ISO 14001 | Environmental Certification | EMS Standard | NQA

ISO 14001 is the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems.

Helps you with

Environmental Policy, Impact Reduction, Pollution Prevention, Legal Compliance, Culture Change, Corporate Responsibility, Reputation, Resource Management

WHAT IS ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 is the international standard for environmental management systems (EMS) and the most widely used EMS in the world, with over 14,000 organizations certified in the UK and over 250,000 certificates issued globally.

ISO 14001 is the principal management system standard which specifies the requirements for the formulation and maintenance of an EMS. This helps to control your environmental aspects, reduce impacts and ensure legal compliance.

ISO 14001 is accompanied by ISO 14004 Environmental Management Systems – General Guidelines on principles, systems and support techniques. The standard covers issues such as the establishment, implementation, maintenance and improvement of an EMS.

Thanks to a new common structure ISO 14001:2015 has a higher level of compatibility with other management system standards, such as ISO 9001:2015ISO 27001:2013 and the forthcoming ISO 45001:2018 which will make integration easier.  

ISO 14001:2004 AND ISO 14001:2015

The ISO 14001 standard was updated in 2015. Organizations that have been certified under ISO 14001:2004 have until September 2018 to transition their management system to the new standard. Key differences between ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 14001:2015 include:

  • Annex SL structure: ISO 14001:2015 employs the high-level Annex SL structure, which standardizes the document’s terminology and layout to better align with other ISO quality management systems.

  • Organizational context: ISO 14001:2015 places more emphasis on the larger context the organization is working in and establishes environmental management priorities accordingly.

  • Risks and opportunities: ISO 14001:2015 introduces the concept of risk and opportunity as a planning tool, with an emphasis on potential threats — such as failing to meet compliance obligations — and potential benefits inherent to environmental management.   

  • Leadership: ISO 14001:2015 requires increased buy-in from top-level management, particularly in ensuring overall business objectives are consistent with the organization’s environmental management goals.

Learn more about about ISO 14001:2015 on this page, or contact an NQA representative directly.


Managing your organisation’s impact on the environment should be a key priority for your business, regardless of the industry you’re in. An environmental management system is a framework for making policy and process changes that help you improve your environmental performance. In addition to being better for the environment, this can also provide you with greater control over costs and other tangible benefits. 

There are many ways to go about implementing an across-the-board environmental management policy, but the best way is to become certified to ISO 14001. ISO 14001 certification provides you with immediate credentials that you can use to grow your business in an environmental and economically sustainable manner.


It’s right if you and your organization want to demonstrate your commitment to reducing the environmental impact of your activities and achieve the associated financial and stakeholder benefits. We have certified a wide range of organizations in different sectors including Edinburgh Zoo, Nairn’s Oatcakes, Glenmorangie and Veolia Water.

“Every year the NQA auditor comes to site to check that our processes are functioning properly.The visits themselves are always very helpful, as our auditor will not only check what we are doing,but will always offer proactive suggestions as to how things can be further improved.” Edinburgh Zoo


Nearly any business can benefit from achieving certification to ISO 14001 standards. The certification is broad enough to offer significant benefits to organisations in any industry or sector, while still providing a specific framework for implementing relevant sustainable practices. Some of the advantages to becoming an ISO 14001 certified organisation include:

  • Improved environmental management. An ISO 14001-conforming environmental management system helps you identify potential impacts and implement controls and measures to keep risk as low as possible. ISO 14001 provides quantifiable, scalable tools to reduce your resource use, improve the overall efficiency of your business and keep the larger impact of your operations to an absolute minimum. 

  • Legal compliance. When you understand how statutory and regulatory requirements impact your organisation, it’s easy and affordable to stay on the right side of the law. Because it is based on a set of industry-recognised best practices, ISO 14001 certification also positions you to meet the regulatory challenges of the future — a key advantage in a constantly changing legal landscape. 

  • Reduced operating costs. Achieving efficiencies in energy and water usage and through waste minimisation means money saved. 

  • Improved stakeholder relationships. Make the environment a priority and people will respond positively to your organisation. ISO 14001 certification is recognised around the world. If you are attempting to expand your business into new territories, certification is the best way to demonstrate to potential customers that you’re taking proactive steps to do the responsible thing.

  • Proven business credentials. Independent assessment against recognised standards speaks volumes and enhances your brand. An ISO 14001-conforming organisation is there for the long haul — buyers and other stakeholders recognise this and look to it when making decisions about who to initiate new .

  • Ability to win more business. Procurement specifications often require certification as a condition to supply, so gaining certification to the standard opens doors. When expanding your business into new market segments, certification is the best thing you can do make the process seamless.

"We have always taken our environmental impact seriously, but the process involved in achieving ISO 14001 certification has given us a structure, a rigour and a clear progression plan for ongoing improvement.” Nairn’s Oatcakes


The industry landscape is always changing. The introduction of the newest ISO 14001 revision in 2015 brings important changes that will have a lasting effect on the compliance requirements of businesses of all sizes and industries. These changes have impacts to your stakeholder needs and require the evolution of your management system. Considerations include:

  • Changing Regulatory Needs
  • Evolving Stakeholder Requirements
  • Legal Compliance


With a wealth of experience providing accredited management systems certifications, NQA is ideally placed to partner with you to meet stakeholder requirements and exceed industry expectations.

Technical committees and industry relationships. NQA is highly involved in a wide variety of industry committees and standards writing teams, helping us to maintain a keen awareness of changes within the industry.

Knowledge transfer supporting our customer’s organizational strategy. NQA is committed to ensuring customer awareness regarding changes in industry strategy, regulations, and standard requirements that may impact your management system approach.


Application for registration is made by completing the ISO 14001 Quote Request Form. This provides information about your organization so we can accurately define the scope of assessment.

Assessment to ISO 14001 is undertaken by NQA - this consists of two mandatory visits that form the Initial Certification Audit (explained below). Please note that you must be able to demonstrate that your management system has been fully operational for a minimum of three months and has been subject to a management review and full cycle of internal audits.

Certification is issued by NQA and maintained through a programme of annual surveillance audits and a three yearly recertification audit.

For further information on the audit stages click here.


ISO 14001 Training - We provide a range of IEMA, IRCA and CPD accredited training options to suit your needs and budget. These give you the skills to implement, audit and manage an effective environmental management system.

Gap Analysis - We can undertake a gap analysis to help you determine the likely workload and timescale for implementing an environmental management system that will achieve ISO 14001 certification. You can use this to plan implementation or brief a consultant.

Consultancy - We don't provide consultancy but we can help you choose a reputable consultant from the NQA Associate Consultant Register.

Get a Quote - We'll give you a clear indication of the costs of gaining and maintaining certification. You can complete a Quick Quote online or complete a formal Quote Request Form and email it directly to our sales team. 


We can advise you on how to achieve certification, related training, useful resources and finding a reputable consultant.

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