ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Earth Day Celebrates 35 Years of Increasing Environmental Awareness

New York, Apr 22, 2005

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
~Native American Proverb

Earth Day began on April 22, 1970, on the anniversary of the birth of conservationist John Muir. Thirty-five years later, millions of people across America and around the world commemorate the date by recognizing it as the birth of the modern environmentalism movement and elevating the urgency of protecting the global environment. The voluntary standardization community has made many contributions to environmental awareness and stewardship, and some of the most recognizable are environmental management system (EMS) standards.

According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), an Environmental Management System (EMS) provides a solid framework for meeting environmental challenges and achieving interrelated benefits, with a cyclical structure of planning, implementation, review and continual improvement. The International Standard ISO 14001 is used as a model for implementing an EMS by approximately 37,000 organizations in more than a hundred countries worldwide. Implementation of an EMS is a voluntary approach to improving environmental performance. Yet there is considerable evidence that companies which manage not only the standard economic factors of their operations but also the environmental and social factors affecting their business show financial performance superior to those which fail to manage all three.

An organization considering certification under ISO 14001 rightfully wants to know about the reputation and competence of the registrar or certification body it selects. Each country is responsible for devising its own system for providing such assurance through the process of accreditation. The accreditation of registrars/certification bodies of environmental management systems helps to ensure that the marketplace, including buyers, sellers, public agencies and public interest organizations, can rely on the competence of accredited bodies for their activities related to environmental management systems. In the United States, that accreditation body is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) - American Society for Quality (ASQ) National Accreditation Board (ANAB).

In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and NSF International (both ANSI members) released the second edition of “Environmental Management Systems: An Implementation Guide for Small and Medium-Sized Organizations,” designed to explain environmental management system concepts and to support and facilitate the development of EMS among small and medium-sized organizations. The guide is geared toward EMS implementers in an organization, and is not intended for use by registrars.

Since its formation in July of 1970 when the White House and Congress worked together to establish the EPA in response to the growing public demand for cleaner water, air and land, the Agency has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.

In recognition of Earth Day 2005, EPA Acting Administrator Steve Johnson issued a widespread invitation to "take the time to reflect on our nation’s environmental accomplishments and recommit to challenges of the future."

ANSI has joined with the EPA and dozens of other partners to promote innovative thinking for moving the world toward the three components of sustainability: People, Prosperity and the Planet. Known as the “P3” project, the initiative is a national student design competition through which college students gain new skills and knowledge as they research, develop, design, and implement scientific and technical solutions to environmental challenges. Sixty-six design teams from 51 universities were awarded project grants and developed their design projects during the 2004-2005 academic year.

On May 16 and 17, 2005, the teams will be invited to bring their design projects to the National Mall in Washington, DC, to compete for the P3 Award. The National Academy of Engineering will judge the competition. Winners of the P3 Award will be eligible for additional funds from EPA to match contributions from industry or non-governmental organizations to help further develop the design, implement the project in the field, and move the design to the marketplace.

ANSI is serving as a standardization and conformity assessment resource for the student design teams. The online "Standards Resource Guide" can be used by the faculty and students who comprise the P3 design teams to locate specific standards information, training tools, and contacts at standards developing organizations.

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