The certification scheme

Eco-Lighthouse is Norway's most widely used certification scheme for enterprises seeking to document their environmental efforts and demonstrate social responsibility.

Eco-Lighthouse enterprises work towards satisfying requirements and implementing environmental measures on a systematic and ongoing basis in order to create more environmentally friendly operations and safer work environments.

The Eco-Lighthouse Foundation has prepared industry-specific requirements for a range of different industries. Enterprises are certified subject to independent assessment and must undergo a recertification process every three years. They are also required to submit annual environmental reports. The Eco-Lighthouse certification scheme has been approved by the Norwegian public procurement authorities.

The certification process

When the enterprise is ready to be certified, the certifier and the enterprise decide a date for certification. The certifier is given access to all relevant documents pertaining to the enterprise through the Eco-Lighthouse web portal, in order to prepare for certification. The Eco-Lighthouse web portal is an interactive tool which guides the certification process step-by-step, and access to the functions relevant to each role (consultant, enterprise, certifier etc.) is strictly regulated by the administration, through the web portal.

The certification meeting involves the certifier checking whether the industry criteria are fulfilled, (the general industry criteria are available in English here), checking the annual climate and environmental report, on-site inspection of the facilities and interviews with key staff. After the meeting, the certifier sums up his or her findings in the environmental statement. In case of non-compliance with general or specific industry criteria, the certifier notifies the enterprise of what needs to be done to rectify the situation and sets a deadline for doing so. When all criteria are met, the enterprise is approved.

The annual climate and environmental report

As an integral part of the Eco-Lighthouse web portal, the annual climate and environmental report, consists of general and specific environmental performance indicators. The report is managed and developed by the Eco-Lighthouse administration, offering the enterprises an overview of their environmental impacts and their year-by-year progress, as well as constituting the basis for statistics showing how Eco-Lighthouse certified enterprises compare to their uncertified counterparts. The report can be adapted to individual enterprises with the use of additional, optional extras. The certifiers partly base their evaluation on the environmental report(s) when certifying. The report helps make enterprises aware of the actual effects of the measures they implement, providing them with a valuable tool to monitor progress or regression and to showcase the efforts they make and the results they achieve to maintain their Eco-Lighthouse certification.

Recertification

As a general rule the Eco-Lighthouse issues three-year certificates. When 2½ years have passed since certification, the enterprise is advised to arrange a meeting with a certifier regarding recertification. If there have been substantial changes in the enterprise which entail a change of industry criteria, the enterprise will again need to hire an Eco-Lighthouse consultant or use their own trained and approved in-house consultant if it has one. Otherwise, the recertification process is identical to a first-time certification. The certifier will want to ensure that the enterprise continues to fulfil the industry criteria and that it has made continuous improvement.

The Eco-Lighthouse certifiers

The environmental certifiers in the Eco-Lighthouse certification scheme receive instruction and training as certifiers after submitting their qualifications for approval by the Eco-Lighthouse administration. Some certifiers are self-employed or employed in the private sector; others work in the municipalities or county administrations and are requested by their employer to undergo training and approval as certifiers. Potential certifiers are permitted to undergo training if they fulfil the relevant criteria. Training is provided by the Eco-Lighthouse Foundation, and certifiers are then encouraged to accompany an experienced certifier on one or two assignments before starting out on their own. Eco-Lighthouse certifiers are awarded a course diploma to prove that training has taken place and are granted user access to the Eco-Lighthouse web portal. Eco-Lighthouse certifiers who are no longer recognised or approved will lose access to the web portal. Once a certifier has established that an enterprise fulfils the industry criteria, the environmental statement and annual climate and environmental report(s) and relevant documentation are made available in the Eco-Lighthouse web portal and checked by the Eco-Lighthouse administration. If everything is in order, the certifier’s work is approved and the enterprise’s certificate issued. The administration will clarify any queries regarding the documentation submitted by the certifier or other issues relating to the enterprise before approval is granted.

Eco-Lighthouse control routines

When the Eco-Lighthouse administration is notified that an enterprise has been approved (through routine checks in the web portal), the documentation is controlled by the Eco-Lighthouse administration. This control includes checking that information relevant to the enterprise is registered, that all the relevant documentation is available, that the environmental report has been completed, and that the certifier has checked and approved the enterprise. If everything is in order, the administration endorses the certifier’s approval and issues a certificate through the web portal. The certifier signs the certificate and uploads it to the web portal.

Continuous improvement

In 2018, several measures were implemented to further improve the Eco-Lighthouse certification scheme:

  • Observation of certifiers by an independent third party
  • Tighter control of certificates issued by the certifiers
  • Revision of major industry criteria

A compulsory course in certification based on the ISO 19011 standard for Eco-Lighthouse certifiers

EU recognition

In 2015 the Eco-Lighthouse applied for recognition in accordance with Article 45 of the REGULATION (EC) No 1221/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 25 November 2009 on the voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS).   The conclusion was that the Eco-Lighthouse Foundation mainly met the specifications required by EMAS, apart from some issues pertaining to transparency and environmental policy. These issues were addressed during revision of individual criteria. Find the full comparison document and recognition text here.

Furthermore, pertaining to the requirement that certifiers (environmental controllers) should be accredited by their parent body, it is important to note that the Eco-Lighthouse Foundation itself is not accredited, but rather controls the Eco-Lighthouse certification system through the general and specific industry criteria, the use of approved consultants when preparing for certification, the digitalisation and reporting done through the Eco-Lighthouse web portal and through the training, approval and monitoring of the certifiers’ work in the field.