ISO 14001 Gains Ground in U.S.

ISO 14001 certification is taken much more seriously in Europe – but it is starting to take root in the U.S. The Ford and General Motors requirement that all suppliers become ISO 14001-certified could provide the missing catalyst for growth of ISO 14001 certification in the U.S. About 11,000 suppliers will be implementing environmental management systems (EMS) along with getting certified – a boon for EMS-related services as well as the environment. Other corporations will no doubt follow suit.

In an article, “Automotive Industry Catalyzes ISO 14000 Growth in the U.S,” author Anthony Buonicore notes these actions reflect the increased emphasis corporations are placing on environmental stewardship and public opinion, as well as the benefits of ISO 14001 in instilling “a discipline in the manufacturing operation which can be invaluable in uncovering savings.”

In the construction industry, Skanska USA recently completed ISO 14001 certification for all U.S. operations ($3 billion in annual revenues). The Swedish parent company, Skanska AB, pledged to have all its divisions certified by the end of 2000. This is a difficult industry to certify because many of the players, especially in residential home building, are subcontractors working out of pick-up trucks. Neil Deluca, CEO of Spectrum Skanska, a high-end home buiding company in Valhalla, NY that does $140M annually was happily surprised by subcontractors’ acceptance of the certification process. “We had to educate almost all of them,” he says. In the lengthy field audit, the auditors “literally took contractors off backhoes” to ask why they were doing particular procedures. “We had to prove that our plan was real.” While workers initially were skeptical of the process, they eventually bought into it. “It was really neat to watch it unfold.”

Mike Lacey, who managed the U.S. certification process, sees several benefits. Especially for large-scale commercial construction divisions, certification acts as a differentiator and will bring in new business. It is becoming more common for multinationals and government agencies to require ISO certification from companies they do business with. Second, it will help the company manage risks and avoid liability down the road, and third, employing the process will help to streamline procedures and eventually bring down costs.

“Automotive Industry Catalyzes ISO 14000 Growth in the U.S”: Air & Waste Management Association’s, Environmental Manager, February 2000.

Skanska USA: [sorry this link is no longer available]
Skanska AB:

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