ISO 14001: What’s the difference?

ISO Standards, Management Systems

With the new version of ISO 14001 due to be published in the coming months, we decided to sit down and have a look at the changes that will be made to the new version of the standard and how it will be different to the 2004 version of the standard.

With the publication of ISO 14001:2015, more than 250,000 organisations will begin the process of transitioning from the 2004 version to the 2015 version.

The 2015 version of ISO 14001 will:

  • Provide greater clarity
  • Be more relevant to the requirements of your organisation in order to gain sustainable business improvements.
  • Increase focus on improving environmental performance.
  • Be more explicit about the meaning of the PDCA process approach.
  • Have more explicit requirements for identifying risks and opportunities which will be expanded to include the management system as a whole.
  • Require greater involvement from top management.
  • Place greater emphasis on objectives measurement and change.
  • Have fewer prescriptive requirements.
  1. Structure:

The 2004 version of ISO 14001 followed Annex A but the 2015 version will follow Annex SL. Annex SL is a common framework that will make it easier for organisations to implement multiple standards as they will share the same basic language and requirements, including a core text, common terms and core definitions. All future standards will follow this structure as this will give all management system standards the same look and feel and will ensure consistency. By following this new structure organisations will find it easier to incorporate their environmental system into the core business processes and get more involvement from senior management.

  1. Leadership

Within clause 5 there are specific requirements for top management and people in leadership roles within the environmental management system. This clause places responsibility on top management to demonstrate leadership and commitment by leading from the top to assign and communicate the roles, responsibilities and authority for those who enable an effective EMS.

  1. Performance Evaluation

Clause 9 of the 2015 version addresses much of what was in Clause 4.5 (Checking) of 2004 version. There is a new emphasis on the need for evaluation. There will be a greater need to take steps to protect the environment and improve environmental performance. Good management will reduce risk of regulatory fines while also identifying opportunities to save money.


ISO 14001:2015 has been published to the FDIS stage. This is the penultimate stage of the revision process and publication of the standard is due in September 2015. The transition period for ISO 14001:2015 will take place between 2016 and 2018.

We have blogged on ISO 14001:2015 before, below are a list of previous blogs:

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BSI Group


The Environmentalist: May 2015 pg 18-20

Final Draft International Stage , ISO 14001:2015 , ISO Standard Update
Related Posts
ISO 14001 – Significant Environmental Aspects ISO 14001 – Clause 6.1.2 Environmental Aspects ISO 14001 – Clause 6.1.1 Actions to address risks and opportunities ISO 14001 – Assigning Responsibility and Authority ISO 14001 – What is an environmental policy? ISO 14001 – Clause 5.2: Environmental Policy ISO 14001 – Clause 5.1: Leadership & Commitment ISO 14001:2015 and the Process Approach ISO 14001 – Clause 4.4: Environmental Management System ISO 14001 – Clause 4.3: Determining the scope of the Environmental Management System
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