What is an environmental audit?

Environmental audits are tools which can quantify an organisational environmental performance and position.



What are the different types of environmental audits?

There are three main types of audits which are environmental compliance audits, environmental management audits to verify whether an organisation meets its stated objectives, and, functional environmental audits such as for water and electricity.



What are their benefits?

Benefits vary depending on the objectives and scope of the audit.  Environmental auditing benefits include:

Organisations understand how to meet their legal requirements and other requirements;

Meeting specific statutory reporting requirements;

Organisations can demonstrate they are environmentally responsible;

Organisations can demonstrate they meet the requirements of their environmental policy;

Understanding environmental interactions of products, services and activities, and managing environmental risks;

Understanding how to develop and implement a more effective ISO 14001 EMS; and

Organisations can understand how they can improve environmental performance and save money.


Who should complete an environmental audit?

ISO 19011:2012 Guidelines for auditing management systems provides information regarding the choice of Environmental Auditor.  Environmental Auditors should have personal attributes, such as ethics, open-mindedness, perceptiveness and tact.  They should understand audit principles, procedures and techniques, as well as having gained experience through conducting audits.  They should know the subject matter they are auditing against and how this applies to different organisations. 

Audit Team Leaders should be able to plan and resource effectively, have good communication and leadership skills.  Preferably Environmental Auditors should complete training and have attained an appropriate level of education. A good Auditor should have adequate skills and experience.

When seeking an external Auditor consideration could be given to the skills outlined above. Exemplar Global Environmental Auditors have completed training (5 days) and have met a minimum certification standard.  Depending on the auditing requirements consideration could be given to determining whether the Auditor needs to be certified by additional organisations (e.g. EPA appointed Environmental Auditors).