ISO 14001 CERTIFICATION - A CASE STUDY
By Richard O’Connor, Director, EH&S, ABB Automation Inc.
In December 1998, ABB Automation Inc. achieved ISO 14001 certification at its Columbus, Ohio
plant. The experience confirmed our impression that achieving certification requires a considerable
commitment. However, it also convinced us that business organizations interested in improving the
environment should seriously consider making a similar commitment.
This case study outlines ABB’s ISO 14001 implementation project, along with business rea-
sons for approving the project. It also offers first hand advice that should prove useful to busi-
nesses planning for ISO 14001 certification.
The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation founded in
1947 to promote the development of international manufacturing, trade and communication stan-
dards. There are two types of standards: specification and guidance. In the 14000 series of stan-
dards, ISO 14001 is the only specification standard. The rest are considered guidance standards.
A specification standard “contains only those requirements that may be objectively audited for
certification purposes.” A guidance standard “provides guidance on the development and imple-
mentation of environmental management systems (EMS) and principles, and their coordination
with other management systems.” Businesses are not certified to ISO 14000 as a series. They are
certified to ISO 14001, the standard that specifies the requirements for an EMS.
Many people are familiar with the widely accepted ISO 9000 series of quality system stan-
dards. ABB’s ISO 9001 experience - our Columbus plant achieved ISO 9001 certification in 1994 -
and the resulting documentation greatly helped us plan and execute our project for implementing an
During 1997, there was considerable discussion at ABB concerning potential benefits and draw-
backs of seeking ISO 14001 certification. The final decision to move a