Environmental compliance audit : Analyse your ecological impact

Concerned about the ecological impact of your professional activity ? Want to reduce your footprint on nature while respecting current environmental standards ? Environmental auditing is a regular and orderly analysis of your environmental performance. It offers the opportunity to quantify your ecological impacts, recognize your strengths and areas for improvement and implement adequate corrective and preventive measures.

What is an environmental compliance audit ?

An environmental audit is a periodic and detailed inspection of a company’s environmental performance. This process quantifies an organization’s influence on the environment, identifies strengths and areas for improvement, and develops corrective and preventive measures. In addition, obtaining ISO 14001 certification through an environmental audit underlines the company’s commitment to sustainable development.

Not to be confused with an environmental impact assessment (EIA) that predicts the future environmental impacts of a facility proposal, an environmental audit focuses on current activities and their compliance with environmental standards, both national and international.

Conducted by an external entity or an internal auditor, this review may take various forms, such as compliance audit, performance audit, management audit and certification audit, depending on the desired goals.

The initiative of an environmental audit belongs to a proactive company, wishing to minimize its ecological footprint, strengthen its reputation, protect against legal and financial risks and optimize its expenses. Thus, environmental auditing is an essential strategic tool for any organization aware of its environmental impact and competitiveness.

Why do an environmental audit for your company ?

Conducting an environmental audit for your company is beneficial on several levels, both for the environment and for the economy. Find out why this is so important :

  • Identify risks and ensure compliance : An environmental audit makes it possible to identify any deviations or breaches from current products quality standards. This helps prevent sanctions, conflicts or incidents that could harm your image, security and profitability.
  • Improve your brand image : By conducting an environmental audit, you demonstrate a clear commitment to sustainable development and environmental preservation. This values your company in terms of social and environmental responsibility (SER) in the eyes of your customers, partners, employees and stakeholders.
  • Optimize your operational and environmental performance : Environmental audit is a lever to improve your processes, equipment and environmental practices. It helps reduce your carbon impact, energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and costs. In parallel, this can lead to an improvement in the quality of your products and services and strengthen your competitiveness in the market.

Environmental auditing is a key tool for any company wishing to comply with legislation, stand out from the competition and engage in a path of continuous improvement of its environmental performance.

Who is the environmental compliance audit for ?

The environmental audit is intended for all companies wishing to assess their impact on the environment, comply with current regulations and improve their environmental performance. Although it is not mandatory, it is highly recommended for companies engaged in activities that may have a negative impact on the environment, such as pollution or the creation of nuisances.

This audit is particularly relevant for companies operating industrial sites, using hazardous substances, generating special waste, or those with high consumption of energy or natural resources. For these companies, conducting an environmental audit is a strategic approach to minimize risks, reduce costs and reduce their ecological footprint.

It also concerns companies in the tertiary or service sector that have an indirect influence on the environment. This includes companies offering products or services that have an impact on the environment of their customers, as well as those whose suppliers or subcontractors participate in activities that are harmful to the environment.

In short, the environmental audit is aimed at companies of all sectors and sizes, wishing to be part of a sustainable and responsible development approach. It can be initiated by different actors within the company, such as management, employees, customers, shareholders or external stakeholders.

Which organizations offer environmental audits ?

To carry out an environmental audit, there are a variety of organizations that you can contact, depending on your specific needs, your budget and your sector of activity. Below are some types of organizations that can provide these services :

Engineering offices

The design offices, specialized in engineering and environmental consulting, have the technical expertise and knowledge of the regulations necessary to design personalized environmental audits. They are your ideal partner for implementing an environmental management system (EMS), obtaining ISO 14001 certification, or achieving a carbon footprint.

Architectural firms

Expert in design and construction, architectural firms can assess the energy and environmental performance of your buildings. They offer solutions to improve this performance and assist you in the acquisition of recognized environmental labels such as High Environmental Quality (HEQ) or Low Consumption Building (LCB).

Companies certified RGE global offer

Companies certified RGE (Recognized Guarantor of the Environment) for their complete energy renovation offer are entitled to carry out audits to identify your renovation needs. They guide you towards energy renovation works eligible for financial support from the State, such as the energy transition tax credit (ETTC) or the zero-rate eco-loan (eco-PTZ).

