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Maybe winning is their next task // Honda get ISO certification and raise their environmental profile

Published by Christine Blachford

Honda recently announced that they have achieved ISO 14001 certification, something that the entire Honda brand is working towards. ISO’s have always been a bit of a mystery to me. I can see the hard work that goes into them, but I’ve never really understood the concept. I did some introductory work on ISOs for a small business, and from what I could tell it was all about putting systems in place, and not really about achieving anything. As long as you’ve got a flow chart, it doesn’t really matter what happens afterwards.

I may be completely wrong on this, but the official ISO 14001 site can’t even clarify. It says [emphasis mine]:

ISO 14001:2004 does not specify levels of environmental performance. If it specified levels of environmental performance, they would have to be specific to each business activity and this would require a specific EMS standard for each business. That is not the intention.

I can understand the logic, of course, but if you’re not setting specific targets, I don’t see how you can measure the environmental efforts of a company. What this says to me is that Honda have managed to make themselves an officially green team (although they did that with the shorts!) without actually having to meet any green targets.

Nick and Ross with an award

The fact I can’t tell what the ISO is all about doesn’t mean that Honda aren’t doing anything, of course. In the press release, Nick Fry talked about some of the efforts they’re making. They include management training about environmental issues, cutting down CO2 emissions, and of course, the earthdreams initiative. Fry says:

Contrary to popular belief, the fuel that we use to race and test our cars forms around only 1% of our CO2 emissions footprint. The vast majority is from power use at our factory and air transportation of people and equipment around the world. This gives us some formidable challenges to reduce our consumption but we intend to see the same technology and ingenuity that we deploy on our F1 car to make a worthwhile contribution to reducing our CO2 emissions.

- Nick Fry

This raises a curious question. On Honda’s own website, they say that the factories in Japan have been ISO certified since 1999. I wonder why it’s taken so long for it to reach this country.

Anyway, I wouldn’t want to take anything away from Honda at all. It’s an achievement, and a well deserved one, as we are constantly hearing about their efforts to improve their sizeable eco-footprint. The next step is to stop talking about it and actually show us some of the things they have achieved.

Possibly the most interesting part of this story, however, comes from its timing. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Jenson Button had bought a couple of planes from Honda in the aims of setting up his own chartered airline in the next few years. Chartered airlines? Honda? In the same sentence? That’s about as un-environmentally friendly as you can get.

[Aside: The above is an official Honda picture. We haven’t messed with it at all, except to add the copyright credit. I can only assume that Honda wanted to cut down on the energy used in travelling, and allowed a cardboard cut-out of Nick Fry to attend the certificate presentation, rather than the man himself.]




  • ISO 14001 is based on ISO9001 which relates to manufacturing processes and a range of other things. If you complete the appropriate paper work saying that you intend to buy old newspapers and paint them green you will probably get ISO9001 if you can prove that you are buying old newspapers and painting them green. There is of course endless paperwork and regular audits but assuming you do what you said you would do you will get your accreditation.

    For ISO14001 you have to say that you will control you environmental impact in a number of ways and provided you do what you said you would do you get a certificate. The fact that Honda are generating carbon dioxide by the ton from their wind tunnel is utterly irrelevant as far as ISO are concerned so long as they have said that is what they are doing they are happy.

    Unless you go backwards from your starting position and you tell the auditor you have gone backwards you ar unlikely ever to lose your accreditation once you have achieved it.

    ISO is utterly pointless. Companies only get it for two reasons. They get good publicity from it and a lot of companies insist that they will only deal with suppliers who have it. That way the customer companies get a tick on their green roadmap and they get good publicity by saying that they only deal with suppliers who are certified.

    The whole thing is a giant con that achieves nothing. As you may imagine I have spent years of my life jumping through hoops because of this pointless stupidity.

    I like the new edit facility.

  • I can only assume that Honda wanted to cut down on the energy used in travelling, and allowed a cardboard cut-out of Nick Fry to attend

    make that a cardboard ross brawn too. what an odd picture, only the anonymous woman thought to turn up.

    by the way, love the title :)

  • The fact that Honda are generating carbon dioxide by the ton from their wind tunnel is utterly irrelevant as far as ISO are concerned so long as they have said that is what they are doing they are happy.

    what a strange state of affairs.

    i get the impression nick fry would rather be a pen-pushing politician, than play any part in all that "racing" malarkey.

