The following are the five main benefits of investing in an ISO 14001 environmental management system.

Legal Benefits

Complying with Environmental Laws and Regulations

One of the most commonly cited reasons for implementing an ISO 14001 environmental management system is that it helps an organization comply with environmental laws and regulations.

ISO 14001 registration will provide additional assurance to City Council, senior management, regulators and key stakeholders that appropriate procedures have been implemented to identify, track, and communicate environmental laws and regulations. ISO 14001 registration will also provide assurance that our Administration is controlling, monitoring, and improving performance, relative to these laws/regulations.

A strong environmental management system, aimed at legal/regulatory compliance, will serve the City of Edmonton by increasing the likelihood of avoiding convictions, fines and judgments; avoiding internal legal costs; and promoting positive relations with regulators.

Avoiding Charges or Conviction

If an organization commits an environmental offence, it can be liable, even if the accident is unintentional. Moreover, the Crown does not have to prove that the conduct was intentional in order to succeed with prosecution.

However, "due diligence" can be used as a defence in such situations. Organizations can avoid conviction by showing they have taken all reasonable steps to avoid the type of harm that happened. This is important not only to the City as a corporate body, but also to its employees and even elected officials in their personal capacity.

Avoiding Internal Legal Costs

If the City is charged with an environmental offence, there are associated costs. Either outside legal counsel would have to be retained or, if handled internally, resources would need to be assigned to the project that would otherwise have been used elsewhere. In either case, there may also be the need to retain scientific or other experts for advice. The cost of such experts will vary depending on the amount of work required and the area of expertise.

Better Relationships with Regulators

Organizations that implement an ISO 14001 environmental management system often report improved relations with government regulatory agencies, find that regulators are quicker to provide technical support, and find that the regulators are much more supportive in general. ISO 14001 registration will send a strong signal to regulators that the City of Edmonton is commitment to minimize its impact on the natural environment.

Economic Benefits

Organizations that implement ISO 14001 environmental management systems commonly cite improved efficiency and cost savings as benefits. As organizations strive to reduce their environmental impacts (by reducing consumption and pollution), cost savings often follow. The continuous improvement philosophy that is central to ISO 14001, also leads organizations to better, more efficient ways of doing business.

Three types of economic benefits are most commonly reported:

  1. Capturing Institutional Knowledge: In developing an ISO 14001 environmental management system, a great deal of effort is devoted to documenting and communicating operating processes, procedures, environmental aspects and legal requirements. In the absence of such a system, much of this knowledge resides in the heads of employees – lost to the organization when employees retire. ISO 14001 ensures this information is properly documented, communicated and retained. As well, the cyclical nature of this management system ensures all system information is reviewed and updated at least annually.

  2. Streamlining Operations: Organizations often save money as a result of greater operational efficiency and energy conservation.

  3. Increased Awareness and Participation: Organizations benefit from better communication about environmental issues inside and outside the organization. ISO 14001 gives people an avenue to raise environmental issues and makes it clear that environmental performance is an important part of the corporate culture.

Ethical Benefits

Canada has an ethical responsibility to improve its environmental performance. As a nation, we have the world's third-largest "ecological footprint". (Ecological Footprint is a tool that measures the land and water area required to support an individual, business, community or nation, providing for its needs and absorbing its wastes.)

Clearly, Canadians have an ethical responsibility to conserve and preserve the resources of the planet in ways that are more equitable to other nations.

Our ethical obligation surrounding environmental performance also extends to future generations. Indicators show that renewable resources, water, forests, topsoil, and fisheries are under extreme pressure under our current practices, and their productivity is in decline. These resources are the basis for life on this planet, and their exploitation constitutes the primary source of livelihoods for most of the world's population. As human population doubles, and as we seek to improve the welfare of the three billion people who live on less than two dollars a day, pressure on these resources will only increase.

If Canada can reduce its Ecological Footprint, future generations of Canadians will benefit as will people living in other parts of the world. Implementation of an ISO 14001 EMS is one of the best approaches the City of Edmonton can take to promote continuous improvement of its environmental performance.

Commercial Benefits

Many organizations cite "enhanced corporate image" as one of the main benefits of ISO 14001 registration, with enhanced corporate image translating into higher sales, stronger customer satisfaction/loyalty, and greater employee pride.

Enviso (i.e., ISO 14001 registration) will deliver these benefits to the City of Edmonton. Additionally, it will bolster the Edmonton's reputation as an environmental leader in North America – particularly as it relates to our leadership in developing, commercializing and providing training in sustainable waste management technologies.

Safety Benefits

In developing the Edmonton's EMS, staff will conduct in-depth reviews of procedures for controlling significant operations, including a review of emergency preparedness and response procedures. Typically, organizations that undergo such reviews are able to identify and implement significant safety improvements.

As well, many of the initiatives we launch to protect the environment will protect our employees. For example, steps to reduce the noise created by our operations, reduce dust from construction activities, or reduce the use of harmful pesticides will each make the workplace safer for our employees.