In 1997, IBM became the world's first major multinational to have earned a single worldwide registration to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) standard. The registration covered IBM's manufacturing, product design and hardware development operations across its business units worldwide. IBM was able to earn its single worldwide registration to ISO 14001 because of its longstanding global EMS.

The ISO 14001 EMS standard is a voluntary international standard that identifies the elements of an EMS needed for an organization to effectively manage its impact on the environment. Its objective is to integrate the EMS with overall business management processes so that environmental considerations are a standard part of business decisions.

Since 1997, IBM has expanded its global ISO 14001 registration to include its chemical-using research locations and several country organizations, covering their nonmanufacturing locations. Additionally, several business functions such as product design and development, Integrated Supply Chain, and Global Asset Recovery Services also have obtained ISO 14001 certification.

Applied to its operations globally, IBM's EMS fosters common practices and solutions, continual improvement and worldwide consistency. The result is a more effective and efficient EMS. The single registration also verifies that IBM executes the same EMS no matter where in the world it does business.

Under IBM's single global registration, approximately 25 sites or registered entities are audited annually on a sampling or rolling basis by Bureau Veritas Certification, IBM's ISO 14001 registrar. These audits of IBM's EMS include sampling and verification of the implementation of IBM's internal requirements, monitoring and measurement as reported through the self assessment program, energy management plans, and in the Environmental Performance Database, and other tools used to provide the information for IBM's annual environmental and corporate responsibility reporting and for management review.