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What are Key Performance Indicators?

Key performance indicators (KPI) are the measurement tools, which assists organizations in defining and measuring their progress towards their EMS goals. KPI‟s are considered a critical element in measuring the success of an organization or a particular business activity. KPI‟s are only successful when the organization has a defined scope. The question you are asking is what features of the process do we need to monitor or adjust to meet the EMS requirements that your organization defined in the scope?

How does your organization define key performance indicators in ISO 14001?

Identifying environmental aspects and their impacts is the most critical step of adopting ISO 14001. After your organization has identified its environmental aspects, you need to monitor and control them for your EMS. This is where KPI for your EMS are useful. These indicators will allow you to monitor, control and improve any nonconformities.

Examples of environmental aspects within an organization can be as simple as decreasing paper use within an office setting or on a larger scale reducing chemical waste and properly disposing of chemicals which may have a severe negative effect on the environment.

What KPI Do You Need for Your ISO 14001 Management System?

KPI measures need to be selected carefully for each process within your organization. As each organization is different, these measures will vary. Overall, they are a way to find nonconformances and make continual improvements. KPIs are quantifiably based on valid data and standards. Most organizations will have their own set of metrics and measurements, but this can take organizations a long time to identify. Once you have identified your KPIs it is important to use the same measurements over time to accumulate long term data to better understand your EMS. Although KPI will vary depending on your organization there are some typical measures that we will detail below that can help you improve your EMS.

Natural Resources

  • Water, electricity, and gas usage
  • Paper

Emissions and Waste

  • Pollutant parts per million measures
  • Weight to landfill


  • Number of actual and potential incidents
  • Time lost

Proactive Measures

  • Risk reduction measures implemented
  • Environmental audit scores



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