ISO14000 Standards and the US Construction Industry
Construction activities generate a myriad of negative effects on the environment. ISO 14000, the series of environmental management standards released by the International Organization for Standardization in 1996, has been introduced as a tool that can aid in reducing these impacts. The implementation of these standards is focused on the establishment of an environmental management system (EMS) that can guide an organization toward achieving its own environmental goals. Certification for the ISO 14001 standard has been successfully implemented at an international level, mostly in Europe and Asia. Different types of companies have achieved ISO 14000 certification, including those performing construction work. However, up until 2002, only one construction group has received certification for its subsidiaries. Benefits such as minimization of environmental impacts, marketing opportunities, and cost savings have been identified. Some parties, however, argue about the standards applicability in the US construction industry, stating that ISO 14000 is not economically feasible and that significant or proven environmental benefits cannot be associated with the standards usage. Therefore, the main goal of this article is to analyze ISO 14000 standards and their current status in the US construction industry, identifying advantages and setbacks of the application of this EMS in the organizational structures of US construction firms. The information is based on a literature search and a case study of a construction contracting firm certi- fied for the standards. The article concludes that the positive aspects of certification outweigh the negative aspects and recommends added government support and the combined use of ISO 14000 with other environmental systems and matrices.
c1 Project Engineer, DPR Construction, Inc., 10900 Nuckols Road, Suite 200, Richmond, VA 23060; (fax) 804–273–0579; (e-mail) email@example.com.