If you’re intending to get your business to operate in a greener and more environmentally conscious way but aren’t sure where to start, then help is at hand. There are already pre-defined systems and standards to work towards that won’t just get your business up to scratch but will also help to boost your credentials in the business world.
Being recognised as an ISO 14001 compliant business is increasingly becoming an accolade companies are fighting to achieve, particularly as firms and customers are increasingly not working with companies who don’t have it.
So to get a green thumbs up from consumers and peers in your industry becoming ISO 14001 compliant is essential. But what’s ISO 14001 all about and how do you get started?
ISO 14001 is an internationally recognised specification for an environmental management system. It provides a framework for businesses to operate in a way that has minimal impact on the environment – from reducing carbon emissions down to operating a ‘lights off’ policy in the workplace.
It establishes an environmental policy for all aspects of your business, from planning and targeting achievable environmental objectives to properly complying with laws and regulations. And once fully implemented, it gives your business the status of being an environmentally friendly establishment.
The guidelines were introduced as a result of the Rio Summit In 1992 which, though thought to have failed to deliver in many aspects, brought in the framework.
Evaluate your Current Policies
Before inviting in an official to investigate how well your business already operates, it’s a worthwhile exercise to evaluate your procedures and policies internally first. Invite all stakeholders in the business to provide an overview of their practices, or for smaller businesses, consider the following areas:
- Services and activities
- Office and working space
Additionally, try and read around recent environmental legislation and treaties.
Adopting ISO 14001
Once you’ve been externally audited, you will be provided with a framework for making improvements. This should form the basis of your action plan. Try and involve as many people as possible and try and interweave your new environmental management systems within business-as-usual practices. Don’t try and achieve things all at once – set out realistic targets for progress.
Get your Staff on Board
Most people are beginning to make changes in the home – so with a little bit of persuasion, they’ll do the same in the workplace too. Survey your employees to get their ideas and input and allow them to get involved in implementing new practices. Make the workplace a positive green environment to work – making it a collective duty for all staff to adopt better policies and use the facilities you provide will create a better morale among staff.
Once you’ve got your business up to scratch, you should still be aware that consistently achieving environmentally friendly practices is a work in progress. With new regulations and legislation being introduced each year as the environment becomes a more political issue, you should constantly review and update your procedures on a regular basis.
Here are a few things you can implement immediately to create a greener workplace:
- Operate a ‘lights off’ policy in the office
- Install energy efficient light bulbs
- Consider investing in video and phone conferencing equipment instead of travelling to external meetings
- Arrange for a recycling service
- Buy recycled stationery products