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How can ISO 14001 help your company’s facilities management?

Facilities Management (FM) is a business sector that will be worth one trillion US dollars by 2025, according to International Organization for Standardization. It can be described as a discipline that is “concerned with the management, operation and maintenance of an organization’s facilities.” Since every business, no matter what size, has some level of facilities management, it therefore becomes clear that the level of decision-making and efficiency can have a great impact on the wider environment. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the connection between ISO 14001 and facilities management. This connection means that the standard’s principles can assist any organization, whether managing its own facilities or multiple sites for others.

ISO 14001 and facilities management: Where is the crossover?

In April 2018. International Organization for Standardization published the ISO 41001 standard to support the facilities management sector. ISO 41001 sets out to bring cost savings and efficiencies to organizations who implement it, but also to improve employee health & safety and lessen an organization’s environmental impact. So where is the crossover with ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 principles work in both small and large organizations, and using the standard correctly can not only decrease environmental impact, but can also save your organization money, whether in the reduction of bills, packaging and travel, or simply by avoiding financial penalties due to non-compliance with legislation. These principles should also be considered in the facilities management sector. Let’s look at what these specifics are, and how they should be applied to best effect.

What to concentrate on

There are several sections of the ISO 14001 standard that can be seen to give specific valuable guidance which can benefit a company in the facilities management sector.

Planning environmental aspects. Section 6 of the ISO 14001 standard deals with planning, including environmental aspects, and that is the most obvious place to start. The article Six ways to deal with significant environmental aspects in your EMS provides guidance on how to differentiate between significant and less significant environmental aspects, which are normally present, no matter the size of the facility. Whether you are considering your use of utilities like electricity and gas, or looking at potential emissions, understanding the principles laid out in this article should help you to manage your significant environmental aspects more effectively.

Risk and opportunity. The same section also provides guidance on risk and opportunity, which we looked at in the article Risks and opportunities in ISO 14001:2015 – What are they and why are they important. Any organization involved in facilities management, whether over single or multiple sites, can considerably reduce costs and limit liabilities by having an efficient and proactive attitude towards business risk. By involving employees – who usually are closer to the day to day running of the business than many senior staff – risk can be mitigated, and opportunity to improve realized. Again, in the facilities management sector – as in many others – mitigation of risk and realization of opportunity almost always means cost savings and improved profit margins.

Context of the organization. Section 4 of the ISO 14001 standard provides advice on organizational context factors, including understanding the needs of interested parties, and determining if any of those needs become compliance obligations. Any facilities management company who can comply with this section can find immediate benefits. Ensuring that stakeholder requirements are met is critical for the long-term health of any business, and compliance to stakeholder needs and legislation can help the organization avoid financial penalty. The article How to achieve regulatory compliance can help you with this section.

Competence, Training and Awareness. Section 7 deals with “support”, including competence and awareness. The article ISO 14001 Competence, Training and Awareness: Why are they important for your EMS? examined the relevance of this aspect. If these are delivered effectively and regularly to your workforce, it stands to reason that your organization’s environmental efficiency and profitability will improve.

Emergency planning and response. Section 8 includes planning for emergency situations, and any organization with a significant responsibility for buildings and/or land should be aware of the responsibilities that follow from this section. Having efficient and rehearsed plans to deal with emergency situations will help safeguard employee and overall business interests, and will also ensure that significant environmental impact (and the financial and reputational damage that come with them) are avoided. The article How to satisfy emergency response requirements in ISO 14001:2015 can provide advice on meeting this clause.

ISO 14001 & facility management: How they are related

Finding environmental opportunities in the facilities management sector

With the facilities management sector having such a significant environmental impact, it becomes clear that applying ISO 14001 principles to your facilities management project or company can have great benefits. Whether understanding the needs of stakeholders, defining organizational context, defining emergency plans or ensuring communication is effective, ISO 14001 principles can help any facilities management company not only improve its environmental performance, but also profit and prosper.

To learn more about how ISO 14001 can help your facilities management, download this free Clause by clause explanation of ISO 14001:2015.

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.