ISO standards are crucial to sustainable development, as they are a key source of technological know-how, including for developing countries and economies in transition. They are invaluable in helping countries develop their economies and build capacities to compete on global markets. Consumers, governments and businesses everywhere benefit from ISO’s efforts.

In today’s interconnected world, International Standards provide internationally harmonized solutions to global challenges that are too large for any one country to solve on its own. They allow the industry to move forward without each individual company having to do the ground-up implementation on its own. Because of standards, everyone can innovate and everything can interoperate.

It was precisely the mix of these two subjects that was at the heart of the lively open session held in September at the ISO General Assembly in San Diego, USA.

The open session provided an opportunity for stakeholders from around the world – including business leaders – to discuss the current issues around innovation and the economics of sustainable development, what is being done and what needs to be done better, and how standards could assist.

The event’s interactive format prompted extensive discussion among participants, and generated a wealth of ideas to address gaps and opportunities as well as new avenues for the development of ISO standards. Some 100 ideas were captured from the two break-out sessions addressing the expectations on international standardization and highlighting a number of exemplary achievements around the world.

The opening address was given by Dr. Torsten Bahke, Director of DIN, ISO member for Germany, who accentuated the importance of International Standards: “Global challenges need global solutions and ISO, through its national members and organizations in liaison, has a unique framework for bringing together the international expertise that can develop these solutions, and for disseminating them in an orderly and effective manner. ISO standards also ensure that innovative solutions can be transferred to developing countries so that the benefits are also available on a global basis.”

Denise Naguib, Vice President, Sustainability and Supplier Diversity, Marriott International, Inc. (USA), made the keynote address to the first panel. She described the Marriott sustainability strategy and its journey, as well as the development with industry partners of an aligned carbon footprint methodology.

Ms. Naguib pointed out that a systematic approach to sustainability has helped the company succeed and drive innovation throughout its 3 700+ hotels/properties around the globe.

“As an industry, we have worked together to align on the methodology which we can all use to move forward and give consistent communication to our customers on our carbon footprint”

She went on to explain how sustainable hotels are not easily defined and the importance of standards. “The value of a standards approach is very important so we can better communicate to our customers, including on the use of ISO 14001 for environmental management.

“The standards approach is incredibly helpful in the hospitality industry to ensure that we are aligned and drive sustainable development.”

Business buy-in

The panelists at the morning session, which addressed International Standards in support of sustainable development. From left: Declan Meally, Head of Department, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland; Chad Gilless, Practice Lead, Strategy Energy Management, EnerNOC (USA); Ms. Denise Naguib, Vice President, Sustainability and Supplier Diversity, Marriott International, Inc., (USA); Haroldo Mattos de Lemos, Vice Chair of ISO/TC 207, Chair Technical Council of ABNT (Brazil), and President of the Instituto Brasil PNUMA, and Dr. Torsten Bahke, Director of DIN, ISO member for Germany.

Across many industries, leading firms have adopted ISO standards to improve quality assurance, waste reduction, environmental impact, and safety. Like other ISO standards, ISO 50001:2011, Energy management systems − Requirements with guidance for use, offers an organizational framework to achieve a greater goal, in this case, energy management. Its strategies include establishing management structures to increase accountability and results, applying energy efficiency to operations and maintenance, and integrating energy into areas such as training and procurement.

Industry use of ISO 50001 was well explained by Chad Gilless, Practice Lead – Strategy Energy Management, EnerNOC (USA), a leading provider of energy management applications and services.

ISO 50001 is being used as a strategic tool and framework in the multi-billion USD energy efficiency industry. Mr. Gilless, who has been involved with ISO 50001 since its inception in 2008, showed how businesses, energy utilities, and governments can leverage the standard to achieve their energy goals.

“Energy efficiency is a smart business,” he said, “Studies show that implementing ISO 50001 is a smart payback at the facility level with a return on investment in a year or less.”

He concluded : “ISO 50001 makes smart energy efficiency ‘smarter’, from equipment to energy data to organization.”

