As the third largest federal landowner and steward for tens of
millions of acres of land, the Defense Department has a vast responsibility
to protect the environment. In recent years, the Pentagon has developed
environmental programs that emphasize compliance, pollution prevention
However, a recent Defense Department Inspector General report concluded
that while traditional compliance-based environmental management
programs had resulted in substantial improvements in environmental
quality and human health and safety, the existing programs were
not effective for assuring continual improvement.
The IG report concluded that the Defense Department needed a more
mature, quality-based environmental management program to improve
compliance, lower compliance costs, decrease regulatory oversight,
reduce or eliminate penalties and more effectively demonstrate environmental
achievements. Pentagon officials decided that the ISO 14000 provided
the tools to achieve those goals.
In April 2000, then-President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order
13148 titled, “Greening the Government through Leadership
in Environmental Management.” The order was meant to ensure
that government agencies implement environmentally sound practices.
During his first year in office, President George W. Bush re-confirmed
EO 13148 as a national priority for government agencies.
The EO requires that each federal agency implement an environmental
management system at all appropriate agency facilities by no later
than December 2005. As that deadline approaches, many government
organizations are finding that ISO 14000 often is a useful option.
ISO 14000 is a series of international standards that were established
in 1996 by the International Organization for Standardization. The
ISO 14000 series defines and establishes environmental management
best practices for global industries.
The Global Environment & Technology Foundation predicts that
by the end of 2002 there will be at least 150,000 organizations
compliant with ISO 14001 (ISO 14001 is the actual standard in the
ISO 14000 system that constitutes third-party registration).
Well before Clinton issued that executive order, the Defense Department
had conducted a pilot program for implementation of environmental
management systems (EMS) at selected installations. As a result,
some military organizations proceeded with ISO 14001 EMS registrations.
(Log onto www.denix.osd.mil/denix/Public/Library/ISO14000 for more
information about the Defense Department pilot ISO EMS project.)
The Air Force has instituted an Environmental, Safety and Occupational
Health Management System (ESOH-MS) policy statement, directing the
implementation of an “ISO-like” management system structure.
The Air Force’s initiative will include the areas of safety
and occupational health. Some individual Air Force bases also are
pursuing ISO 14001 registration.
The Air National Guard has provided its ESOH staff with initial
training in ISO 14000 EMS implementation and analysis.
The U.S. Navy, following its participation in the original Defense
Department pilot study, has sought registration to ISO 14001 at
individual bases. The most recent example is the successful registration
of the T-AKE, a new line of replenishment vessels that is the first
in a line of Navy ships that have been built to be more environmentally
The Coast Guard and the Marine Corps also have successfully registered
individual bases to the ISO 14001 standard.
The Army has issued an EMS mandate, stating that all installations
conform to the ISO 14001 EMS standard by 2005. The Army EMS action
memorandum was issued by Raymond J. Fatz, deputy assistant secretary
of the Army.
Other government agencies have moved to address conformance to
EO 13148, including the U.S. Agriculture Department, Forest Service,
Postal Service and Department of Education. Many organizations are
still reviewing their options and the applicability of the EO to
EO 13148 was what initially forced the government’s attention
to ISO 14000. Many government agencies have identified ISO 14000
as the most flexible and applicable EMS model. The ISO framework
is pliable enough to encompass safety and occupational health issues.
Another reason for seeking compliance with the ISO 14001 EMS standard
is the opportunity to reduce fines and minimize liabilities should
the organization find itself out of compliance with another environmental
regulation. Moreover, by establishing a disciplined ISO 14000 EMS
framework, the probability of failing to meet another environmental
regulation decreases significantly.
Environmental responsibility has become a source of concern in
the United States, even among the general public. Establishing a
strong environmental image helps government agencies bolster the
public’s confidence, as well as promote a standard for how
private companies should operate.
The popularity of ISO 9000 Quality Management System (QMS) certifications
in government agencies is another important reason for the increased
adoption of the ISO 14000 EMS standards. The management system principles
of ISO 9000 were incorporated into the ISO 14000 EMS standards,
but were specifically targeted at the organization’s environmental
activities. ISO 9000 QMS certification follows a similar structure
as ISO 14000.
By establishing an ISO 14000 EMS, organizations might be able to
reduce costs—by decreasing waste, improving energy consumption,
developing better waste disposal methods and preventing liability
fines. Studies show that organizations registered to ISO 14001 have
identified cost savings as one of their first improvements.
Many ISO-consulting companies specialize in providing services
to government organizations seeking to implement ISO 14000. There
are software programs available to guide organizations through their
own ISO implementations. One such tool, for example, is called equationASP.
Advice to Managers
Before an agency begins the ISO 14000 process, it is important to
get commitment from top management. A way to do this is to prepare
a presentation that assesses the organization’s environmental
strengths and weaknesses; environmental improvement goals; estimated
current environmental costs versus post-certification costs; approximate
implementation costs and a list of ISO 14000 benefits.
Hiring an outside consulting team could help direct the audit,
interpret the environmental standards, set realistic environmental
objectives and a timeline for achieving those objectives, expedite
procedures and processes and manage training and documentation.
The organization should perform an environmental aspect/impact
analysis. To conduct this analysis, it is important to determine
the magnitude of factors such as administrative and engineering
controls, resource use, biophysical considerations (air emissions),
generation of hazardous or non-hazardous waste, noise or odor issues,
legal requirements, business considerations, community environmental
concerns, past history (internal audits and environmental reports)
and support infrastructure, such as training, procedures and monitoring.
An ISO 14000 EMS implementation takes a great deal of commitment,
financial support and work to complete. Once the decision has been
made to pursue certification, it’s important to establish
a realistic timeline for completing the project. Depending upon
a number of variables, an efficient implementation will typically
take between six and 10 months.
The fastest and most cost-effective way to complete the ISO 14000
certification is to build upon an already established EMS. If an
organization has an ISO 9000 QMS in place, most of the time and
costs of implementing the EMS can be avoided, because both systems
follow a similar structure and are designed to work together.
When it’s time to select a registrar to perform the ISO 14001
registration audit and issue the certificate, the organization must
ensure that the registrar is approved by an official accreditation
service. Otherwise, any certification performed by the registrar
may hold little or no value. Also, one must be aware of non-accredited
certification bodies that offer help for achieving ISO 14000, or
award “certificates,” without performing a full assessment
of the system.
Peter Grier is vice president of environmental services of Prism
eSolutions, in Philadelphia. The firm’s Web address is www.prismesolutions.com.