Celebrating Eshcon’s 15th Anniversary

Celebrating Eshcon’s 15th Anniversary Help me celebrate! 15 years ago, I set up Eshcon to develop and deliver my mission – to make environmental management THE business norm. 2006 seems an age ago now. It’s strange to look back and think about how I, and the business, have developed. Eshcon became full-time in 2012, previously working one day per week. I’ve had a rollercoaster of a ride – learning how to set up and run a business (never done that before), developing new services that clients really value, getting out and about to raise the profile of environmental management to a whole new audience. This is no mean feat seeing as most SMEs don’t last more than five years.   Anniversary party? Of course, I wanted to mark the anniversary. Pre Covid, it would be normal for companies to hold a little soirée - inviting clients, colleagues and partners for drinks and canapés. Parties aren’t really my thing, even if we were allowed to meet in person. I...
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How to Plan Environmental Audits

How to Plan Environmental Audits I was pleased to share my experiences of environmental auditing again recently on a very well attended IEMA webinar. I was joined by Gillian Gibson (Gibson Training), Ben Goodwin (IEMA) and Matthew Goldberg (National Grid). We are all part of IEMA’s Environmental Auditing Committee, a working group of experts ranging from consultants, in-house auditors and UKAS the organisation that oversees certification bodies. We are reviewing the IEMA Register of Environmental Auditors and prepared briefing papers on the value of environmental auditing. The committee has also developed a series of webinars, some for experienced auditors and others for those new to the industry – the latter, the Environmental Auditing 101 series, examines different elements of auditing and the ISO 14001 standard. This, our most recent webinar, was titled ‘Planning, scoping & resourcing for successful audits’. This was obviously a subject of great interest as we had over 500 people join us. Pitfalls of not planning Why should you prepare for an environmental...
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ISO 50001 Gap Analysis

Mind the Gap – are you Ready for ISO 50001? We know that energy efficiency is good for your business – save energy, save money. If you want to have a deeper focus on energy, why not expand your existing ISO 14001 Environmental Management System and get ISO 50001?   What is ISO 50001? With their soaring energy costs, I see that more and more companies are interested in Energy Management Systems (EnMS). The system helps them understand and manage energy consumption and budgets, in a formalised way. It can then be certified to the international standard ISO 50001. But why start from scratch? It’s much easier to build upon an existing management system. All significant management systems standards follow the same ‘high level structure’ so that the core framework for each is the same. This makes it more straight-forward to expand existing systems (e.g. ISO 14001 Environmental Management System or ISO 9001 Quality) to incorporate energy and the requirements of ISO 50001. The cyclic process of the ISO...
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Green business is a growing priority

Green business is a growing priority New research from the Carbon Trust has found that sustainability is becoming more important to large companies as a result of Covid-19. The research into ‘Corporate attitudes towards sustainability’ covered 450 large companies (all over 1,000 staff & >25% more than 5,000) in Germany, France, Mexico, Singapore, Spain and the UK. More of a priority Nearly three-quarters said environmental management is likely to become 'somewhat' or 'significantly’ more important for them as a result of Covid-19. It’s not just those that are thriving. 70% of those experiencing substantial disruption from the pandemic expect sustainability to become somewhat or significantly more important. It is interesting to note that three-quarters of organisations interviewed had been negatively impacted by Covid - 32% significantly and 4% saying it represented an existential threat to their organisation. Other research (e.g. by Capgemini) shows that consumers are also interested more in environmental and social issues – this is true both after the Covid lockdown and in the preceding...
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Avoiding Extinction!

Avoiding Extinction! “Today WE are the asteroid causing many, many species to go extinct simultaneously.” Last night I got round to watching Extinction: The Facts, the latest David Attenborough documentary on the BBC, looking at how humans are affecting the ecosystems and the species on which we depend. This blog summarises some of the key points and briefly quotes the experts interviewed. One million plant and animal species face extinction. It was heart wrenching, to see the damage we’re doing to our beautiful planet. Also really frustrating to think how this is affecting ourselves as well. The programme started with a ranger protecting the last two Northern White Rhinos – a mother and daughter. It’s so sad to think that when they die, that amazing species will be gone forever. While the high-profile species like orangutans and rhinos get the coverage, it’s going to be the small ones that affect us personally most. There are grave impacts for us all – affecting our food, our water and...
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Have you ever been Forest Bathing?