  • Sorry, rant about to begin...

    This is what really p***** me off about the current environmental movement in general and what Formula One is to teams like Honda: It's not about what you actually do; it's what you appear to do.

    The biggest example of this for me in F1 is the whole KERS debate. Like Honda, I feel like Formula One as a whole is falling into a trap. Does anyone know if KERS will actually save any amounts of fuel or reduce the amount of green house gases produced by the engines? What manufacture has stated that KERS will be on road cars anytime soon or has said that the development of KERS will go directly their passenger car divisions in the next several years? Will the power developed in the KERS process actually make up for all the weight of its machinery? Most important, does anyone know if it would actually make the racing better? I have not heard a positive answer to any of this.

    Yet, it sounds and feels good because we are "recovering" energy, but really what advantages are there except for PR and a minor amount of RD for a company that more than likely won't apply it to their wider production cars. (Some of the cost estimates I have heard to bring KERS into a production car are unfathomable.) This is the down side of the lack of competition (down to10 teams...) in the sport; some of them are in it to look good, not necessarily to win.

    Look as much as they can hide the facts: if you race cars, you will burn fuel and create greenhouse gases. No foreseeable technology or public relations campaign can ever make that singular fact go away.

    If Formula One wants to be truly green, there are things that it can do off the track that would have a lot more of an impact than tinkering with the cars. What about requiring a certain level of mass transit to races by their organizers in order to reduce traffic and cars on the road? How about using some of those miles of run off areas as green spaces instead of gravel traps? How about sponsoring an independent “zero emissions” car racing series? How about the FOM and FIA buying up vast sums of the South American rainforest as an attempt to offset any pollution the cars on the track produce? What about teams bring “greener” support cars? The list is endless and all of them would not affect the racing but make the sport “cleaner.”

    My point is this; there are some practical, simple solutions the sport can make if it feels responsible for its pollution without hindering the racing. However the most practical and simple solution is never the sexiest or the most PR friendly move. Again, that’s what happens when you have teams in it to look good and not necessarily to win.

  • This is what really p***** me off

    Sorry, I keep forgetting what words are English english swear words versus the American english norm... My bad...

  • nice rant dan! i might have asterisked one of your words though :)

    all of your suggestions are very workable, the rainforest thing is already taken care of by the fia. but mass transportation and greener support cars are all fine ideas. i suspect DC might complain if you turned his run-off areas into eco-zones though.

    However the most practical and simple solution is never the sexiest or the most PR friendly move.

    nope, but honda have to make the earthdreams concept work or they're gonna look really silly. myearthdream was a dismal failure, so i guess they're taking the PR wins when they can.

  • Yeah, weird thing about Honda. In the 1980s it was all about power and Senna would do these PR events driving Honda sports cars around Suzuka producing tons CO2. Then suddenly basically the same cars become green because PR trend has changed. I mean let's face it - the cars (engines and all) haven't changed much since 1980s. OK, there's this direct injection stuff and new diesel technology but it's still running on fossil fuel.

    Has anybody from within the team told Nick Fry that they've got bigger fish to fry? Since DR left Honda's been a misery. No offence for Honda and Jenson fans but they haven't managed a podium since Brazil 2006. I'd be more than happy to see Jenson fighting for the podiums and wins than talking about how watching tv wastes energy. His career is slowing down, the example of Jean Alesi is always there. Furious first years and then gradual decline. Green pants are not so important in F1, Ferrari staff keep wearing red pants and the team keeps winning races.

  • Put it simplified and short- "What has the French Riviera got in common with Melbourne?" It does make wonder sometimes.....

  • Honda on Channel 4 tonight did the first live advert on UK TV since the 1950s. I missed it. On the same day that their F1 team received their green award the parent company's live advert features sky divers jumping out of a plane. They sent a plane up for no other reason than to allow people to jump out of it. Is that environmentally friendly? One of their spokemen was interviewed on the radio and asked what would happen if the live event failed. He replied that they had done loads of practise jumps and filmed them.

    Joined up thinking? I don't think so.

  • Joined up thinking? I don’t think so.

    quite.

    i didn't see it either, but they are sending out some pretty confusing signals at the minute. a couple of their adverts have been 'on message', the kettle one springs to mind. what were they advertising by falling out of a perfectly good plane?