The benefits of ISO 14001:2004, Environmental management systems − Requirements with guidance for use, particularly for SMEs, was also well explained by the next speaker, Haroldo Mattos de Lemos, President of the Instituto Brasil PNUMA (Brazilian Committee for the United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP).

Mr. Mattos de Lemos noted that ISO’s work promotes sustainability and has always been an underlying concept of standards development. Take, for instance, the ISO 14000 family of standards for environmental management. Industry’s use of the ISO 14000 series results in savings of natural resources, reductions in the generation of residues and pollution, supports innovation in the use of natural resources and helps to ensure that goods and services are globally acceptable.”

He highlighted the market situation for SMEs and the increasing demands being placed on them to prove the environmental management efficiency of their production processes. Additional support, he suggested, can improve the outlook, citing ISO 14005:2010, Environmental management systems – Guidelines for a phased implementation of an environmental management system, including the use of environmental performance evaluation, which facilitates the inclusion of SMEs in their quest for sustainability.

“Society is seeing business as a solutions provider more and more,” he said. “Business has the chance to contribute along with society to the formulation of the public policy agenda for sustainability.”

The benefits of a public and private partnership was taken a step further and explored by Declan Meally, Head of Department, with responsibility for non-domestic energy efficiency, in the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), Ireland’s national body for sustainable energy policy and programmes.

The SEAI/industry partnership is a model of how government and business can work together. It has been pivotal in turning Ireland into an international leader in energy-management best practice, solutions and systems. The publication of ISO 50001 has been crucial in creating a framework that is proven to deliver results.

In the early years, said Declan Meally, we were dealing with energy managers. ISO 50001 took it a step further by moving the discussion from “the boiler room to the boardroom”, necessitating the involvement of the whole team and bringing together interested groups. “We saw major changes in productivity thanks to ISO 50001”.

He gave an example : the Dundalk 2020 Project is creating the first sustainable energy community in Ireland. The aim of the project is to examine, in a structured way, the interaction of all aspects of sustainable development and the potential of the region to act as an exemplar and national model for sustainable energy. Work to date on the Dundalk 2020 project has led to savings of several million Euros in energy and even more is envisaged. The innovation is the integration.

In support of innovation

The panelists at the afternoon session, which addressed International Standards in support of innovation. From left: Mr. Patrick MacLeamy, Chief Executive Officer, HOK Architects (Norway); Phil McKinney, an innovation consultant and former Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group; Mr. Jacques Lair, Chair of ISO/TC 268; Mr. Rajan Rajeev, Senior Director, Product Management, Qualcomm Life Inc. (USA), and Dr. Torsten Bahke, Director of DIN.

International Standards bring innovation to the marketplace, facilitating the development of new markets and increased consumer knowledge and confidence. They make a positive contribution to the world we live in, providing solutions and achieving benefits for all sectors of activity, from sciences to technology, from management to finance or trade.

The keynote address to the second panel (on innovation) of the open session was delivered by Phil McKinney, an innovation consultant and former Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group, who spoke on the theme of “ Standardizing sustainable co-innovation.”

He underlined the one competitive advantage that is driving every organization – speed, and how to shorten the overall development cycle, including the industry standards process, so that “the work we do today can have an impact now, and not five to 10 years from now”

“Innovation is the engine that drives our economy,” he said, “I’m a believer in co-innovation.”

Mr. McKinney underlined the fact that success in standards is driven by bringing together more people at the table and putting the best ideas forward. “Scale has a huge benefit”, he said, “it can accelerate new standards and address the innovation gap and the innovation delay.”

The importance of innovation – as it relates to wireless healthcare – was the subject of the talk given by Rajeeve Rajan, Senior Director, Product Management, Qualcomm Life Inc. (USA).

Advances in wireless healthcare are providing improved sources of understanding for disease and treatment modalities, and are revolutionizing the provision of health services in both developing and developed countries.

“We have become untethered…our world is ruled by wireless. There are more people with access to cell phones, than to drinking water, electricity or a toothbrush.”

However – and herein lies the challenge – the medical technologies sector is highly fragmented, highly competitive and highly regulated. There are, at the same time, opportunities for standards, the most immediate solution being interoperability.