Have you ever been Forest Bathing? Last weekend I had a lovely walk around Heartwood Forest, a site owned & managed by the Woodland Trust. Until 2008, this 347-hectare site in Hertfordshire was just agricultural land, now it makes the largest continuous new native forest in England, with 600,000 native trees planted by volunteers. In addition, there are precious pockets of ancient bluebell woodland, old hedgerows, wildflower meadows, wonderful bird life and open grassland. I spent a couple of hours there, meandering around the trails, enjoying the woodland areas, young & old. It was a pleasure to listen to the birds, watch the squirrels, eat the blackberries, feel the breeze on my face. Forest Bathing At a business meeting recently, I was introduced to the concept of forest bathing. First developed in Japan in the 1980s, ‘shinrin-yoku’ is not about wild swimming in tree-lined ponds (you don’t need to pack your swimsuit), but more about walking in woodland, slowing down and immersing yourself in the forest...
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Why use UKAS accredited certification bodies

Certification - Why you should use UKAS accredited certification bodies You know I often extol the virtues of an Environmental Management System (EMS), using the ISO 14001 standard. It is a great way to manage your impacts & costs, comply with the law & engage with your customers & staff on issues that are important to them. Although you don’t need to get it certified, it is good practice to do so. Externally certification gives validity to the EMS, demonstrates you are serious about the quality of your system & helps identify where to improve. UKAS accredited certification bodies You would bring in auditors from a certification body to do this. 'Cert bodies' may cover a range of standards (ISO 14001, 9001, 27001 etc) and/or industry sectors. Certification bodies are themselves overseen by UKAS, the National Accreditation Body, which is responsible for determining the technical competence & integrity of these organisations. Maybe surprisingly it is not mandatory to use a UKAS accredited certification body, even...
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Using ISO 14001 to go Net Zero

Using ISO 14001 to go Net Zero Net Zero is the new buzzword. With so much more interest in climate change nowadays, from individuals & companies alike, it is not surprising that many businesses are committing to reduce & even neutralise their carbon emissions. The trouble is, most people don’t know where to start. It’s exciting to set the goal, but to achieve it requires a considered approach. Luckily, that’s where ISO 14001 comes in. ISO 14001, the Environmental Management Systems (EMS) standard, offers a formalised framework for identifying your environmental impacts, including climate risks & carbon emissions.   ISO 14001 EMS & Climate Change My latest webinar for IEMA was attended by nearly 200 people. I shared the virtual stage with Marek Bidwell, Nick Blyth of IEMA & also Kirit Patel of DHL Supply Chain, who gave an overview of DHL’s Environmental Management System & approach to risks & opportunities. I spoke about how ISO 14001 can be used to turn climate aspirations into reality. Climate...
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Tell me your Environmental Stories

Tell me your Environmental Stories “Where do your machines go when they die, Daddy?” A talk with his young daughter prompted the MD of medical manufacturing company to start their environmental journey, managing energy, materials & waste – all done through their ISO 14001 Environmental Management System. With the ongoing pandemic, I’m making use of the time I used to spend travelling. Rather than learning a new language or baking sourdough bread, I’m finally getting round to writing my book. It’s all about how, why & when to put in an Environmental Management System.   Do you have environmental stories to share? For my research, I want to speak to businesses, particularly SMEs, who have an ISO 14001 Environmental Management System. Why did they get started? How involved is senior management? Did they use a consultant? How long do staff spend each month? What motivates staff to be part of environmental projects? What’s the weirdest thing found in the audit? Anecdotes & stories are really useful, especially when...
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10 Top Tips for a great Environmental Policy

