Within the context of Corporate Social Responsibility, companies increasingly adopt, in addition to the fulfilment of the environmental commitments imposed to them by the legislation, voluntary measures that contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development (Corporate Environmental Responsibility). In that framework, standard schemes have been established (Environmental Management Systems), available for voluntary participation by companies intending to develop practices for the improvement of their environmental performance. Those companies are subject to identification, evaluation and control of their actions which affect and impact the environment.

In specific, the Community Eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS), which was adopted by Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009, certifies public or private organizations which bind themselves to continuously improve their environmental performance. When an organization receives the EMAS certification means that it has been tested for compliance with environmental legislation, it has identified the significant effects of its operation to the environment and it has implemented a program to reduce these effects. As regards specific goods and services, the European Ecolabel has been established within the EU, based on Regulation (EC) No 66/2010, which is awarded to products and services that have a high level of environmental performance. In order to receive the Ecolabel certification these products must meet certain criteria based on their energy consumption, pollution and waste management. Additionally, as far as energy consumption is concerned, a verification of energy efficient office equipment is applied in the EU, according to Regulation (EC) No 106/2008 (Energy Star).

Moreover, a company can ensure its environmental recognition internationally by receiving the certification of the International Standard for Environmental Management (ISO 14001). Additionally, a company can verify specific products with the International Standard for Environmental Labels and Declarations (ISO 14020-24). As regards emission reduction and trading, a company can join the International Standard for the Assessment and Certification of Greenhouse Gases (ISO 14064, 14065).

Even though the aforementioned verifications are applied by companies on a voluntary basis, public authorities must seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact and better energy standards (Green Public Procurement). Furthermore, apart from the international and European standards, it is worth noting the voluntary emission trading system available to business based in Attica (Athens Green 360).

Edited by Tina Koutsopoulou

Sources: Commission Communication – Public procurement for a better environment; www.iso.org; www.athensgreen360.com