Certification bodies

The certifying bodies, accredited and independent, issue environmental certifications such as the ISO 14001 standard or the EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) label. They perform environmental audits to ensure that your company meets the criteria for these certifications, before awarding you the appropriate certificate.

What are the essential steps to obtain an environmental audit ?

To carry out an environmental audit, a methodical and rigorous approach is essential. Let’s discover together the key steps to successfully complete an environmental audit :

1. Define audit needs and objectives

The first step is to specify what the audit should assess, why and how. Clearly identify the needs and objectives of your audit, taking into account the specific situation of your organization, regulatory requirements and expectations. It is also essential to determine the type of audit to be performed: compliance, performance, certification, etc.

2. Select the body or auditor responsible for the audit

The choice is then made by the body or auditor responsible for the audit. Depending on your needs, your budget and your sector, you can opt for an internal audit carried out by a qualified employee of your company or an external audit conducted by an independent body. Ensure that your choice has the technical skills and regulatory knowledge to conduct the audit effectively.

3. Plan and prepare the audit

After designating the auditor or body, planning and preparation of the audit can begin. Define the scope of the audit, including the relevant sites, processes, activities and environmental aspects. Develop an accurate schedule of audit activities by specifying dates, times, locations, and leads. You can also rely on an appropriate documentation and evaluation system to ensure the monitoring and traceability of the audit.

4. Conduct the audit

The audit is conducted according to the plan and is structured around three main steps : data collection, data analysis and report writing. The collection involves obtaining information on the company’s environmental performance through interviews, questionnaires, site visits and various documents. The analysis stage aims to assess compliance, identify gaps and risks and identify areas for improvement and recommendations. Finally, the report summarizes the results, presents the conclusions, proposals and assesses the satisfaction of stakeholders.

5. Implement corrective and preventive actions

Upon receipt of the audit report, it is crucial to initiate the suggested corrective and preventive actions. Develop a clear action plan, identifying priorities, responsibilities, resource allocation, timelines and monitoring indicators.

Internal and external communication of audit results is also essential. It is important to educate your employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders about the importance of environmental auditing and its benefits.

How much does an environmental audit cost ?

The price of an environmental audit varies according to various criteria, including the type of audit, the size and field of activity of your company, the complexity of the structure of your residence, the chosen provider, as well as the level of detail required. In the absence of fixed pricing for this type of service, it is wise to compare proposals and request several quotes before making a decision.

For a single home or apartment, the price of an environmental assessment usually ranges between 500 and 1,000 euros. In the case of a company or co-ownership, this range widens to 10,000 euros, while an audit of great complexity can cost between 10,000 and 15,000 euros.

Several financial aids are available to reduce the cost of an environmental audit, as part of comprehensive renovations. MaPrimeRénov' can contribute up to 500 euros for an individual audit, depending on your financial resources. Schemes such as the energy transition tax credit (ETTC) or the zero-rate eco-loan (eco-ZREL) can also subsidize a portion of the energy improvements suggested following the audit.

Investing in an environmental audit is therefore profitable, allowing you to reduce your ecological footprint, comply with current regulations and increase your energy efficiency and your long-term savings.

Is there a renewal to be done regarding the environmental audit ?

An environmental audit is an ongoing process, not a one-time operation. It involves regular monitoring and updating. Environmental regulations, standards, technologies and practices change regularly. Thus, adapting to these changes is crucial to maintain or improve your environmental performance.

The frequency of renewal of the environmental audit varies depending on the type of audit performed and previous results. For example, an ISO 14001 certification audit requires a renewal every three years to maintain certification, with annual monitoring audits to ensure the optimal functioning of your environmental management system (EMS). If the audit was on regulatory compliance, it would have to be renewed every time there are changes in your legislation.

For an environmental performance audit, renewal is necessary whenever you want to assess the effectiveness of the corrective and preventive measures put in place.

Regularly renewing your environmental audit is crucial to ensure the continuity and reliability of your environmental commitment. This allows you to confirm your compliance with legal, normative and contractual requirements, assess the progress of your environmental impacts and demonstrate your commitment to sustainable development.