to environmental management and sustainability.

The 14001 standard has been written using the new high level structure which is uniform to all new management system standards, including the new Quality Management System Standard (ISO 9001) that is undergoing revision with final publication slated for end of 2015; and a new Health and Safety standards (ISO 45001) that is currently being drafted. The synergy created by strategically aligning key management systems will help organizations to capitalize on efficiencies, achieve performance improvements, and support sustainability and business objectives.

Those organizations that are currently certified to the ISO 14001:2004 standard are granted a three-year transition period after the final revision has been published to migrate their environmental management system to the new standard. During the three year transition period, organizations that opt for third party certification will seek certification under the 2015 standard while the 2004 certification will be rendered obsolete.

The Draft International Standard is available for purchase at

ISO 9001:2015 The New Revision

UPDATE: The ANSI Webstore now offers the Final International Draft Stage, ISO/FDIS 9001. See the changes in detail and help contribute to the process!

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is releasing a revision to one of the most popular and widely used standards, ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Systems, next year in 2015. Currently undergoing the periodic review process that all ISO standards are subject to, ISO 9001:2015 will have several key changes both in itself and in relation to other standards. ISO 9001 is designed to be generic enough to apply to businesses of any size, in any industry, anywhere.

Key among the revisions is the switch to compliance with Annex SL, which molds the content of ISO 9001 and other related management system standards (MSS) with regard to a common structure, terms, and definitions. Essentially, Annex SL serves as a blueprint for MSS so that they can be combined and expanded upon while remaining compatible with each other without confusion.

Next, ISO 9001:2015 brings quality management into the central business outlook by taking advantage of leadership, company focus, senior managers, and complete integration into business practices. If those in charge of the company put quality management as a key priority, then that mentality (and resource allocation) will reverberate through the management hierarchy.

Finally, this revision will serve to bring ISO 9001 up to relevancy with regard to both challenges and opportunities that arise from changing technologies, globalization, and a reinforcement of a risk based approach, as well as structuring the standard to deal with future changes.

For those already familiar with ISO 9001:2008, here are the changes clause by clause:

Clause 4: Context of the Organization. This deals with the context of the organization, with a focus on senior management to understand the relationship between risk, challenges, and management systems.

Clause 4: Process Management. The determination of process risk and the allocation of responsibilities.

Clause 5: Leadership. This aims to align the company’s direction with quality management, to look at risk identification, assessment, and management from multiple directions, especially from the senior management.

Clause 6: Product Conformity and Customer Satisfaction. This section shifts from preventive action to a focus on risk and opportunity that relate to product conformity and customer satisfaction.

Clause 7: Efficient Resource Management. Newly included continuous attention to customer needs and satisfaction.

Clause 8: Contingency Planning to improve customer communication. Additionally, assessment of design suitability before operations begin.

Clause 8: Controlling Outsourced Activities. The revision highlights the importance of efficient risk management of outsourced activities.

Clause 9: Stronger Measuring and Monitoring. These requirements flow into effective risk assessment and quality management.

Clause 10: Continual Improvement Internal Audits get a more structured approach.

Taken together, the changes to ISO 9001 for the 2015 edition bring it up to date with the modern world and give it and businesses the tools necessary to anticipate and deal with future changes from a risk-based perspective.