On The Road to Sustainability

ISO’s current portfolio of nearly 19,000 standards provides solutions in all three dimensions of sustainable development – environmental, economic and societal.

Here are some examples of achievements by the international community, represented at Rio+20, working within the ISO system. The examples illustrate how ISO standards serve as tools in the three dimensions of sustainable development.


Environmental Management

One of the concrete results following on from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992, was the development by ISO of the ISO 14000 family of standards for environmental management which translates into action ISO’s commitment to support the objective of sustainable development discussed at the first Earth Summit. In essence, the ISO 14000 family provides a framework for organizations large and small, in manufacturing and services, in public and private sectors, in industrialized, developing and transition economies, to : Minimize harmful effects on the environment caused by their activities:

Meet regulatory requirements

Achieve continual improvement of their environmental performance

Improve business performance through more efficient use of resources.

Has the ISO 14000 family actually made a difference?

The increasing number of users is an important element in the answer. At the end of December 2010, 14 years after publication of the first edition of ISO 14001, which gives the requirements for environmental management systems, the standard was being implemented by users in 155 countries and economies. These include both public and private sector organizations, large and small, in manufacturing and services, in developed and developing economies. In addition to ISO 14001, the ISO 14000 family includes 25 other standards addressing specific challenges such as lifecycle analysis, environmental labelling and greenhouse gases (see next section).

Climate change

The ISO 14064:2006 series and the ISO 14065:2007 standard provide an internationally agreed framework for measuring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and verifying claims made about them so that “ a tonne of

carbon is always a tonne of carbon ”. They support programmes to reduce GHG emissions as well as emissions trading programmes. Beyond their welcome by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, they are now being implemented on a day-today basis by users as varied as a New Zealand printer, a Norwegian shipping company, an Indian construction company and the Spanish organization that is one of the world’s largest transport infrastructure providers.

ISO and the Environment

The ISO 14000 family is the most visible part of ISO’s work for the environment. In naddition, however, ISO offers a wide-ranging portfolio of standardized sampling, testing and analytical methods to deal with specific environmental challenges. It has developed more than 650 International Standards for the monitoring of aspects such as the quality of air, water, soil and nuclear radiation. These standards are tools for providing business and government with scientifically valid data on the environmental effects of economic activity. They may also be used as the technical basis for environmental regulations. Other environment related work includes standards for designing buildings, or retrofitting existing ones, for improved energy efficiency.


ISO standards provide solutions and achieve benefits for almost all sectors of activity, including agriculture, construction, mechanical engineering, manufacturing, distribution, transport, healthcare, information and communication technologies, food, water, the environment, energy, quality management, conformity assessment and services.

Efficiency, Effectiveness, Innovation

These standards contribute to sustainable economic development by increasing efficiency, effectiveness and, therefore, conserving resources. They keep the wheels of industry turning by providing specifications, dimensions, requirements and testing and maintenance regimes for engineering, construction, production and distribution.

They ensure compatibility and interoperability of the information and communications technologies that have become the backbone of almost every sector. They speed up the time to market and diffusion of products and services derived from innovation, such as nanotechnologies and vehicles powered by electrical batteries or hydrogen. They facilitate trade, providing a basis for agreement between business partners and the technical support for regulation.

Economic Benefits

Several studies have found that the economic benefits of standardization represent about 1 % of gross domestic product. This shows that standards make an annual contribution of GBP 2.5 billion to the economy, and attribute 13 % of the growth in labour productivity. Standards and related conformity assessment (checking that products and services measure up to standards) have an impact on 80 % of the world’s trade in commodities.

Management Standards

ISO 14001, referred to above, is a management system standard like the pioneer in this field, ISO 9001 for quality management. These are among ISO’s best-known 14001 has since been followed by other standards for the needs of specific sectors, or to address specific issues.

