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We are pleased to announce that our Environmental Management System (EMS) has held ISO 14001 certification for a full decade.

We believe Lyons Davidson was the first law firm in the UK to achieve a certified environmental management system. Over the last decade, we have monitored all our environmental impacts and taken steps to reduce them wherever possible. The system was introduced because of our belief that it was the responsible thing to do. It has endured and grown thanks to the enthusiasm of our staff.

The EMS audit took place in November, with no non-conformances or observations raised and while on site, the auditor praised us for taking “an ambitious yet pragmatic approach to managing aspects and impacts.” This is a brilliant result, which will stand us in good stead for the year ahead and the run up to re-certification under the new ISO 14001 certification standard in November 2017.

This milestone highlights our top-level management commitment to continually improve our EMS and consistently reduce our impact on the environment. It also demonstrates that positive staff engagement is vital for our EMS to function correctly and deliver a good result in our audits.

Our ISO 14001 certification journey so far

Our ISO 14001 journey over the past decade has resulted in changes to our buildings and practices with the aim of reducing our environmental impact. Key developments include the following areas:

  • Lighting
    • Old fluorescent lighting tubes have been replaced with more energy efficient lamps;
    • Motion-activated lighting has been introduced;
    • LED lighting has been installed in some common areas.
  • Paper
    • We have reduced our paper consumption through use of electronic systems;
    • We removed individual desk printers, and introduced central print and scanning facilities.
  •  Heating and cooling
    • We have installed more efficient boilers, better thermal insulation, glazing and software-operated building systems, together with procedures for monitoring and maintaining the temperature in our offices;
    • Harmful gasses used in our cooling systems have been gradually replaced with more environmentally friendly options.
  • Procurement
    • We take into account the green credentials of organisations when buying goods and services;
    • Our computer equipment has been replaced with the most energy efficient options. Old-style CRT monitors have all been replaced with flat screens;
    • Our office consumables are also sourced from suppliers with ISO 14001 certification;
    • Our tea-room appliances are energy efficient and all tea, coffee and sugar in our offices is from Fairtrade sources.
  • Waste
    • Our recycling streams have been improved to include all IT equipment, print toners, paper and glass;
    • Furniture we no longer need is given to charity;
    • Employees segregate waste correctly, instead of using personal waste bins;
    • We now send more of our waste to be recycled than we send to landfill.
  • Travel
    • Most of our buildings now have bicycle storage and showers to promote active transport;
    • Our train first policy has been reinforced by the uptake of the Trainline’s business travel facility;
    • We have cut the number of business journeys by improving video and teleconferencing facilities;
    • Employees are encouraged to use sustainable modes of transport through measures such as Green Friday, adult cycle lessons, awareness campaigns and Dr Bike services.

The future of the system

The revised ISO 14001 : 2015 was published in September 2015 and we will begin our transition to the updated standard from January 2017. This will provide a consistent foundation for our EMS for the next ten years.

The key changes to the standard include:

  • Increased focus on transparency and accountability in environmental management issues and performance;
  • Strengthening the relationship between environmental performance and the strategic direction of the company;
  • Greater detail on environmental objectives;
  • Integration of our EMS into the company’s business processes;
  • Enhanced leadership and communication requirement.

In order to transition successfully, we will be taking a fresh look at our EMS to understand the impact of key changes and how we will implement them. The new requirements on leadership and lifetime environmental performance will be implemented, and we will also review any identified opportunities based on the key changes of the standard.

For more information on any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Matt Vernon: [email protected]