# Criteria for assessing Environmental aspects

Discussion in 'ISO 14001:2015 - Environmental Management Systems' started by LindaK, Jan 14, 2020.

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1. ### LindaKMember

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I am trying to figure out what assessment criteria's to use in our environmental aspects register and I need some help.

Let's say I would use “Probability” as one criteria.

I have seen different questions in combination with Probability as a criteria. Ex:

Probability - How Often Does the Aspect Occur?

Probability - How likely is it that the impact will occur?

In one question they talk about probability of the Aspect to occur and in one question the probability of the Impact to occur. Do they mean the same thing? I don’t know how to think when assessing the probability of an impact/aspect. I will give you an example:

Activity: Use of data center suppliers/use of data servers

Aspect: High energy consumption

Impact: Negative environmental impact on air, water and land, (levels depending on choice of energy source)

How could I rate the probability of the aspect or impact in this case? The probability of the aspect would be 100% in my mind since the probability that we will have data servers running 24/7, using energy, is a fact. Should I think differently? Or Can I rate the probability of environmental Impact in any way and if so how?

Would really appreciate some help since I am a bit stuck on how to think regarding the evaluation of the aspects.

Thank you!

Linda

2. ### Andy NicholsModeratorStaff Member

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3. ### LindaKMember

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Thanks for the link Andy!

The probability is something that I have seen in many examples as a criteria to assess the aspects. I am trying to figure out what criterias to use in my register and I want to choose criterias that I think is relevant and applicable for all aspects. I was thinking about using probability but got stuck in how to assess based on that criteria. I looked att the example in the link and thought about trying that model of Severity and Likelihood. But I have the same trouble with Likelihood....how to think? Likelihood of what? Lets say for Office paper waste or Data servers high energy consumption.

Or do you have other example of relevant criterias to use that can be applied to both negative and positive Environmental aspects?

Today in the register we have Consequense x Frequency = Significance but I am not a fan..probably due to that I am not sure how to use these for assessing either =)

4. ### Andy NicholsModeratorStaff Member

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Well, yes. And some people try to make these things harder than they actually are. ISO 14001 "experts" try to make rocket science out of it. So you think you need them to help. Since the standard doesn't actually use the word "probability" I can assure you it's NOT what is required.

As far as aspects go - have you determined what your aspects are? Bring them here and let's step through this together and for the benefit of others.

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5. ### LindaKMember

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When I started working with this we already had a register so I have been working with that...changing it a bit after a couple of reviews, removing some, adding some etc. The list of aspects is longer but here are some of the aspects listed:

• Choice of materials and components
• Data center (servers etc) - energy consumption
• General office waste
• Electronic waste
• Product and packaging waste
• Product transportation
• Transport from suppliers
• Chemicals
• Business travel - Air
• Business travel - Car
• Field Engineers - maintenance and installation (travelling by car)
• Power consumption of products in the field
• "Company name" Forest (Positive aspect - Planting of trees)

6. ### Andy NicholsModeratorStaff Member

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And what is it you do? As a business? Product or service or combination?

7. ### LindaKMember

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We develop and sell electronic equipment for the public transport sector. We sell mainly hardware products but also services and software (in combination with the products). The production of the products is outsourced.

8. ### Andy NicholsModeratorStaff Member

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I'd suggest that your environmental aspects are too many for what your describe. You should revisit the list.

9. ### LindaKMember

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Oh really? And the list is even a bit longer =)

10. ### Andy NicholsModeratorStaff Member

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As I've always looked at determining aspects, it's like standing in the parking lot and imagining the forms of "streams" which are output from the building (or services) which can affect the environment. So, some of your are accurate - waste paper or plastics, for example. But how significant is that? Ton(nes)? Mostly recycled, so the impacts are low. Take another look at the aspects. Is the transportation so environmentally damaging ?

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11. ### LindaKMember

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I understand, but we don't really have anything that is really really environmental damaging but I still need to have a register and criterias to define the significant ones. (the transport from supplier to us was something that the auditor thought we should add during the last audit)
Today we have 4 significant aspects which has to do with Business travel by air, Field engineers driving cars/vans everyday, power consumption of our installed products and one positive aspects which is basically our overall business that promotes green mobility and the fact that we contribute to more people using public transport.
But even though we have 4 significant aspects there hasn't been a definition of how these has been selected. Thats one of the reasons to why I started to look at the criterias we use to evaluate the aspects and I can't really get my head around how to evaluate them. So I wanted to change the criterias to be able to evaluate the aspects easier and then be able to calculate/determine the significant ones.

