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Building the Roadmap to Sustainability

Compliance (or Certification) to an EMS Standard such as ISO 14001 provides the basic foundation for Sustainable Design and Development. The graphic (below) shows the ISO standards which are related to the various elements. Note that Environmentally Preferred Products (also known as Environmentally Preferable Purchasing) and Affirmative Purchasing do not have any related ISO standard (as yet). In addition to the listed standards there are additional supporting standards and guidelines. Some industries, such as construction have specific standards and technical reports aligned with their activities.

The expansion of the EMS to include these strategies and requirements should follow the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA or PDCA) Cycle. The planning and implementation of the base EMS is the first "turn" or application of the PDSA. Additional application of the PDSA should be integrated into the Business Operating System (BOS), with opportunities for improvement and long term strategies developed in concert with the Management Reviews which should utilize the information and metrics collected as part of the normal system activities including internal assessment.

Because each organization is different, there is no one path all should take. However, if an organization has embraced the MBNQA or EFQM core values, specifically Customer-driven Excellence) the transition is facilitated. The organization needs only to expand "stakeholders" from those related to economic, quality, and performance excellence to include sustainability and environmental excellence. (Note: societal concerns are already part of the MBNQA/EFQM criteria and, in all probability, will be expanded to include environmental concerns.)

If an organization has a mature Quality Management System, it can apply of its knowledge and experiences with the various strategies of performance improvement to environmental concerns. For example, the strategies of Lean concentrate on the reduction of Waste, in all forms. Unbridled waste is one of the primary motivations of many, if not all, environmental initiatives. Further, Six Sigma breakthrough strategy focuses on optimizing the process of the system - again to eliminate waste within the processes, reduce nonconformances (waste) and, thus, increase profits.

It is recommended that organization develop internal resources to maintain and improve their EMS. Although outside consulting and coaching will facilitate (and may be necessary to expedite) the development and implementation of the EMS, the experience and knowledge they bring will leave when they do. Remember, sustainability should apply to the BOS (EMS) as well as the products and services provided.

Omnex is an international training, consulting, and coaching organization specializing in management system solutions that elevate the performance of client organizations. Omnex provides training, consulting, and coaching services in Quality, Environmental, and Health and Safety standards-based management systems. Omnex also leads the way with Lean, Six Sigma and other breakthrough systems and methods of performance enhancement, supported by Omnex Systems, LLC, software solutions for Enterprise Wide Integrated Management SystemsŽ.

Legal Definition of Environmentally Preferable Products
"Products that have a lesser or reduced impact levels on human health and the environment when compared with standard products [or baselines] that serve the same purpose"
(Executive Order 13101)
An organization can directly implement EPP goals WITHOUT the need for a "Green Label Filter"
Related Standard/Guidance
ISO/TR 14062:2002, ISO 14063:2006, ISO 14031:1999
(Greenhouse Gases)
ISO 14064-1:2006, ISO 14064-2:2006, ISO 14064-3:2006, ISO 14065:2007
(Carbon footprint)
ISO/NP 14067-1, ISO/NP 14067-2
ISO 14040:2006, ISO 14044:2006, ISO/TS 14048:2002
ANSI SCS 002-2:200x, LCA EPP Procurement Network
Ref: RCRA Section 6002(i)(3)
ISO 14001:2004, ISO 14004:2004
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
Section 6002 of RCRA (42 USC 6962) [Laws in effect as of January 24, 1994]

A Cautionary Tale

An organization's leadership must be vigilant that they do not "encourage" actions which will be counter-productive in the long term. One example of this is when individuals and departments focus on optimizing their own area rather than the entire business system. An example of this occurred in a large organization which had an internal publishing department. When the organization started its journey to sustainability, it dictated that recycled in office material, specifically paper, be used. The publishing department followed these requirements and issued a purchase request to the procurement department for paper made from recycled materials. However, the procurement department also was under a management order to purchase only from the lowest bidder. The first print job with the new (recycled) paper was the annual catalogue with an initial run of 5000 copies. When the marketing department received the copies, they were very displeased, to say the least. The paper used was a variated light brown in color with visible inclusions. This was the cheapest recycled paper the purchasing agent could find. Since these documents were going out to customers, the marketing department rejected all copies (with, unsurprisingly, concurrence of top management.) So, instead of saving the ecology, this action increased waste and energy consumption, not even considering the overhead and material costs involved.