Case Study – ISO 14001:2015 Readiness Assessment

University of Reading

The University of Reading, ranked in the top 1% in the world, is situated mainly on two campuses: London Road and the main Whiteknights campus which occupies 130 hectares with approximately 200 buildings. The University has approximately 18,000 students and nearly 4,000 members of staff.


Eshcon conducted a Readiness Assessment of the University’s Environmental Management System to help prepare for the certification audit to achieve ISO 14001:2015.


The University has had an Environmental Management System (EMS) in place for a number of years, certified to ISO 14001:2004, and also holds EcoCampus platinum status. There is strong commitment to the EMS, with involvement across the organisation and at all levels.


A lot of work had been done by the Sustainability Team to transition the EMS to the requirements of the new standard. The team wanted reassurance that everything was on track for the upcoming certification audit.


Eshcon conducted a Readiness Assessment with the requirements of the new ISO 14001 standard. It involved reviewing documents, checking records & interviews with staff.


The assessment covered how the EMS was established & managed, rather than operational control. It covered all clauses with significant changes, with specific focus on:

  • Policy & Scope
  • Context of the organisation
  • Compliance obligations
  • Interested parties & communications
  • Addressing Risks & Opportunities
  • Leadership
  • Life cycle perspective
  • Data management & environmental performance (including policy & objectives).


An audit report was compiled showing where good progress had been made. A list of observations or non-conformities highlighted where further work was needed ahead of the certification audit.


In addition to having another set of eyes going over the documentation, the team found it useful in terms of interviewing staff & particularly top management. This allowed them to anticipate what the certification auditors will cover, their approach & type of questioning.


The benefits included:

  • Provide knowledge of the changes required to meet the new ISO 14001:2015 standard
  • Experience of certification audits & the auditors’ approach
  • Ability to interview top management, particularly as an external auditor
  • Provides guidance on where to make changes and how to proceed
  • Reassurance prior to going through the time & expense of certification audits.


“Before our external audit for ISO 14001 recertification we wanted to make sure we’d covered everything that the new standard required. Anya reviewed all the documentation but also interviewed top management. This was particularly useful to help us prepare for the audit & gave us the confidence to proceed.”  

Anna Glue, Sustainability Officer at the University of Reading