12. ### tony sWell-Known Member

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When determining the environmental aspects that have or can have significant environmental impacts, I keep myself away from criteria that confuse and lead to subjective decisions. Like in FMEA, the use of threshold values from the combination of 2 or more criteria (e.g. severity, occurrence, detection) to identify those that organizations should focus their efforts was already discouraged.

To determine significant environmental aspects, I simply subject each identified aspect to the following questions:
1. Is the impact of the environmental aspect covered by legal and/or other requirements?
2. Will the emergency services be involved if the impact resulted to emergency situations such as accidental releases?
3. Is there a potential for complaints pertaining to the organization’s contribution to the impact?
Each posted question demands a “Yes” or “No” answer. The environmental aspect becomes significant if any of the questions produces a “Yes” answer.

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13. ### Andy NicholsModeratorStaff Member

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Time to review and redefine, I believe.

14. ### Balaji RajaramanNew Member

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Severity, Scale, Probability and Detection are the usual parameters used. Some people use "Duration" instead of "Detection" as the duration of release of any emission or effluent decides the significance of the impact.

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15. ### NISHITH NEEMAMember

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I understand, but we don't really have anything that is really really environmental damaging but I still need to have a register and criterias to define the significant ones. (the transport from supplier to us was something that the auditor thought we should add during the last audit)
Today we have 4 significant aspects which has to do with Business travel by air, Field engineers driving cars/vans everyday, power consumption of our installed products and one positive aspects which is basically our overall business that promotes green mobility and the fact that we contribute to more people using public transport.
But even though we have 4 significant aspects there hasn't been a definition of how these has been selected. Thats one of the reasons to why I started to look at the criterias we use to evaluate the aspects and I can't really get my head around how to evaluate them. So I wanted to change the criterias to be able to evaluate the aspects easier and then be able to calculate/determine the significant ones.

Mr.LindaK You have questions
Related to scope of audit, I undersand that you are from service field and the field travel of Engineer is under your defined scope then you have to include the travel part in your AspectImpact register. If you dont start from travel journey then you don't need to consider.
Method of Evaluating the Aspect Impact is to first start with the activity which has a impact on environment, against this activity find Aspect (the cause) of the activity that will occur, now find the (effect) Impact this cause will lead to.
The following example will explain it
Activity: Starting of Engine
Aspect: Smoke generation
Fuel consumption
Impact:Air pollution (AP)
Resources depletion (RD)
Now evaluate this impact on SSPD (Scale, Severity,Probability, Duration)
A) Scale of impact (SC):
a) Limited to Work Station 1
b) Limited to Department 2
c) Affecting other Departments 3
d) Affecting Full Factory 4
e) Affecting Outside Factory 5
B) Severity of Impact (SER):
a) Negligible impact on environment 1
b) Low Impact on Environment 2
c) Moderate impact on the environmnet 3
d) High Impact 4
e) Leathal impact on the environment 5
C) Probability of Occurrence (PRO):
a) Negligible (More than a year) 1
b) Low (Once in 6 to 12 months) 2
c) Medium (Once in 3 to 6 months) 3
d) High (Once or more than once in
1 month to 3 months, but not occurring daily ) 4
e) Very High (Daily - Continuous) 5
D) Duration/Control Time of impact (DUR/CON.):
a) Lasting more than 24 hours 5
b) Lasting between 12 hours to 24 hours 4
c) Lasting between 6 hours to 12 hours 3
d) Lasting between 3 hours to 6 hours 2
e) Lasting less than 3 hours 1
Significant Impact = Scale X Severity X Probability X Duration
Based on the product and criteia definition Significance of Impact (Significant or Non significant) will be decided.

16. ### tony sWell-Known Member

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Let's try. If the aspect is "smoke generation" that will have an impact of "air pollution", then (based on my analysis): SC=5; SER=2; PRO=5; DUR=1; Significant Impact=50. So, what does 50 mean? Is it significant or not?

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