10 Top Tips for a great Environmental Policy All organisations should have an Environmental Policy. It’s a great way to communicate with customers; particularly in the B2B supply chain, they often ask for the policy & supporting data. The benefits of having a policy include: Shows commitment to good environmental management Embeds the environment into core business practices - finding efficiencies & cost savings, reducing pollution, saving energy & addressing climate change Shows leadership & links to executive responsibility Simply communicates to stakeholders (including staff & customers) Helps drive change & keep up momentum. Your Environmental Policy is often people’s first introduction to your environmental activities. So, remember to make it interesting, relevant and available. But where do you start?   Here are my 10 Top Tips on how to write a great Environmental Policy: The policy is meant for everyone to see, so make sure it's easy to read and understand - not too dry or filled with jargon. Keep it short - one A4 sheet...
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10 Golden Rules of Remote Auditing

10 Golden Rules of Remote Auditing 400 webinar delegates asked for more help With the continued Covid-19 disruption, the use of remote environmental audits is now common place. Remote audits allow organisations to continue with the established audit programme, ensure the EMS works well & staff are properly engaged. This is relevant for internal audits & especially important for third party audits (annual surveillance visits & certification audits). I was recently part of the expert panel on a webinar for IEMA – we gave advice on how to prepare for & conduct remote audits, from the perspective of both auditors & auditees. We had over 400 people on the webinar, with lots of great questions asked. And the feedback was – more help please! So, the panel sat down & wrote a short guide - The 10 Golden Rules of Remote Auditing. Again helping auditors & auditees prepare & get the best out of their audits. The Golden Rules are supported by simple pieces of...
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My Story, My Mission, My Vision

My Story, My Mission, My Vision On this World Environment Day, I wanted to share my story. Much environmental messaging comes across as (slightly) negative – we’ve got to stop doing / reduce / prevent XYZ or it’ll devastating for us / the planet / wildlife / oceans. And yes, this is true. It is important to change. But negativity & fear don’t motivate most people. It can be much more inspiring to focus on the positive… to have something wonderful to aim for. So, I thought I’d share how I got involved in environmental management (My Story), what I’m trying to achieve (My Vision) and how I go about this (My Mission).   My Story My Story begins with me, aged 10, sitting on the floor in front of the TV watching the wonderful David Attenborough’s Life on Earth. This series was so inspirational to me, seeing the beautiful world around us, its diversity & fragility. We are so lucky to live here & benefit from...
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Build Back Better

Build Back Better During the Covid lockdown some positives have come out. Many of us appear more kind & compassionate – people offering to be NHS Volunteers & helping neighbours with food shopping. We consider our health & wellbeing - families cycling down once busy roads & a significant reduction in air pollution (clearer skies with fewer cars & planes). Not just individuals, businesses are making masks & visors for NHS staff, raising money for charities or donating services to local companies or groups in need. Why should we simple return to the 'old ways' as we start to reopen? We have an opportunity now to change things with greater benefits for society, the planet and the economy – to build back better. You may have seen #BuildBackBetter trending. Just think how much better it could be – healthy, clean, just. We will all benefit! This reflects the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – 17 goals to achieve by 2030 for an environmental, social &...
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Jargon Buster

From Access Economy to Zero Carbon – here’s the Jargon Buster Environment A-Z   The environmental industry can seem a little cliquey to the outsider. Maybe we talk in TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms!), abbreviations or just use words that are so outside the sphere of ‘normal people’. For years I have tried to avoid using the term ‘sustainability’ because it immediately turned people off – using ‘environmental’ (even though this is only one of the three elements of sustainability) makes it immediately more understandable. As experts we want to get it right, but we do have to consider our audience. The environmental news site edie has helpfully put together a Jargon Buster. This is a useful tool if you can’t tell the difference between carbon neutral & net zero; can’t get your head around biomimicry or biodiversity; want to get to grips with ISO 14001 & ISO 50001; or to differentiate between supply chain & value chain. This helps you cut through complexity and get straight...
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Remote Auditing Webinar

Remote Auditing Webinar In response to substantial demand & addressing a significant need in the industry, I recently was part of a webinar put on by IEMA on remote environmental auditing. This was for IEMA’s “Adapting to COVID-19” series, helping environmental professionals adapt to new ways of working during the lockdown & beyond. I was part of the panel of experts, reflecting on my experiences of running remote audits – the benefits & pitfalls, plus also how to prepare. The webinar was chaired by Nigel Leehane, an experienced auditor & consultant. Myself & Neal Barker of WSP gave the auditor’s perspective, and we heard from the auditees: Nigel Sagar of Skanska & Matthew Goldberg of National Grid. We were also joined in the Q&A by Paul Greenwood of UKAS.   Remote Auditing - The Key Points The key points I shared, from an auditor’s point of view included: Test the technology – new systems, connectivity, security restrictions. Firstly – technology: Zoom, Teams, facetime, whatsapp. Does it work (for both...
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The Good Life Goals

