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 Member Bodies (NMB) it was decided to revise the standard starting late 2016. The latest version published in May 2019.

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; each phase incorporates six consecutive stages. The number of phases is flexible.

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 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 consecutive stages. The number of phases is flexible. This allows organizations to develop the scope, i.e. the activities, products and services included, and maturity of their EMS, in line with their objectives and available resources..
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 standard will be implemented at European level as a CEN standard under the Vienna Agreement. For the European version, EN ISO 14005,  an Annex is included to cover the requirements of the EU EMAS scheme (REGULATION (EC) 1221/2009 and its revised annexes (Annex I-III, amended by Commission regulation (EU) 2017/1505  and Annex IV, amended by a still to be published Commission regulation).

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 which 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
In the support material section you will find an assessment sheet and an example of a working EMS project as referred to in the standard.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

The FAQ section aims at providing more details on the content of the standard
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 has the title of the standard been changed, compared to the 2010 version?

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 six 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?
Each phase consists of six consecutive stages. The outcomes with respect to the system's maturity after completion of a phase can be characterized using the five-level maturity matrix provided in Annex A of ISO 14005. The approach is flexible with regard to the number of phases and allows for a series of iterations, with each new phase building on the preceding phase to achieve a desired level of maturity. This allows an organization to develop the scope, i.e. the activities, products and services included, and maturity of its EMS in line with its objectives and available resources.
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 could be the starting point for a phased approach?
The phased approach could for example start with an environmental performance initiative or an environmental improvement project that focuses on one or more of the following options:
  • selected environmental aspects
  • specific EMS elements, such as fulfilment of compliance obligations (e.g. specific needs and expectations of interested parties) or communication
  • increasing the maturity of certain elements, such as ensuring that the organization’s existing environmental policy is taken into account in day-to-day decision making and operations.
Which kind of support tools are provided by the standard?

WG 9 developed an assessment sheet that supports the maturity matrix and which is available on the website. It follows the same structure as the maturity matrix and helps organizations to determine their level of maturity for each element. 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.

This website also provides an example on how a company developed a full EMS using the phased approach described in ISO 14005.


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.