18 Feb 2020

Aspects and Impacts: Let’s start here

Every organization needs to consider the aspects of their organization, and the impacts they have on the planet.  Understanding the impacts is critical to the sustainability of the organization, and in the long run, the planet.

Most organizations only consider the impacts of their processes in relation to waste created and materials used.  While these are important, an organization should consider all aspects of their operation and processes before they start a business.  This includes the facilities, people, materials and other elements of their operations.  Once operational, they need to continually evaluate all process to look for improvement.

Many aspects are considered by organizations in order to borrow money to launch a product or service.  This is a good place to start.  Clearly understanding the impacts the organization will have on the local environment and community is a good step toward launching a sustainable business.  Lenders, both private and public, will be more generous lending if they know the organization is considering all three pillars of sustainability; social, environmental and economic.

Generally speaking, recycling an existing structure to a new operational use has less impact than building a new facility.  Applying building technics recommended under Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) and Energy Star, will also reduce environmental impacts, and improve the operational economics.  If new structures are required, considering the site location, building facing direction and proximity to water, public transportation, and workers, will also help the organization conform to LEED and other building Standards.  Local communities will be much more accepting of an organization operating in their community if the proper design considerations are considered before construction is begun.

Once operational, every group in an organization needs to evaluate their processes on a regular basis to determine what improvements can be made to the aspects of the organization, and the impacts of there processes.  Management is accountable for the operation of the organization, but every department needs to be responsible for their processes.  This is not just the manufacturing or production departments, but also sales, marketing, receiving, packaging, shipping and customer services.  Organizations are also responsible for the performance of their products and/or services, and often the potential recycling of products. 

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has established Standards that can be used by an organization to help improve their management system processes and reduce risks.  ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems and ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems can be used separately, or together, to provide guidance in improving an organization’s operations.  Lenders and communities appreciate the value of a well-run organization that understands the aspects of their operations and addresses the impacts.