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.

Environmental Best Practices in Vineyards

The number of vineyards in the United States, and abroad, have grown substantially over the last 20 years.  New technology and controlled stainless steel fermentation processes have improved the product of even relatively small vineyards.  Many of the best vineyards are also focusing on their environmental impacts to ensure sustainability.  They are finding that taking a hard look at some of their processes can reduce negative environmental impacts, and in fact, reduce operating costs. 

Implementing an ISO 14001:2015 based Environmental Management Systems can help a vineyard archive sustainability and reduce operating costs.  It can also get the organization recognized as a responsible business neighbor in the community with happy and proud employees.  It starts with the owner’s decision to implement an environmental management system, then getting all employees aware, and on onboard to help improve operational processes.  

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) address recycling, and water conservation. These are important elements that are common to all vineyards.  One company that was spending over $50,000 a year on recycling, not only reduced their recycling cost, they actually saved over $7,000 a year after introducing a new recycling program as a part of their EMS. The program included 95% of its solid waste, packaging, and recycling.  New approaches to water use and heat exchange were able to reduce water use by over 35%.  Water used in the winemaking process is now processed on site and used in the vineyards, instead of being flushed down the drain. 

An EMS gets organizations to address the environmental aspects of their business and the impact they have taken into consideration the business environment they operate in, the needs of the stakeholders and risks associated with their business. Let us consider the aspect of energy use and the impact it has on the business including the organization’s carbon footprint. Taking the example further installing solar panels on buildings reduces energy operating costs and produces no carbon emissions.   One company was able to use solar for 75% of its energy use. 

QMII, with its 32 plus years of experience, can help a vineyard educate its employees so they are aware of the requirements of the internationally recognized and accepted standard for Environmental Management Systems – ISO 14001. Our course will outline the next steps the vineyard can take to begin implementing an EMS within their business.  We offer introductory environmental management system courses that will help a vineyard conform and/or become certified to the Standard.