Aspects & Impacts and Energy Use in a Business

In the first blog “Exploring the Role of Energy in an Environmental Management System” we started to discuss how energy management can be an integral part of an effective Environmental Management System. In this blog, we will focus on the part energy plays when determining your environmental aspects, specifically those that are significant to your business.

ISO 14001:2015 (ISO 14001) defines an aspect as ‘an element of an organisations activities or products or services that interacts or can interact with the environment.’ It requires an organisation to determine its environmental aspects that can control and/or influence.

Examples of where aspects could arise include:

  • Maintaining the office environment
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Transportation
  • Use of boilers and other machinery

For each of these points, energy is one environmental aspect. When we undertake an assessment of their environmental aspects at the outset of a project the use of energy is repeatedly identified as an aspect and often, a significant aspect.

Once all environmental aspects have been identified it is then essential to consider if you have an ability to control or influence the activity that caused them. For example, if you are in a fully serviced office you may have no control over the heating. However, simple monitoring equipment may allow you to get a comprehensive understanding of your energy use including patterns and total consumption levels. This information will give you the ability to focus energy efficiency initiatives on the areas that can have the biggest impact.

Another common stumbling block relates to transportation. If your business dictates a need for this, or the product or service you provide requires it, finding opportunities to make meaningful reductions the related energy consumption can be very difficult. However, changes in behaviour, brought about through training and awareness campaigns combined with efficient route planning and vehicle maintenance can see drivers significantly reduce their energy consumption whilst still covering the required distances.

ISO 14001:2015 also requires that consideration is given to all the lifecycle stages of an organisation’s environmental aspects.

Future purchases – Ensure that energy efficiency is a consideration in the purchasing process

Use of item – Ensure that the item is serviced in line with the manufacturers’ guidelines and that controls are implemented to mitigate the potential incorrect use

Disposal – Could waste be better segregated or packed to reduce the number/regularity of collections? Could the item be fixed rather than replaced? Could you pass the item to someone who may be able to make use of it rather than dispose of it? For each of the options, there is an opportunity to reduce energy.

With this clear integration between energy and ISO 14001, it can be of value to consider other standards, such as ISO 50001 which focus on energy management and can provide some very helpful guidance as to how to get the best from any energy reduction projects.

Please make sure you follow the other blogs in the series to find out more about energy and ISO 14001.

Guest Blog by Paul Stevens from AvISO Consultancy – Part of a series by Assent Risk Management and AvISO Consultancy