ISO 14005 - Environmental management systems – Guidelines for a flexible approach to phased implementation


ISO 14005 was first published in 2010. Following detailed consultation with National Standard Bodies (NSB) it has been decided to revise the standard starting late 2016 and taking 2 years - fast track process. Chair and secretariat are provided by Germany (DIN).

The overall aim for the revised standard

Encourage and guide implementation of an EMS according to ISO 14001:2015

Increase uptake of ISO 14001 among SMEs and along the supply chain, using a phased approach

The intent of the revised standard

Due to growing pressures on the environment, interested parties increasingly expect organizations to manage their interactions with the environment responsibly and proactively. By committing to a systematic approach for environmental management, the organization can respond to these needs and expectations achieve continual improvement of environmental performance and gain a number of other advantages.

Many organizations already benefit from having an environmental management system (EMS). However many more organizations, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), still lack a formal EMS and therefore do not reap all of the benefits. The full implementation of an EMS at once might prove difficult for some organizations and often depends on availability of resources. Using a phased approach allows an organization to develop its EMS over time and to its specific circumstances.

Two applications will be in focus

  1. Starting from fragmented activities related to the improvement of environmental performance, develop the insight that a more structured and systematic approach regarding EMS is useful
  2. Assessing an existing EMS with regard to gaps vs. ISO 14001:2015, in business (suppliers due diligence, outsourced processes) or policy  (against other CSR or EMS approaches) context

The scope of the revised standard

This International Standard provides guidance for organizations, including small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), on the phased approach to the establishment, implementation, maintenance and improvement of an environmental management system (EMS) that an organization can use to enhance its environmental performance. The phased approach as described in this International Standard provides flexibility for an organization in developing the EMS over a number of phases, each consisting of six incremental stages.
This International Standard is applicable to any organization, regardless of the level of development of its environmental management, the nature of the activities undertaken or the location at which they occur.
By using this International Standard an organization could develop a system that ultimately satisfies the requirements of ISO 14001.
The guidance does not cover those elements of specific systems that go beyond ISO 14001 and it is not intended to provide interpretations of the requirements of ISO 14001.

The target audience for the revised standard

  • Organizations, especially small and medium sized, who do not yet have an EMS according to ISO 14001, and want to build it over time
  • Organizations who intend to move from ad-hoc solutions to a systematic approach for improving their environmental footprint, thus saving cost and increase efficiency –starting with the most promising areas
  • Organizations who intend to fulfill increased requirements in respect of their supply chain and subcontractors
  • Politicians who intend to grant regulatory relief to organizations with a suitable EMS

Timeline (as of January 2018)

The following steps in development of the revise standard have been accomplished so far:
  • 30 and 31 August 2016: Workshop on content and approaches to specific issues
  • 9 to 11 November 2016: 1st WG meeting in Berlin, develop WD.1 and issue for comment in WG 9
  • 22 to 24 March 2017: 2nd WG meeting in London, develop WD.2 and issue for comment in WG 9
  • 7 to 9 June 2017: 3rd WG meeting in Halifax, develop CD.1 and issue for comment and ballot in SC 1
  • 18 to 22 September 2017: 4th WG meeting in Oslo to resolve collated comments on CD.1 and to develop DIS
  • 8 November 2017: ISO DIS 14005 submitted to ISO (being prepared as an joint ISO/CEN standard under the Vienna Agreement, with ISO lead)
  • 12 January 2018: DIS balloting period commenced
  • 19 January 2018: the ISO 14005 Assessment Sheet (previously Annex B of the standard) has been issued to SC1 for comment (see also FAQ)
And the following steps are still to come:
  • 6 April 2018: close of DIS ballot on ISO 14005; close of commenting period on Assessment Sheet
  • June 2018: 5th WG Meeting for DIS comments’ resolution, prior to SC1 plenary meeting in Berlin, Germany
  • July 2018: SC1 Ballot aiming to skip FDIS
  • September 2018: Publication of ISO 14005

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

The FAQ section aims at providing more details on the content of the standard
What are the advantages of a phased approach?

A phased approach offers several advantages. Organizations can readily evaluate how the time and money put into an EMS provides a return.  They can develop an EMS that meets their requirements allowing them to start and stop to suit their resources - both human and financial - and see how environmental improvements can help to reduce costs, to improve community relations, to assist in demonstrating legal compliance, as well as to help living up to expectations of interested parties.

What is the purpose of this standard?
The purpose of this International Standard is to guide organizations, to implement an EMS by using a phased approach. This approach can be applied to ultimately meet the requirements of ISO 14001.

Why is there a new title of the standard?

The title of the standard has been modified to: “ISO 14005 - Environmental management systems – Guidelines for a flexible approach to phased implementation”. This change has been made to emphasize the flexibility aspect of the approach and at the same time avoid duplications as were present in the previous title.

What is meant by “flexible”?

The phased approach, as described in this standard, allows organizations the flexibility to develop their EMS over time depending on their specific circumstances.

While each phase incorporates 6 incremental stages, the number of phases is flexible.

That allows an organization to:

  • develop an EMS at its own pace;
  • decide the scope of its EMS implementation and expand it to suit its resources;
  • decide the number of phases it undertakes and the level of maturity it wants its system to achieve;
  • start with areas that indicate the greatest potential for environmental improvement and sustainable returns on investment;
  • stimulate a positive culture towards environmental management;
  • expand an existing EMS towards meeting the requirements of ISO 14001.
What does “phase” stand for?
In each phase the organization follows 6 incremental stages. The approach is flexible with regard to the number of phases. This allows an organization to develop the scope, i.e. the activities, products and services included, and maturity, i.e. the quality, of its EMS in line with its objectives and available resources.
What could be the starting point for a phased approach?
The phased approach could for example start with a project focusing on a specific environmental aspect, such as the use of energy; or addressing the needs of a certain interested party, such as a customer requirement; or managing a specific environmental issue, such as demonstrating legal compliance.  Over time the EMS can be expanded, for example to include a broader range of environmental aspects, to systematically address all relevant needs and expectations of interest parties or to improve environmental performance beyond legal compliance.
Which kind of support tools are provided by the standard?
The maturity matrix (will be Annex A of the standard), which is accompanied by an assessment sheet (content of Annex B of the standard), provides a tool for measuring progress. Measuring progress towards implementing an EMS is useful to track its benefits to ensure the efficient use of resources and achievement of the organization’s objectives.

What has been changed in the Maturity Matrix (Annex A of ISO 14005:2010)?

There have been major changes to the Maturity Matrix (Annex A) to take into account the new content of the revision, including adaptation to ISO 14001:2015.  The maturity matrix is a useful tool for measuring progress of EMS implementation.


WG 9 also developed an Assessment Sheet (to support users of the standard in working with the Maturity Matrix) which will be a stand-alone document (separate from the standard). It will be made available through the SC1 website when the revision is published.