Comparative analysis of energy impacts of traditional and partly electronic environmental auditing: Learning from the Japanese automotive industry case

26 January 2011

This paper does a comparative analysis and assessment of energy impacts of traditional and partly electronic ISO 14001 environmental management system auditing that using videoconferencing systems. The focus is on the Japanese automotive industry. The idea is to quantify the environmental impacts of auditing and resolve the important question on whether or not the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in environmental auditing reduces environmental impacts in ISO 14001 environmental management systems. The main results show that there are no clear energy savings or environmental advantages associated with ICT use in environmental auditing for the set system boundary. However electronic auditing is shown to have clear advantages for stated variables within the model, for example when the distance travelled by the auditors by train and by car is less than 75 km and 17 km per day respectively. A comparison of modes of travel by auditors, shows that rail travel offers the most environmental and energy benefits. It is also noted that travel dominates in terms of energy consumption and environmental burdens compared to all other environmental aspects associated with auditing. The study contributes to knowledge in that among other things, it enables researchers to draw parallels from it applicable to other industrial sectors and other countries. Southern African countries can use this methodology in analysing auditing methods with little or no changes in the model used.