Introduction to the ISO 14000 Series

ISO 14000 is a group of voluntary international standards addressing environmental management systems, environmental auditing, environmental labeling, environmental performance evaluation, and life cycle assessment. The standards are being developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and are commonly referred to as the ISO 14000 series. The ISO 14000 series provides an organization with a systematic approach to environmental management, and aims to establish a common worldwide approach. The standards are developed through a comprehensive consultation process with national standards bodies and interest groups from the 112 member countries throughout the world.

Technical Committee 207

The formation of ISO Technical Committee 207 (TC 207) in 1993 marks the beginning of the development of the ISO 14000 series. The US Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for ISO/TC 207 (US/TAG for ISO/TC 207) represents the United States in international negotiations on ISO 14000. The group is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop official US positions and responses to the draft standards that are being produced by ISO/TC 207, and sends delegates and experts to the ISO/TC 207 international meetings. The US/TAG is composed of over 500 individuals representing private companies, government agencies, environmental groups and consultants, and organizations and associations. The Department of Defense is represented on the US/TAG.

The ISO 14000 Series

The full list of ISO 14000 documents is provided at the end of this fact sheet. To date, six standards have been finalized and published. The first standard to be published (in 1996) was ISO 14001 – Environmental Management Systems – Specification with Guidance for Use. It is this standard which has received the most attention and has become widely implemented throughout the world. ISO 14001 takes a "quality management" approach to environmental performance, and aims to produce a culture of continuous environmental performance improvement within the implementing organization. ISO 14001, along with the European Union’s Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), has provided international alternatives to early national EMS standards such as the British Standard BS 7750 (published in 1992).

As the first standard in the ISO 14000 series, ISO 14001 provides an organization with the framework for a structured environmental management system (EMS) that can be easily integrated into the organization’s overall management process. Such a structured system enables an organization to move away from reactive, fragmented responses to environmental issues, and engenders a proactive approach allowing for the early identification of impacts, liabilities, and opportunities. ISO 14001 provides an organization with the ability and the management system needed to achieve increasingly high standards of environmental performance, and move beyond the opportunities stemming from traditional compliance-based environmental programs.

The other finalized and published standards in the ISO 14000 series cover guidelines, procedures, and qualifications for environmental auditing. ISO 14040 covers the principles and framework behind life cycle assessment. Future standards are expected on life cycle assessment, environmental performance evaluation, and environmental labels and declarations.

The ISO 14000 series is listed below:

ISO 14001 EMS – Specification with guidance for use Published September 1996
ISO 14002 EMS – Guidelines on ISO 14001 for small and medium sized enterprises No draft or published version available. Discussion in June 1998.
ISO 14004 EMS – General guidelines on principles, systems and supporting techniques Published September 1996
ISO 14010 Guidelines for environmental auditing – General principles Published October 1996
ISO 14011 Guidelines for environmental auditing – Audit procedures – Auditing of EMS Published October 1996
ISO 14012 Guidelines for environmental auditing – Qualification criteria for environmental auditors Published October 1996
ISO 14015 Environmental assessments of sites and entities Publication expected 2000
ISO 14020 Environmental Labels and Declarations – General Principles At draft voting stage. Publication expected late 1998.
ISO 14021 Environmental Labels and Declarations – Self-declaration environmental claims – Guidelines and definition and usage of terms At draft voting stage. Publication expected 1999.
ISO 14024 Environmental Labels and Declarations – Environmental Labeling Type I – Guiding Principles and Procedures At draft voting stage. Publication expected end 1998.
ISO 14025 Environmental Labels and Declarations – Environmental Labeling Type II – Guiding Principles and Procedures At working draft stage. Publication expected 2000.
ISO 14031 Environmental Management – Environmental Performance Evaluation – Guidelines At draft voting stage. Publication expected 1999.
ISO 14040 Environmental Management – Life Cycle Assessment – Principles and Framework Published June 1997
ISO 14041 Environmental Management – LCA – Goal and Scope Definition and Inventory Analysis At draft voting stage. Publication expected 1998.
ISO 14042 Environmental Management – LCA – Life Cycle Impact Assessment At committee draft voting stage. Publication expected end 1999.
ISO 14043 Environmental Management – LCA – Life Cycle Interpretation At committee draft voting stage. Publication expected end 1999.
ISO 14050 Environmental Management – Vocabulary At draft voting stage. Publication expected 1998.