The New ISO 14001:2004 Standard

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Courtesy of Courtesy of AECOM

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On November 15, 2004, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published the new environmental management system (EMS) standard, ISO 14001:2004.  This eagerly awaited update replaces the original ISO 14001:1996 version. As of May 16, 2005, all new or renewed certifications must be to the ISO 14001:2004 standard.  Organizations that are currently certified to the 1996 standard have until 15 May 2006 to transition to ISO 14001:2004.  All ISO 14001:1996 certificates will expire after 15 May 2006. 

Consistency with ISO 9001

Many of the changes to the ISO 14001 standard represent efforts to make the standard more consistent with ISO 9001:2000. Recognizing that many organizations are developing integrated management systems, ISO 14001 has been revised to include language similar to ISO 9001 and to heighten the similarities and facilitate the integration of these two management systems.

Terms and Definitions

The 2004 version of ISO 14001 contains a number of new definitions of key terms.  The following terms (with corresponding clause numbers) are now defined in ISO 14001:2004: auditor (3.1), corrective action (3.3), document (3.4), internal audit (3.14) [replaces environmental management system audit], nonconformity (3.15), preventive action (3.17), procedure (3.19), and r ecord (3.20). 

In addition, there have been changes in some definitions from the ISO 14001:1996 standard.  Definitions of the following terms have been revised in the new version of ISO 14001: continual improvement (3.2), e nvironmental impact (3.7), environmental management system (3.8), environmental objective (3.9), e nvironmental performance (3.10), environmental policy (3.11), environmental target (3.12), and prevention of pollution (3.18).


The 2004 revision to the ISO 14001 standard now requires that your EMS have a defined and documented scope.  For many organizations, this will be relatively straightforward.  In the case of more complex organizations, however, it will be important to carefully clarify the scope of the EMS, particularly describing those functions or areas that are excluded.  For example, the following types of organizations will need to precisely define the boundaries of their EMS:

  • Industries with different divisions of the same company that operate at the same location
  • Corporate activities co-located with a manufacturing site
  • Campus-type organizations with shared environmental services such as wastewater treatment
  • Facilities with tenant operations, or
  • Failure to get buy-in from all stakeholders.

For More Information

* Summary Table of Changes and Impacts to Your Business
To receive a 9-page summary table of ISO 14001:2004 Changes and Impacts to Business, facility representatives may call (800) 722-2440 or visit
* Contact ISO 14001:2004 practitioners Tom Kowalski, CPEA, ( ; 630-836-1700), in ENSR International's Warrenville, Illinois office or Susan Pendleton, CPEA, ( ; 207-773-9501), in ENSR's Portland, Maine office.

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