ISO 14001 Environmental Certification | 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

Note: This information relates to the 2004 version of ISO 14001 - this is to be replaced by the 2015 version of the standard which was published on 15 September 2015. Whilst we would encourage any organisation implementing ISO 14001 to seek certification to the 2015 version, certification to the 2004 version can still be granted and will remain valid until 15 September 2018. Learn more about the changes to ISO 14001 here.

WHAT IS ISO 14001?

ISO 14001:2004 is the international standard for environmental management systems (EMS) and the most widely used EMS in the world, with over 14,000 organisations 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.

ISO 14001:2004 AND ISO 14001:2015

The ISO 14001 standard was most recently 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.


It’s right if you and your organisation 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 organisations 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


  • Improved environmental management. Identify potential impacts and implement controls and measures to keep risk as low as possible.

  • Legal compliance. Understand how statutory andregulatory requirements impact your organisation andstay on the right side of the law.

  • 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.

  • Proven business credentials. Independent verification against recognised standards speaks volumes andenhances your brand.

  • Ability to win more business. Procurement specifications often require certification as a condition to supply, so gaining the standard opens doors.

"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


Application for registration is made by completing the ISO 14001 Quote Request Form. This provides information about your organisation 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.


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.

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.


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

Contact our business advisors on 02 8863795 or submit a form here.


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