Many companies develop an Environmental Management System (EMS) according to ISO 14001. To demonstrate adherence to these requirements – they get “certified” or “registered” by an accredited registrar. This is the best way to verify the company is meeting ISO 14001 – through the use of an external EMS audit conducted by “accredited” external auditors.

However, registration services/ audits cost a lot of money. For a small company, registration auditing services may cost $15,000-$25,000 / 3-year period, not to mention the drain on employee resources needed to answer the auditor’s questions (auditees). The less expensive solution would be for the company to “Self-Certify” / “Self-Declare” conformance to ISO 14001.

Clause 1 of ISO 14001 allows companies to demonstrate conformance to the standard by either
• Making a self-determination and self-declaration
• Seeking confirmation of its conformance by interested parties such as customers
• Seeking confirmation by external parties
• Seeking confirmation by certification/registration by external parties

The self-declaration simply implies that a company which has implemented ISO 14001 publicly asserts that it conforms to the standard (without the involvement of certification bodies (registrars). So the question then becomes – how does your company self declare with credibility. Do you use external accredited RAB/QSA ISO 14001 auditors? Do you follow a protocol established for this purpose?

The US Army has done just that by developing a protocol for self-declaration audits as follows:

STEP 1: Determine Organization EMS Requirements
STEP 2: Planning the EMS Audit
STEP 3: Conducting and Documenting the EMS Audit
STEP 4: Determining Self-Declaration Status and Communicating the Results
REFERENCE – US Army Procedure for Self-Declaration on Compliance ….
This is very similar to the auditing guidance offered by ISO 19001. A step-wise procedure for managing and conducting EMS audits.

NC State IES, could act as an external auditor – to assist companies in self-declarations. By auditing key personnel at all “functional levels” of the EMS, IES could provide the quantitative assessment to demonstrate conformance to ISO 14001. An example of a possible report format is shown below. This type of self declaration / external audit approach – especially makes sense for simple companies that have little or no – environmental issues (warehouse, office complex, etc).

Figure 1. Example ISO 14001 Audit Report Which Could be Used for Self-Declarations

Figure 1. Example ISO 14001 Audit Report Which Could be Used for Self-Declarations