Wisconsin Green Tier – Benefits and Risks to Wisconsin Business

The following is a brief discussion of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Green Tier program and some of the benefits it can have for business in Wisconsin and those doing business with WDNR Green Tier companies. The article also discusses some of the potential risks to these same business and WDNR that may result from stakeholders loosing confidence it what the Green Tier logo is supposed to mean.

Benefits to Business

A few months age I met with Pat Stevens who had just begun his new position as the Administrator of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Air and Waste. I was particularly interested in the potential changes to the Green Tier Program with a new administration and WDNR Secretary. During our discussions, Pat said he believed the new secretary and the new administration would continue to support and try to expand the Green Tier Program. One of the areas we explored was how Wisconsin businesses, in general, perceive the program and how the WDNR can gain broader acceptance with businesses by making some improvements.

I told Pat my experience had been that many potential Green Tier participants believe the benefits of the program do not justify the investment of effort needed to apply to the WDNR and become accepted into the program. I told him that we have also heard from some businesses that they perceive Green Tier participation as potentially increasing the risk of regulatory agency oversight and fines rather than reducing burdensome regulatory oversight.

Pat and I discussed a few ideas about how the WDNR can generate interest in the program through incentives, such as streamlined air emission construction permits for new or modified major sources and reduced reporting burdens. Within the last several weeks I have been pleased to see that a Tier 2 contract with Serigraph and correspondence with 3M in Prairie Du Chien ,WI included provisions for streamlined air permitting as Pat and I had discussed. I believe this is a move in the right direction and should help improve businesses perception of the potential benefits of Green Tier program.

Risks to Business and WDNR (Green Wash)

Pat and I also discuss what I perceive as significant potential risk to business participating in the Green Tier program and WDNR itself. The risk is that the process used by WDNR to confirm the existence of an ISO 14001 EMS may not be sufficiently robust to prevent some organizations acceptance into the program that are not really committed to the effective operations of the EMS. These participants want to be able to fly the Green Tier flag as evidence they are superior environmental performers but they are not actually committed to continual environmental performance improvement through an EMS.

This issue is particularly important for Tier 2 participants who may be receiving significant benefits under the green tier contracts. An example of this potential risk can be seen in WDNR acceptance of Serigraphs claim to be ISO 14001 “certified” as the basis for acceptance in to the Green Tier Program.

Although Serigraph has claimed to be certified to ISO14001 a examination of credentials of the Certification Body (Verysis, LLC) that issued the ISO 14001:2004 Certificate to Serigraph indicates that this organizations is not accredited by ANAB (the internationally recognized accreditation body in the USA) or any other International Accreditation Forum member. The accreditation of Verysis issued by an organization with a similar name “International Accreditation Board”  but does not reference any internationally recognized critera used to evaluate Verisys Registrars.

Here in the USA ANAB accredited ISO 14001 registrars undergo and extensive evaluation of their certification and audit process to ensure that they conform to the requirements of ISO/IEC 17021 Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems. There is no evidence that Verysis has undergone such an assessment.

The Wisconsin Statute for the Green Tier program describes what WDNR needs to consider when determining the acceptability of Green Tier audit in § 299.83 (7a) as follows:

7m)?Environmental auditors. The department may not approve an outside environmental auditor for the purposes of sub. (3) (d) 4. or (5) (c) 2. unless the outside environmental auditor is accredited by an accreditation body that complies with standards of the International Organization for Standardization for accreditation bodies or meets criteria concerning education, training, experience, and performance that the department determines are equivalent to the criteria in the standards and guidance of the International Organization for Standardization for entities providing audit and certification of environmental management systems.

The basic problem is that unless WDNR does at good job of reviewing the qualifications and objectivity of the auditors performing Green Tier audits there is a significant risk that at some point unqualified auditors will be performing Green Tier audits and issuing certificates of conformance to organizations that do not deserve them. If these Green Tier participants are later found to not be the superior performers that WDNR claimed them to be there is significant potential for stakeholders to loose confidence in the meaning of the Green Tier logo. This would result in embarrassing times for both the WDNR and all the other Green Tier participants.

I am interested in your feedback on this issue. Do you think additonal incentives are need to increase Green Tier participation and is WDNR doing a good job of screening who should be admited to the Green Tier program. Please post a comment if you are so inclined.

