How to ensure your ISO 14001 implementation is profitable

Implementing an ISO 14001:2015 certified EMS (Environmental Management System) is an internationally recognized way of controlling your company’s environmental impact and demonstrating to stakeholders and customers that you are serious about important environmental factors. In the article 6 key benefits of ISO 14001 we examined the potential benefits, but in these cost-conscious times it is likely that your top management team will be concerned about the cost and return on investment, as would be the question over any other major project. So, are there any methods of ensuring that the ISO 14001 project is indeed profitable? And, are there any parts of the standard itself to help us with this element?

Assessing risk and opportunity

This is a critical part of the new ISO 14001:2015 standard, as we looked at in the article Risks and opportunity in ISO 14001:2015 – what are they and why they are important. Whatever method you decide to use in your EMS – SWOT analysis, risk register, employee consultation sessions – it is vital that you consider the opportunities that having an efficient EMS will help uncover for you. Will your certification allow you to enter tenders and contract bids that you were previously unable to? Will your products be allowed to qualify for extra environmental certification that will open new markets in new regions for the organization? Will the award of the 14001 certification allow your company to join environmental groups and network with companies looking to partner with those who have similar credentials?


This is also a specific clause in the ISO 14001:2015 standard, but it is important that you can accurately estimate the resources both in terms of man hours, and in finances, to both implement your 14001 project and maintain your EMS in the future. It sometimes pays to consult similarly sized organizations who have implemented ISO 14001:2015 to give you some idea of costs and timescales, and articles such as How long does it take to implement ISO 14001 can also help you in your calculations. You also may have consultancy fees, audit costs, and other fees, and it is important that these are all recorded to allow you to measure your return on investment.

Training and awareness

Ensuring that your employees, contractors, and stakeholders are educated, informed, and aware is vital to the successful operation of the EMS. Similarly, letting your customers and the wider business community know about your EMS and your organization’s environmental principles and aspirations can lead to more business and enhanced profitability.

Driving continual improvement

This is a vital element of your EMS and its ongoing certification to ISO 14001:2015, but it is also a major factor in ensuring that your EMS is helping your company remain profitable. Whether using corrective action, internal audit, or other established processes that conform to the “Plan, Do, Check, Act” cycle, improving performance to ensure that you constantly get good value for your investment in your EMS is vital. The article How to achieve continual improvement of the EMS according to ISO 14001 can help you with this.

Using performance evaluation

Again, performance evaluation has its own clause in the standard, and this is another element that you should use to try and measure and guarantee the profitability of your EMS. Quantifying the savings your EMS helps you achieve – think of process savings, packaging and travel savings, energy and utility reductions, and so forth – will give you a start. Then you can quantify the work and contracts that having your ISO 14001 certification has allowed your business to access that weren’t open to you before. Ensure you collect and review this data on a regular basis, and you will start to understand the true return on investment on your EMS. Make this evaluation a part of your risk and opportunity and continual improvement cycle, and these three elements should help to push your EMS and the business forward. Always remember that performance evaluation without meaningful planned actions to follow is almost pointless; improvement will only transpire when the two are used together.

EMS performance and profitability – The link

It is wise to remember that if your EMS is aligned with your company’s strategic direction, then it is already part of the mechanism that will make your organization profitable. Organizations establish an EMS and implement ISO 14001 for many varied reasons, but it is wise when you consider every clause of the standard and its implications that you also ask yourself: “How can this clause help my organization be more profitable?” Looking at things in this light will help you to eliminate waste from your processes and drive efficiency with the help of your employees. Developing a culture where profitability and environmental actions work together can be massively beneficial for both your organization’s bottom line, and the environment, and will keep your top team and Chief Financial Officer happy, too.

Check out the white paper on How to Budget an ISO 14001 Implementation Project and prevent any unnecessary expenses.

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.