“Fragmentation and connectivity cannot coexist”, he said. In healthcare, devices and systems need to bridge these gaps through interoperability. And International Standards can provide interoperability solutions without which it would be impossible for these technologies to make the links necessary to work together.

Where do we go in the long term ? “Standards can act as enablers to drive differentiation,” said Mr. Rajan. “Standards should drive the lower layers of the system. This will enable vendors and providers to drive differentiation of their products at the upper and application layers.”

The enabling role of International Standards was highlighted in a talk by Jacques Lair, Chair of the recently created ISO technical committee ISO/TC 268, Sustainable development in communities.

The proposed programme of work for the newly created technical committee includes the development and implementation of holistic, cross-sector and area-based approaches to sustainable development in communities.

“The aim is in line with the overall objectives of sustainable development,” said Mr. Lair. “These recommendations will improve use of local resources, give access to best available technology, and reduce environmental impact. And to succeed, innovative solutions will have to be adaptable and incremental.”

Mr. Lair ended his talk by encouraging participation in the ISO technical committee whose success depends on the involvement of a large number of experts from a wide range of countries. The more the better.

An example of innovative thinking in the building sector was provided by Patrick MacLeamy, Chief Executive Officer of HOK Architects, a global design and services firm.

Energy consumption in buildings, he explained, represents nearly 40 % of the world’s total energy use and 40 % of global solid waste. There are many ways to reduce these energy requirements, and the potential savings from energy efficiency in the building sector would contribute substantially to a worldwide reduction in energy consumption.

This is why buildingSMART is an innovation approach not only to building design, but also to construction through its entire life cycle.

The building industry can gain a high return on investment by looking across all phases of design, construction and occupancy. Mr. MacLeamy explained that for every Dollar/Euro/Pound spent to design a building, about 20 USD is spent to build that building. Most owners of buildings think of that as the end, he said, but it’s only the beginning : the actual operating costs of the building are three times higher than the costs of design.

BuildingSMART consists of three models :

  • Building information model (BIM) : design (USD 1),
  • Building manufacturing assembly (BAM) : (USD 20)
  • Building operation optimization model (BOOM) : (USD 60)

BOOM has the biggest pay off ! We can save at least 10 %, if not 30 %, on energy consumption throughout the lifetime of the building. Our job is to develop interoperable solutions that allow any ingenious provider to operate with any others, thus improving the built environment. This is the promise of buildingSMART.

“We think the end result of our work has to be embedded as ISO standards,” he said. The building industry is not local, but global. The big constructors are everywhere. Building operations are a profession, not an afterthought.

Where are we going ? Vision for the future

Addressing participants at the end of the conference, ISO Secretary-General, Rob Steele, reiterated the importance of the open session in today’s economic climate. Innovation, sustainable development and standards make good business sense. “The need for standards won’t go away; that much is clear,” he said. “What needs to be clarified is the best road to follow to get there.”

The open session’s more casual format favoured interaction between speakers and audience. This led to lively and relevant discussions, allowing inquisitive minds to thrash out ideas on issues of relevance to sustainability, innovation and standards. The setting encouraged give-and-take, facilitating vigorous exchanges and addressing thought-provoking topics.

More than 100 ideas were synthesized into a few key themes.

  • Success is made through collaboration [business, regulators, standards development organizations (SDOs), academia]
  • Communication is key – are we (ISO) being understood ?
  • Accelerated rate of innovation
  • Standards provide leveraged R&D and innovation
  • Need speed to address markets…or miss out

In many, or most, presentations and discussions, speakers agreed that International Standards generate multiple benefits to all types of industries, from hospitality, to smart cities to buildings. There is room, and a pressing need, to develop more standards for all industries to help them innovate and reap further benefits… even more.

“All of the suggestions will be reviewed,” said Rob Steele. “We will bring them together, and evaluate them, and, if possible, incorporate them into the implementation plan. Whereas broader, more strategic ideas will need to be transmitted to Council for further action.”

The complete set of presentations made by workshop participants are now available.

All ideas and feedback submitted during the event are available at Information regarding follow-up on this input will also be posted there.

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