The Difference between ISO 20121:2012 and BS EN 8901:2009

The Difference between ISO 20121:2012 and BS EN 8901:2009

The sustainable events standard; BS EN 8901:2009 was originally introduced with the up and coming London, UK Olympics in mind; 2012. The idea was that any events company that LOCOG used would have to be up to this standard before the Olympics. It appeared for the most part this happened. ISO 20121:2012 was produced as an international standard from this British Standard and is now a sustainable legacy of the games.

I myself helped Arena Group through the BS 8901 and ISO 14001 process, which has now been upgraded to ISO 20121. I have also audited to both the international and national standards under UKAS guidelines, which is rarity at the time of writing.

There are 3 ways to look at the new ISO20121 standard. It is an upgrade from the BS8901, it is closer to the ISO14001 standard, and as a standalone standard it sits very well within the corporate arena. This is something that can be said if implemented in the spirit of the standard, with conviction to reduce the environmental impacts of the organisation. I will set out the differences to the standard in the following sections;

Restructure of BS8901

This does allow the implementer to understand who the targets audience are.

New Structure to ISO20121

The management review changes by adding the following;

Interestingly, a well-run ISO14001 management system should already highlight this kind of information;


Building up a better picture of the system/company flaws as the years progress and the system matures.

Same Structure as ISO14001

The items shown above are requirements that were not part of BS 8901 but that will (in part) be covered by a combined ISO 14001 and BS 8901 management system,


Throughout the new ISO standard there is a very coherent theme to govern more sustainably and to try and truly realise the internal and external influences on the companies activities from a sustainable point of view. Interestingly the ISO20121 standard really starts to integrate some aspects that are found within the ISO9001 system, for example more understanding of the context of the organisation and the needs and expectations of interested parties. The new ISO standard also explicitly requires for there to be an improvement in the system year on year.

The ISO20121 standard is in my opinion a better and more effectively structured standard than both its predecessor and ISO14001. Lets hope the new 14001 standard is taken in the same vain as this standard. The new ISO14001 standard is to be implemented in 2014, I believe.

Written By William Richardson

Topics: Energy, ISO 14001, William Richardson

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