They include:

Information security (ISO/IEC 27001)

Food safety (ISO 22000)

Supply chain security (ISO 28000)

Energy management (ISO 50001)

Road traffic safety management

(ISO 39001 – under development).

Although the ISO 31000 standard for risk management is not a management system standard, it shares with this category the attribute of being generic, providing benefits for any organization in the public or private sector.

 These benefits may be economic, environmental or societal, making it an important tool for sustainability.

Social Responsibility

1 November 2010 saw the publication of ISO 26000 which gives organizations guidance on social responsibility, with the objective of sustainability. The standard was eagerly awaited, as shown by the fact that a mere four months after its publication, a Google search resulted in nearly five million references to the standard. This indicates there is a global expectation for organizations in both public and private sectors to be responsible for their actions, to be transparent, and behave in an ethical manner. ISO 26000, developed with the engagement of experts from 99 countries, the majority from developing economies, and more than 40 international organizations, will help move from good intentions about social responsibility to effective action.


ISO offers more than 1 400 standards for facilitating and improving healthcare. These are developed within 19 ISO technical committees addressing specific aspects of healthcare that bring together health practitioners and experts from government, industry and other stakeholder categories. Some of the topics addressed include health informatics, laboratory equipment and testing, medical devices and their evaluation, dentistry, sterilization of healthcare products, implants for surgery, biological evaluation, mechanical contraceptives, prosthetics and orthotics, quality management and protecting patient data. They provide benefits for researchers, manufacturers, regulators, healthcare professionals, and, most important of all, for patients. The World Health Organization is a major stakeholder in this work, holding liaison status with 61 of ISO’s health related technical committees (TCs) or subcommittees (SCs).


There are some 1 000 ISO food-related standards benefitting producers and manufacturers, regulators and testing laboratories, packaging and transport companies, merchants and retailers, and the end consumer. In recent years, there has been strong emphasis on standards to ensure safe food supply chains. At the end of 2010, five years after the publication of ISO 22000, the standard was being implemented by users in 138 countries. At least 18 630 certificates of conformity attesting that food safety management systems were being implemented according to the requirements of the standard, had been issued by the end of 2010, an increase of 34 % over the previous year. The level of inter-governmental interest in ISO’s food standards is shown by the fact that the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organizations has liaison status with 41 ISO TCs or SCs.


The goals of safe water and improved sanitation are ingrained in the UN Millennium Development Goals. ISO is contributing through the development of standards for both drinking water and wastewater services and for water quality. Related areas addressed by ISO include irrigation systems and plastic piping through which water flows. In all, ISO has developed more than 550 water-related standards. A major partner in standards for water quality is the United Nations Environment Programme.

*This article was originally published in ISO Focus Magazine. The text is based on the brochure, Rio+20 – Forging action from agreement – How ISO standards translate good intentions about sustainability into concrete results.


Energy Efficiency Standards Ensures Savings for Green Buildings

Rising energy consumption has always been a cause of concern for the Malaysian government in the last few years. The appearances of green building constructions and developments confirm the need for more environmentally friendly buildings in the country – especially to conserve the high usage of energy and electricity in buildings for a modern country such as Malaysia.

In a previous report by the Energy Commission of Malaysia, the country has steadily increased its electricity usage by compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.9% from 2005 – 2009. It is even more alarming to note that 78% of the electricity consumed was by Industrial and Commercial sectors for infrastructure operations in 2009.

Why Green Building in Malaysia?

One of the biggest advantages of constructing green buildings is the cost-saving benefits both in the short and longer term. Utilisation of recycled materials to construct the building immediately lowers your short term cost whilst putting in place longer term solution such as energy saving devices helps lower the longer term cost impact of building maintenance and repairs.

On top of the obvious cost-savings benefits, many construction and developers firm are also constructing greener; more sustainable building simply because of the market’s higher valuation on such properties. Both residential and commercial properties stand to gain a higher resale value since buyers are aware that maintenance cost in the longer term will be lower than non-sustainable developments.

