Have you ever seen a sign on the side of a building declaring the business is ISO certified? Ever wonder what it means? The designation first came on the radar of this author around the time of the turn of the century in connection with the so-called Y2K bug. That was the worry that computer systems could crash on a global scale at the turn over to Jan. 1, 2000.
Those concerns were largely overblown. Perhaps one reason why is because so many companies took the precaution of auditing their systems following standards established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Today, there are ISO standards for all sorts of issues, including environmental management systems (EMS).
An EMS recipe
If you are a business, land developer or community planner concerned about ensuring environmental law compliance, having an EMS system in place is important. But to create such a system, you need to know what makes up its parts. To that end, the ISO has established criteria for how to create a sustainable one with the issuance of ISO 14001:2015.
One necessary first step is to perform an assessment of environmental laws on the books and determine how business practices or project plans intersect with those laws. To get the clearest picture of real and potential issues, working with an experienced environmental law attorney is recommended.
Additional systematic steps in building a viable EMS include:
- Identifying what environmental responsibilities or organizational values influence activities
- Working cross functionally with all stakeholders to determine steps to achieve desired outcomes
- Developing policies, practices and documentation to maintain consistent compliance
- Anticipating potential crises and developing appropriate response plans
This represents only a small fraction of the elements that make up a workable EMS. To be sure that any system developed meets your community’s or organization’s goals and objectives for legal compliance and environmental enhancement now and into the future, work with counsel with demonstrated skill.