ISO Sustainable Buildings Standards

Sustainable and environmentally friendly buildings are the leading edge in building design today. To achieve a high level of building sustainability in an efficient and effective manner requires the integration of the best management system standards available. Integrated management systems will ensure that we have the capacity to produce more sustainable buildings and ISO 26000 provides a useful set of guidelines.

The initial standards and models that addressed elements of social responsibility (SR) include OHSAS 18001 for Health and Safety and most important ISO 14001, the environmental management standard. The systematic ISO 14001:2004 approach requires that organizations take a hard look at all areas where its activities have an environmental impact.

There are now more than 1 million certified ISO 9001 organizations in 176 countries and 200,000 certified to ISO 14001 in 155 countries. (ISO) With this increased application of ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001, the traditional approach of operating quality, environmental, health, and safety management systems independently began to give way to an integrated approach. The key advantage of the integration of these management systems is the synergy created, resulting in increased efficiency and effectiveness in the management of organizations.

Other related building standards can also be integrated including:

  • ISO/TS 21929-1:2006 Sustainability in Building Construction–Sustainability Indicators
  • ISO 21930:2007 Sustainability in Building Construction–Environmental Declaration of Building Products
  • ISO 16813:2006 Building Environmental Design–Indoor Environment, General Principles
  • ISO 15686-3:2002 Buildings and Constructed Assets–Service Life Planning

The full integration of these ISO standards in building planning, design, construction, use, improvement, maintenance, and eventual demolition. This life cycle needs to be considered in conjunction with society, the environment, and the users/occupants, owners, and builders. There is a standard for each step in the process. These steps are complementary and when aligned they create efficiencies. The issues of gaining input from the community, evaluating the environmental impact, communicating with stakeholders, driving continuous improvement, and tracking corrective and preventive actions at all levels of the project can be supported by the infrastructure of these standards.

These ISO standards can be implemented on a single project or the can be implemented within organizations to create a consistent and seamless supply chain.

Clause 5.3.4 Global Thinking and Local Action in ISO 15392 connects to ISO 26000 when it states, “The building and construction sector is highly important for sustainable development because it has a significant interface with poverty reduction through the basic economic and social services provided in the built environment and the potential opportunities for the poor to be engaged in construction, operation, and design.”

Clause 5.3.2 Continual Improvement in ISO 15392 again makes the connection to ISO 9001 when it states, “This principle encompasses the improvement of all aspects of sustainability related to the built environment including the buildings and other construction works over time. It includes the performance of construction works as well as processes, and addresses means of assessment, verification, monitoring, and communication.”

ISO/FDIS 26000 clause 2.18 states that SR is the “responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its
decisions and activities on society and the environment through transparent and ethical behavior that contributes to sustainable development including health and the welfare of society; takes into account the expectations of stakeholders; is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of
behavior; and is integrated throughout the organization.”

In ISO/FDIS 26000 clause 2.23, sustainable development is considered to be meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Baldrige sees very similarly sustainability as “your organization’s ability to address current business needs and to

As new technologies become more efficient with regard to to environmental and energy issues, we also need to focus on improving how we manage the planning, design, and construction processes. This will translate into sustainability in regard to how effectively and efficiently the planning and building processes are conducted, resulting in saving time and money and ultimately increasing our ability to build more sustainable and environmentally friendly buildings.

Original Article on The GREEN MARKET Blog


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