In 1997, IBM became the first major multinational company to earn a single global registration to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 environmental management systems (EMS) standard. We achieved this credential within just one year of the finalization of the first edition of the standard, in part due to the results already delivered under our environmental policy, first issued in 1971, and the early implementation of our environmental management programs. The registration covered IBM's manufacturing, product design and hardware development operations across its business units worldwide.

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 additional entities such as our research locations that use chemicals, several IBM organizations at a country level, as well as our Procurement and Supply Chain, and Global Asset Recovery Services organizations.

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.

Approximately 20 IBM locations and relevant business organizations (known as registered entities) are audited annually by an external ISO 14001 registrar. Our manufacturing, hardware development, chemical-using research locations and other registered entities are audited by the ISO 14001 registrar on a 12- to 30-month cycle. 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.

We completed the update to our global environmental management system and have transitioned our certification to the 2015 edition of the ISO standard.