The government’s incentive also proves to be effective in driving the development of green buildings in Malaysia. In 2009, the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water published a guidebook on various incentives for developers and encouraging the industry to obtain Green Building Index (GBI) certification. Attractive incentives includes 100% tax exemption on any GBI qualifying expenses (QE) until 2014 and also stamp duty exemption for purchases incurred on such accredited GBI properties in Malaysia.

Realizing the cost savings potential of green buildings, many property developers in Malaysia are actively turning green to join the race. Corporation such as Teliti International has plans to build a 120,000 sq ft green datacentre whilst Faber Group Berhad will spearhead a pilot project to conduct energy audit at five local government hospitals in Malaysia for efficient energy usage.

Whilst qualifying for tax and stamp duty exemption may be a credible reason for adopting GBI; there are other longer term solutions for building cost management. Even if the organisation does not plan on adopting GBI, there are alternatives for cost reduction such as adopting a good energy management system that can help the organisation lower its overall long term maintenance and energy cost.


Developed by BSI, the BS EN 16001 Energy Management System (EnMS) standard has provided many organisations with the necessary framework to manage, monitor and react to its own energy consumption patterns. It allows management to plan for the reduction of energy usage thus saving costs from daily building maintenance and operations. The framework also helps to boost productivity of staff members by identifying critical points of energy wastage and affecting behavioural changes to effectively reduce energy consumption in the organisation.

SAVING Cost with a Good Energy Management System

However, the real value of the BS EN 16001 EnMS standard is not only in the implementation of the framework but rather on the certification to the standard. Certifying against BS EN 16001 EnMS induces
critical self-assessment upon the organisation management through periodic auditing to constantly evaluate and monitor the energy consumption of the organisation. BSI Group auditors are qualified to  organise annual audit sessions to ensure that the organisation is not merely complying to a minimum standard for energy reduction but pushing beyond to save more by being efficient with their energy consumption through a formal ‘plan, do, act and check’ cycle.

The recent launch of a new energy management standard by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) also provides organisations with a further option. Experts from the BSI Group were actively involved in the formulation of the ISO 50001 Energy Management System standard which is planned to supersede the BS EN 16001 EnMS by 2012 as the international standard for energy management.

While green-friendly devices can help reduce energy wastage and unnecessary consumption; it is often people and entrenched practices that prevent optimal energy usage. After all, a green building is only just another building if not for those whom chooses to go green in their everyday practice. BSI Group’s BS EN 16001 EnMS and the recently launched ISO 50001 EnMS standards offer a formalised energy policy management framework to help ensure that green buildings are not only built green but continue to be operated in an environmentally friendly manner.

This article is republished with permission from our Knowledge Partner, BSI.

APEX Global holds ISO 50001 Sneak Preview

The sneak preview of ISO 50001:2011 – the first ISO standard on Energy Management System was successfully held yesterday July 12, 2011 at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City. The training was conducted by APEX Global in partnership with TUV Rheinland – the certifying body in the field of quality and environmental management systems.

ISO 50001:2011 has been released at the most opportune time for organizations to streamline their energy practices and utilize the guidelines for tangible energy savings.  Sonny Tapia, Senior Consultant of ECC International facilitated the workshop with his expertise in the deployment and implementation of Quality Management Systems anchored on ISO standards.

Thirty-six delegates from companies across various industries from education to manufacturing attended the training which provided an overview of the guidelines, requirements and its relevance to other management systems. To give the participants an interactive and lasting learning experience, they were provided with an ECHO CD, ISO 50001 Practitioner’s Guide, and an Energy Calculator which allows them to perform an assessment of their current energy consumption and identify energy saving opportunities.

Some of the participants’ testimonials are:

This will be very beneficial for our Oil group and Food group as energy management is crucial to their bottomline being in a generation industry. We can link this to Environmental Management System and our corporate social responsibility activities. –Nicanor Saturnino Jr –  ISO Head, Hedcor, Aboitiz Group

The training was very informative and actively facilitated. I learned new concepts and lessons on energy conservation. –Leila Carrillo – AVP for Operations, AWS Distribution Phils.

