Ones to watch

Game-changing standards in the race against climate change.

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Reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 is an ambitious task requiring drastic action across the world. ISO standards have long been seen as powerful tools to help organizations and countries implement effective changes to reach this goal, and act as a catalyst for revolutionary new technologies. By detailing international best practice and clear terminologies, they provide the platform from which innovation and excellence can grow.

“International action is key to combat climate change,” says Justin Wilkes, Executive Director of the Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS), which advocates for environmentally friendly technical standards and policies. This year, ECOS is celebrating 20 years of active work, including its strong collaboration with ISO to combat climate change.

“For standards to protect our planet, we need to stand united, ensuring understanding and cooperation across the world. By working together, we can realize the full potential of standards,” he says. “We also need leadership from the standardization community, particularly from ISO – an organization with a broad global influence.”

Whether calculating carbon footprints, improving environmental impact or contributing to the development of new technologies in renewable energy, ISO has thousands of standards that can help shape a sustainable future. Each is developed by groups of experts that bring together a wide range of countries and organizations, such as ECOS.

Below are a few to look out for:

Solar panels.

Green finance

Creating a sustainable future and bringing greenhouse gas emissions down requires significant investment. The recently established technical committee ISO/TC 322, Sustainable finance, is charged with creating standards that help to facilitate a sustainable investment market.

The first of its projects is the upcoming ISO 32210, Framework for sustainable finance: Principles and guidance, and ISO 32220, Sustainable finance – Basic concepts and key initiatives. Together, they will consolidate concepts that exist and agree common terminology and international best practice and guidelines for the industry. This, then, will provide a platform from which organizations involved in sustainable investment can develop their products further and enable more players to enter the market.

These standards will complement the recently published ISO 14097, Greenhouse gas management and related activities – Framework including principles and requirements for assessing and reporting investments and financing activities related to climate change, which helps financiers assess and report on their actions and see the real value of their contribution to climate goals.

The electrical charging point and engine of a Nissan Leaf zero emission car.

Electric vehicles

Electric vehicles (EV) contribute substantially to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but can bring down energy consumption further if they are able to give energy back to the grid, a building or other devices. This so-called bidirectional energy flow allows the vehicle to serve as energy storage, comparable to a large mobile battery. In this way, the vehicle can become the energy supply for a building or send energy directly into the grid when energy demand is high.

The ISO 15118 series of standards facilitates this process by simplifying the charging experience of EV drivers and assisting the grid in dealing with the variability of renewable energy sources.

Hemp fabric sewing.

Eco-friendly textiles 

Providing a common language that explains environmental aspects is essential to reduce the risk of greenwashing and misunderstanding. And no more so than in the textiles industry. The future ISO 5157, Textiles – Environmental aspects – Vocabulary, will help to promote transparency and clarity in a complex industry, to encourage more eco-friendly practices and instil trust in the supply chain and for the consumer.

Refrigerating systems and heat pumps

The ISO 5149 series of standards details the requirements for safety and environmental issues related to refrigerating systems and heat pumps. It is currently being updated to feature more focus on environmentally friendly natural refrigerants.

And not forgetting…

Environmental management 

One of the world’s most widely used standards for an environmental management system, ISO 14001 has helped many organizations reduce waste, pollution and costs, improve efficiencies and increase transparency related to environmental risk management.

ISO has thousands of standards that can help shape a sustainable future.

ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall at Tenjin Central Park, Fukuoka, Japan.

Use of the standard has also enabled organizations to demonstrate lower environmental impacts, thus improving reputation amongst investors, clients and other stakeholders. All of this has contributed to a rise in consumers choosing more environmentally friendly products, thus creating a virtuous circle.

ISO 14001 has also influenced policies at national and regional levels. For example, the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) was updated to feature the standard as the main environmental management system, making the EMAS registration easier for European organizations.

All of these standards, and many more, can be purchased from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.

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