The Good Life Goals I’ve written before about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aim to achieve an environmental, social & economic balance across the world. The aim is to deliver these 17 goals by 2030. It is important that governments, organisations & businesses all work together, to ensure the wellbeing of our citizens in the medium & long term. But individuals themselves may feel disconnected from the SDGs (& the supporting 169 targets). Enter the Good Life Goals. These have been developed to support the main SDGs, but show how we, our families & friends can make a difference. Our own everyday actions have the power to change the world!   I particularly like the environment & health ones. For each Goal, check out what you could be doing: Goal 13 - Act on Climate Learn about climate solutions Call for more renewable energy in your country Eat more plants and cut down on meat Walk and cycle rather than drive Demand leaders...
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Save Energy when Working from Home

Save Energy when Working from Home With the country battling the Corona virus, many of us are dealing with new ways of working. While I’m sure no-one misses the daily commute, working from home presents its own challenges … & opportunities. Apart of the health & childcare concerns, we’ll also be using more gas & electricity while working from home, so our energy bills will be going up. So, I thought I’d put together some simple tips on saving energy at home whether you’re alone or with the family.   Turn down the heating Over half of a typical home’s fuel bill is for heating & hot water - turning down the heating by just 1oC can save up to £80 per year. Use the programmer to set your heating & hot water to come on when it’s needed & go off when it’s not. Make use of the thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to control the temperature in each room, especially those that are unoccupied (for...
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Remote Auditing

Can Your Environmental Audit be done Remotely? The regular environmental audits are an important part of an Environmental Management System & help to keep an organisation on track in managing its impacts & risks. Usually the audit is done actually on-site, walking around, viewing files, speaking to staff. With many business premises closed down & workers confined to home, you may be concerned about keeping the audit programme up & running. Should you be doing your internal audits? What happens with the annual surveillance visit from the certification body? Rather than everything grinding to a halt, during these challenging times, it’s better to do something & keep up the momentum of your audit programme. Remote audits – which are conducted partially or completely off site, using technology to support the auditor - are now being offered. Who knows, we may find this new way of working may be suitable in the future as well. I can help you prepare for a remote audit.   Logistics &...
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ISO 14001 & the SDGs

ISO 14001 & the SDGs ... Can your EMS save the world? I was pleased to recently deliver a webinar for BSI & IEMA on Using ISO 14001 to support delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. A Trucost report showed SDG alignment generated $233bn in revenue for 13 of the world’s largest companies last year. But wider research by KPMG showed companies are struggling to get boardroom buy-in and PwC found 40% are still not meaningfully engaging with SDGs. There are clearly business opportunities, but do they know how to deliver the Global Goals within the organisation? My webinar examined how using a structured system like ISO 14001, this could be achieved.   UN SDGs - The Global Goals There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals, supported by 169 targets (see my blog for more info). 8 of these SDGs can be directly delivered using an ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS), and 4 indirectly. I discussed the relevant targets for each goal & how they...
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Getting Boardroom Buy-In

Getting Boardroom Buy-In - my report back from edieLive Last week I attended the annual conference & exhibition edieLive at the NEC. It was a great mix of exhibitors, speakers, workshops & general networking. I met with clients & contacts - it’s always nice to have a catch up - plus I met plenty of new people - useful for collaborations, referrals, potential clients & simply learning from others. I also had a busy day in the Energy Efficiency Theatre, chairing & presenting two sessions. Here’s a summary of the main points I covered.   Getting Boardroom Buy-In Many environmental professionals have difficulties engaging with senior management, who may be too busy or simply not interested. So I gave some insights for getting boardroom buy-in. I first asked the simplest of questions - who are you trying to reach? This is Marketing 101 - you have to understand your target audience. I floated some ideas of what the Board wants & what’s important to a typical director. Then,...
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