Energy Efficiency – Best Practices and Frameworks

Energy Efficiency (EE) encompasses all changes that result in a reduction in the energy used for a given energy service (heating, lighting…) or level of activity. This reduction in the energy consumption is not necessarily associated to technical changes, since it can also result from a better organization and management or improved economic efficiency in the sector (e.g. overall gains of productivity).

According to estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA), world energy demand will increase by 45% between now and 2030 unless remedial actions are taken. Globally, energy is consumed by the following sectors: Industrial, Transportation, Residential and commercial. Industry accounts for one third of all the energy used globally and for almost 40% of global CO2 emissions. Industries have to take necessary steps immediately to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to climate change initiatives of the global community. Policies are needed to assist industry in decoupling energy consumption from output by improving energy efficiency and moving to “best practice” technologies.

All international agencies such as UNEP, EU, IFC, ADB etc have initiated several projects across the globe related to energy efficiency of industrial sector. There have been several frameworks and standards published on the topic of energy efficiency and the most popular ones are:

  1. ANSI/MSE Management System Framework
  2. UNEP Cleaner Production – Energy Efficiency Framework
  3. EnergyMAP
  4. BS EN 16001
  5. ISO 50001

All of the above frameworks follow the management system approach and the latest one is the ISO 50001 standards released in June 2011. ISO 50001:2011 specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and improving an energy management system, whose purpose is to enable an organization to follow a systematic approach in achieving continual improvement of energy performance, including energy efficiency, energy use and consumption.

Improved energy efficiency can help companies to: Reduce energy and production costs, Improve environmental performance and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Reduce exposure to rising energy prices and energy shortages and Win new customers who consider environment as important selection criteria.

Most importantly, energy efficiency does not only benefit companies but also helps the nations to reduce energy imports, conserve limited natural resources and achieve energy security and contributes to a sustainable environment

– Sath Sathappan, Director, Asia Society for Social Improvements & Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST)

Sources: http://www.ansi.org,  www.energyefficiencyasia.org, World Energy council, International Energy Agency, http://www.iso.org

First ever Energy Management Standard Released by ISO

Energy consumption has become a major issue for most of the industrial sectors & they are looking forward to efficient energy consumption methodologies. Recognizing this, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) introduced the most comprehensive energy management standard – ISO 50001- ‘International Standard for Energy Management’.

Energy management systems will now have an internationally accepted implementation standard for different sectors of organizations, independent of its size or services, sectors as well as its geographic locations. The standard has been designed by experts from the national standards bodies of 44 ISO member countries participated within ISO/PC 242 in the development of ISO 50001, with another 14 countries as observers.ISO 50001 will help the industries in efficient energy consumption and reducing the cost of their electricity consumption. (http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_50001_energy.pdf)

This new standard shall be based on the management system model which will be in line with previous standards like ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management), ISO 22000 (food safety), ISO/IEC 27001 (information security).In particular, ISO 50001 follows the Plan-Do-Check-Act process for continual improvement of the energy management system. The idea behind this standard is being able to promote energy management best practices and reinforce good energy management behaviors. Some of the key benefits organizations would get by implementing this standard would be –

  • Making better use of their existing energy assets
  • Evaluating and prioritizing the implementation of new energy-efficient technologies
  • Provide a framework for promoting energy efficiency throughout the supply chain
  • Facilitate energy management improvements for greenhouse gas emission reduction projects

ECCI, is the leading process improvement solutions provider in Southeast Asia, focused on process consulting, automation solutions, and learning outsourcing services. We have worked on implementing the EN 16000 Energy management standard & is one of the first in organizing a sneak peek and awareness session on ISO 50001 standard in Philippines on July 4 2011 at New World Hotel, Makati City.