Kevin Lehner, EMS-LA

President ECSI

ISO 14031 – Environmental Performance

I have not found ISO 14031 very useful in providing guidance on measuring environmental performance and the fact that it has not been revised or updated in over 12 years suggest that others do not find great value in it either. Measurement of environmental performance is quite subjective and complicated. For example, which organization is the better environmental performer? The one that emits 100 tons per year (TPY) of CO2 of the one that emits 100000 TPY. What if these organizations are in different industries different sizes and different climates?

To begin to be meaningful the emissions need to be normalized. A simple normalized metric might be tons of CO2 per unit of production. This performance metric could also consider atmospheric influences like very cold or hot temperatures that require more energy use or base load emissions when production is either abnormally high or low. The normalizing performance calculation can become quit complex as it matures.

Once normalized a comparison of similar industries can provide valuable information about performance. Unfortunately it is difficult to get normalized performance information of similar industries because the metrics used by different companies are rarely the same.

That’s why certification/registration to ISO 14001 can be a better indicator of an organizations overall environmental performance. If the certifying auditors are doing their job they will insist on the organizations demonstrating commitment to systematically improving environmental performance. They will also expect to see evidence of actual (measurable) environmental performance improvement.

Certification to ISO 14001 is still the best way to ensure that an organization with which you desire some kind of relationship (you want to buy their stock or their product) is committed to improving environmental performance and is actively working to achieve better performance.

Air Pollution Control Equipment – What ISO 14001 Requires

Operation and maintenance of air pollution control equipment is often a source of the nonconformities we discover while performing both ISO 14001 EMS audits and Environmental Regulatory Compliance audits.

Clause 4.5.1 Monitoring and Measurement of ISO 14001 requires that organizations monitor and measure key characteristics of their environmental performance. An organization’s ability to control air pollution is one of these key performance characteristics, and the effectiveness of the organization’s air pollution control equipment is closely linked to this characteristic. Many of the legal requirements for air pollution control, including National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), also compel the proper operation and maintenance of pollution control devices.

Our audit experience shows that 50 percent or more of the organizations we audit are not as familiar with their air pollution control equipment as they could be, and as a result, are unable to show evidence during an audit that the equipment is, indeed, being operated and maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

A simple example would be a paint booth that uses filters to control the particulate emissions from the painting operations. Booth manufacturers often specify a control efficiency of the booth, which is defined as the percentage of the particulate matter removed by the filters in the boot when the booth is being operated properly. Paint booth manufacturers also specify the types of filters to be used and the range of pressure drop across the filters, to ensure that the required control efficiency (98% as an example) is being achieved. During audits of paint booths, we often find that either the filters are not rated appropriately or the pressure drop across the filters is not being measured or recorded correctly.

A related issue is the ISO requirement (also Clause 4.5.1) that the instruments used to measure performance must be periodically calibrated. We find that pressure drop manometers or Magnehelic gauges are often not on a preventive maintenance schedule for calibration and/or replacement. Including the inspection of the pollution control equipment on a preventive maintenance schedule will help to ensure proper operation and maintenance of the equipment. As a risk management strategy, the ISO 14001 internal audit program should include a review of evidence that the scheduled maintenance has been performed and that the equipment is operating correctly.

If we can assist you in preparing for your ISO 14001 EMS audits and/or your Environmental Regulatory Compliance audits, or if you have any comments, questions, or concerns regarding your air pollution control equipment, please feel free to call us, at 920-648-4134, or e-mail us, at kalehner@envcompsys.com.

ISO 14001 Registration – How it Works

The process of becoming registered to ISO 14001 can be confusing. Common questions we are asked include the following:

 – Who is qualified to issue ISO 14001 Registration Certificates?

 – Who is qualified to perform the registration audits?

 – How long is a certificate good and what is the registration process?

These are a few common questions asked by organizations considering implementing an EMS which will be explained here.

What Organizations are Qualified to Issue ISO 14001 Certifications?

