The Benefits of Environmental Auditing

(By Dr. Ben Boardman, Partner – London, UK)

Why should you undertake an environmental audit?

Having conducted over 100 environmental audits in 18 countries for a variety of sectors and having set up and managed the environmental audit program for an 11-billion-dollar company, I have seen first-hand how they can add genuine value to an organisation.

‘An audit is an excellent way of identifying environmental risks and liabilities, ensuring legislative compliance and enabling informed decision making.’

The purpose of an audit is to provide an independent, objective opinion that can be relied on by stakeholders. There are many different types of environmental audit, such as an Environmental Management System (EMS) performance audit, a regulatory compliance audit, a supplier or contractor audit, or a specific ‘issue audit’ such as for hazardous materials or waste management.

Environmental auditing has a critical role to play in ensuring that organisations fulfil their policy commitments to environmental management and performance. Audits can provide key information to senior management on areas of risk, and progress towards strategic objectives and targets. Effective auditing can identify regulatory non-compliance and identify areas of poor management and control, which otherwise may result in environmental incidents and damage, operational disruption, costs, damage to reputation and prosecution.

As well as identifying potential risks, if undertaken properly, environmental audits can and often highlight potentially significant operational efficiencies and cost savings.

‘We believe that the style and scope of an audit should be tailored to the client’s individual needs and priorities. We work seamlessly with front line staff and senior management, throughout the audit process, to identify important environmental issues and provide robust cost-effective recommendations to solve them.’

Positive audit findings can confirm to stakeholders that an organisation is exercising effective environmental management and governance and is genuinely pursuing a positive environmental agenda. Effective audits can lead to greater transparency, enhanced stakeholder relationships and stronger brand value.

Informing-Decision-MakersInforming decision makers and senior management on environmental
management and performance.
Identifying-assessing-environmental-risksIdentifying and assessing environmental risks and known or potential
sources of environmental liability.
Identifying-non-compliance-legal-requirementsIdentifying non-compliance with legal requirements or contractual
commitments and identifying weaknesses in environmental management
processes, mitigation measures and controls, before they lead to an
incident, down-time, and costs
.
Raising-organisational-culture-awarenessRaising the organisational culture and awareness of relevant
environmental issues and encouraging innovation and continual
improvement.
Identifying-oportunities-improvementIdentifying opportunities for improvement in environmental
management and performance, which could lead to increased efficiencies
and cost savings.
Transparent-Reporting-PerformanceDemonstrating greater transparent reporting of performance,
enhanced stakeholder (e.g., investor, customer, regulator)
relationships and strengthening brand value.

How to realise the benefits:

To realise the range of benefits, leaders and managers need to ensure that they have competent and experienced individuals effectively planning, managing, and undertaking environmental audits that focus on key issues and priorities. It is critical that auditing is adequately resourced, supported, and communicated by senior management, who appreciate that environmental auditing contributes to overall organisational performance. Senior management should facilitate audits of their operations at an appropriate frequency, which delivers the optimal value.

WKC Group have conducted environmental audits around the world and have numerous Lead ISO 14001 Environmental Auditors on the team. We bring a fresh, independent perspective and conduct regulatory reviews to ensure that tailored audit checklists are developed from the most recent and up to date requirements. We also recommend best practices and lessons learned from across the industry / sector. We believe that the style and scope of an audit should be tailored to the client’s individual needs and priorities. We work with front line staff and senior management, throughout the audit process, to identify important environmental issues and provide robust cost-effective recommendations to solve them.

Dr. Ben Boardman
Service Lead UK +44(0)207 975 1462 ben.boardman@wkcgroup.com