In September 2013, MTD’s Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) was certified by the ISO 14001:2004 standard. At the time of certification, MTD was the sixth transit agency in the country to achieve ISO 14001:2004 certification and the first in the state of Illinois.
We’ve explained what this certification means, so now we’re taking the opportunity to remind you of MTD’s enhanced commitment thanks to the certification.
MTD’s ISO 14001:2004 certification is “good” for three years. Part of the certification agreement is annual auditing to ensure we are still adhering to the International Standard. Because the ESMS MTD created had never been certified, MTD’s ESMS Team underwent three audits last year:
- Preliminary Assessment in March 2013: Preparation for Stage 1 Assessment, auditor familiarized himself with MTD’s system and fenceline
- Stage 1 Assessment in April 2013: Documentation review and planning, main goal is to see how effective our system is in all 17 sections of the Standard
- Stage 2 Assessment in July 2013: Auditor ensures MTD’s policies, objectives, programs, and procedures are effectively put into practice, and that there is a planned systematic approach for improvement, also meets with senior management
For years two and three, MTD will only undergo one audit per year. We are scheduled for Surveillance Audits in July 2014 and July 2015. The first Surveillance Audit is next week!
Surveillance Audits confirm that MTD’s approved management system continues to be maintained, be in operation, and deliver continual improvements. The auditor will also consider implications of changes to our system and consider whether we continue to meet the certification requirements.
In other words, these annual audits keep the District’s environmental commitment (which includes monitoring, measurement, goal setting, training, and more) in a constant state of improvement.
After MTD maintains our ISO 14001:2004 certification for three years, in July 2016, we will need to go through Certificate Renewal. It will be the same process that we went through in 2013 (detailed above) but likely with a new auditor so we can continue to challenge ourselves.
Each audit lasts at least two full days. After each audit, MTD receives an audit report noting any findings that need to be addressed. The report findings are also made available to MTD’s Board of Trustees.
The audit process allows MTD to maintain continual improvement. If we loosen our grip or ignore the ESMS at all, our certification is at risk. The auditor can take the certification away after a surveillance audit, or fail to renew the certification at a Certificate Renewal audit. Our credibility, commitment to sustainability, and all the horn tooting we do, would be threatened.
It is possible for an agency to implement an ESMS without certifying it to the standard. But at MTD, we value the strict requirements that come with certification and the opportunity to have an outside expert audit our system.