Through easily-implemented, concrete, relevant and profitable (in the widest sense: local, regional, global) measures, enterprises can improve their environmental performance, control their environmental impact and prove their dedication to corporate responsibility. The Eco-Lighthouse is a valuable tool for authorities and for small, medium-sized and large enterprises in the quest for sustainability and increased eco-efficiency.
The Eco-Lighthouse certification scheme integrates environmental management and both internal and external environmental measures, into the Norwegian Regulations relating to Systematic Health, Environmental and Safety Activities in Enterprises (Internal Control Regulations). Being Eco-Lighthouse certified thus equals full compliance with the Internal Control Regulations and with the relevant environmental regulations pertaining to the enterprise.
The Eco-Lighthouse Foundation started as a local project in Kristiansand, Norway in 1996. In 2000 it was expanded to a national project, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment. In 2004, when the project period ended, the The Eco-Lighthouse scheme was evaluated and the not-for-profit Eco-Lighthouse Foundation established by central organisations in the Norwegian local and national governance and business community, including several large municipalities and the main business and labour interest organisations. From 2006 onwards, the Foundation has been self-financing.
The scheme has grown and gone through a substantial development from its start in 1996. From certifying small and medium-sized enterprises, today the Eco-Lighthouse certifies most enterprises, offering 72 applicable industry-specific criteria, divided into 14 groups classified according to the Norwegian Standard Industrial Classification (SIC2007). The Norwegian government, through Standard Norge, regards the Eco-Lighthouse as a complementary scheme to the ISO-14001 and EMAS systems since its industry criteria constitute concrete and relevant measures offering an understandable and applicable way for enterprises to implement environmental management. The board of the Eco-Lighthouse Foundation has decided upon the Eco-Lighthouse vision: “Norwegian employees work in environmentally certified enterprises”.
The Eco-Lighthouse trains, approves and monitors Eco-Lighthouse consultants, including in-house consultants if an enterprise decides that an employee should undergo training and approval.
An enterprise wanting to become an Eco-Lighthouse is required to hire a qualified Eco-Lighthouse consultant. The environmental statement (Miljøkartlegging) is generated based on the General and Specific industry criteria selected in the ELH web portal (Miljøfyrtårnportalen). The criteria are developed in collusion with relevant government bodies, scientific communities, interest groups and major customers, identifying and addressing the relevant environmental aspects in the industry addressed. The enterprise, through the environmental statement, confirms that the relevant industry criteria have been met before certification is carried out and this is then checked by the certifier. All industry criteria must be met to achieve certification. The enterprise must, with thorough preparation and training by the consultant, complete a detailed annual Climate and environmental report (årlig Klima- og miljørapport) with relevant environmental statistics and a description of implemented environmental actions in the past year as well as those planned for the coming year (this in addition to the industry criteria).
The Eco-Lighthouse Foundations is certified per the ISO-9001:2015 standard.
Municipalities and counties
Out of 430-odd Norwegian municipalities, more than 300 are fee-paying members of the Eco-Lighthouse certification scheme. In addition, several counties (there are 19) are active participants. Membership involves certain responsibilities, including that of providing a certifier (environmental verifier) for enterprises in the area. Certifiers are trained, approved and monitored by the Eco-Lighthouse Foundation. The Eco-Lighthouse Foundation operates with criteria for who can become a certifier (vocational background, education, other relevant experience). A certifier can be employed by the municipality/county administration, or a private firm. It is important to note that, in the Eco-Lighthouse scheme, the municipality constitutes the certifying body, in that certifiers operate on behalf of the municipality, not the Eco-Lighthouse administration. In addition to ensuring access to certifiers, the municipality is encouraged to promote and motivate local enterprises to become certified, and to work towards certification of the municipality itself. By full-scale implementation of Eco-Lighthouse, the municipality operationalizes their transition towards the Green Shift.
Enterprise Federation of Norway, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and Federation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
Within the public sector: Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities, Innovation Norway, Buskerud County Municipality, Nordland County Municipality and the municipalities of Bergen, Drammen, Haram, Kristiansand, Larvik, Oslo, Ringsaker, Stavanger, Tromsø, Trondheim and Ålesund.