Authority to issue internationally recognized ISO 14001 certificates are linked to the International Accreditation Forum. The International Accreditation Forum, Inc. (IAF) is the world association of Conformity Assessment Accreditation Bodies and other bodies interested in conformity assessment in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel and other similar programs of conformity assessment. Its primary function is to develop a single worldwide program of conformity assessment which reduces risk for a business and its customers by assuring them that accredited certificates may be relied upon. IAF members accredit certification or registration bodies that issue certificates attesting that an organization’s management, products or personnel comply with a specified standard (called conformity assessment).

In the United States ANAB is the main accrediting body for the registrars who actually issue the ISO 14001 Certificates. ANAB is a member of the International Accreditation Forum and a signatory of the IAF multilateral cooperative arrangements (MLAs) for QMS and EMS. Through the IAF MLAs and the Multilateral Cooperative Accreditation Arrangement, ANAB cooperates with other accreditation bodies around the world to provide value to its accredited CBs and their clients, ensuring that accredited certificates are recognized nationally and internationally. The global conformity assessment system ensures confidence and reduces risk for customers engaging in trade worldwide.
At last count ANAB had accredited 45 organizations (28 located in the USA) to issue ISO 14001 registration Certificates.

Registrars have been accredited to issue ISO 14001 certificates by ANAB. ANAB evaluates each registrar against the requirements ISO/IEC 17021 Conformity Assessment – Requirements for Bodies Providing Audit and Certification of Management Systems when determining if the registar should be authorized to issue ISO 14001 Certificates. Accredited registrars hire competent auditors to perform the registration audits and provide a record of the evidence reviewed as part of the auditor’s recommendation for or against registration of the organizations being audited.

Which Individuals are Qualified to Perform ISO 14001 Registration Audits for Registrars?

One of the requirements of ISO 17021 which must be met by all registrars is that the auditors performing audits on behalf of the registrar are competent to do so.

7.2.5 The certification body shall have a process to achieve and demonstrate effective auditing skills, including the use of auditors and audit team leaders possessing generic auditing skills and knowledge, as well as skills and knowledge appropriate for auditing in specific technical areas. This process shall be defined in documented requirements drawn up in accordance with the relevant guidance provided in ISO 19011.

ISO 19011 is specific guidance for registrars on how to establish audit programs and determine auditor competence.

Auditors can demonstrate they have achieved a level competence through personal certification by RABQSA International which is itself accredited by JAZ-ANZ. However, this certification alone is not sufficient evidence to ANAB that auditors working for registrars are competent to perform audits. In addition the registrar must, at a minimum observe the auditor’s performance during an actual audit before they are deemed competent by the registrar.

Figure 1 shows the links between the various organizations making up the registration process.



How is the ISO 14001 Registration Process Performed?

ISO 14001 Certificates are good for a period of three years assuming the organization successfully completes a series of surveillance audits during that three year period. The registration process begins with a documentation review performed by the auditor to determine if the organization has addressed all the elements of the ISO 14001 Standard. The outcome of the document review can be a recommendation by the auditor to proceed to the registration audit process or a recommendation to delay the registration process until the organization has addressed deficiencies identified by the auditor during the Document Review.

The registration audit begins with what is often referred to as a Stage 1 assessment. The lead auditor visits the site for a day or so to review the organization’s environmental aspects and verify conformance with some of the basic ISO 14001 requirements that could not be verified during the Document Review. The purpose of the Stage 1 audit is also to provide the auditor with additional information about the facility to enable them to prepare a plan for the Stage 2 assessment. The Stage 1 audit is also is a final check on the readiness of the organizations to undergo the Stage 2 Assessment.

The Stage 2 assessment is of longer duration (several auditors on site for several days) than the Stage 1 assessment this is a deeper drilling into the organization’s EMS that is performed in either the Document Review or the Stage 1 Assessment. The Stage 2  Assessment is where the audit team collects and records the evidence of the organization’s conformance to the requirements of ISO 14001 and the organization’s own EMS. This is the evidence that the audit team will submit to the registrar supporting their recommendation for registration.

Successful completion of the registration audit begins three year period that the ISO 14001 certificate is valid. During that three year period the registrar will perform periodic surveillance audits (at least once per year) to confirm that the EMS has sustained effectiveness in the ability of  the organization to continually improve its environmental performance. At the end of the three year period the re-registration assessment is performed which is of similar duration and scope to the original registration audit.