  • Joined up thinking? I don’t think so.

    I would love to defend Honda...but i can't :/ However i continue to support them ;)

  • I would love to defend Honda…but i can’t :/ However i continue to support them

    hehe, i'm not sure it's the f1 team specifically at fault here anyhow, i guess their ideas aren't supported wholeheartedly throughout the rest of the company.

  • Honda on Channel 4 tonight did the first live advert on UK TV since the 1950s. I missed it. On the same day that their F1 team received their green award the parent company’s live advert features sky divers jumping out of a plane

    I would call it bad timing on behalf of the Honda Racing department. Does seem like the whole Honda company are going for an environmentally-friendly reputation, so I'm not sure where this idea fits in. Good ad though.

  • Good ad though.

    ah-ha, found it:

    uk.youtube.com/wa…tch?v=MdBESZaB6NA

  • 'ah-ha, found it'

    Thanks for finding it, i missed it. It is a pretty good ad. Although i find myself asking why.

  • It is a pretty good ad. Although i find myself asking why.

    yeah i thought the same thing. i guess if it's the start of an advertising campaign all will be revealed.

  • I think its a build-up to a new ad for the Honda Accord on Sunday. Still not entirely sure what the skydiving theme has been chosen for.

  • I figured that they would be making some kind of pattern in the air but they could have come up with something better. I don't know what they gained by doing it live.

  • but they could have come up with something better

    careful, the f1 team came with green pants and dumbo wings.

    let's face it, they could've come up with something worse too :D

  • May 29th, 2008 at 10:17 pmme said:

    Joined up thinking? I don’t think so.

    quite.

    i didn’t see it either, but they are sending out some pretty confusing signals at the minute. a couple of their adverts have been ‘on message’, the kettle one springs to mind. what were they advertising by falling out of a perfectly good plane?

    Easy. Honda is just helping Button with his "No-thrills" airline. If you get rid of the extra weight, you will require less gas to move the airplane around, so I figure if you have the passengers bail out over teh destination city, the airpline could save some money by not needing as much avgas and the passenger benefit as they do not have to go through the airport. Let us face it, Heathrow is a mess of an airport, and Gatwick is slowly getting overstuffed too. London could really use a third International soon.

  • What's wrong with expanding the airports up north? That's one of Mum's favourite gripes...

  • What's wrong with carpet bombing the south of England and re-building it properly.

  • What’s wrong with carpet bombing the south of England and re-building it properly.

    Oi! I live in the South East and its very nice ;) (well where i live is) Whats wrong with the south? ;)

  • It's badly designed. Constantly needs new airports etc.

    You can't move because the roads are badly laid out and have way too low a capacity. I spent some time on the south coast and couldn't believe how difficult it was to get anywhere.

    Besides stop being selfish. Just think of the GP track Hermann Tilke could build with all that space.

  • I spent some time on the south coast and couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get anywhere.

    are you talking aouth east coast or south? I've never really had a problem if im honest. But i was born in the SE and know i pretty well.

    Besides stop being selfish. Just think of the GP track Hermann Tilke could build with all that space.

    As much as i would love a GP track outside my door, i like the South and the lovely countryside ;)

  • You can’t move because the roads are badly laid out and have way too low a capacity. I spent some time on the south coast and couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get anywhere.

    Not a fan of Milton Keynes by any chance?....

  • I spent some time on the south coast and couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get anywhere.

    Yes, not really our stongest point. In fact, as i'm writing this there is a queue of cars outside. How's that for timing?

    Just think of the GP track Hermann Tilke could build with all that space.

    Forget the olympics, lets build a great big Grand Prix circuit in the middle of newham.

  • Instead of having a Hermann Tilke circuit being built in the middle of South England why just find the site of a former airfield with the strangest possible (read English) name - try Lympe or Hawkinge for starters and connect the runnways and/or perimeter roads together? :P

    Jordan (Allen) F1

  • Failing that idea, why not double the useage of the land around a horse race by surrounding the horse racing track with the autoracing track. The Auto Racing track can then be used as the parking lot for tthose people wishing to see the horses race.

    Jordan (Allen) F1. :P

  • Failing that idea, why not double the useage of the land around a horse race by surrounding the horse racing track with the autoracing track.

    because then the track would be an oval. and you know what that means...

  • Steven Roy said:

    What’s wrong with carpet bombing the south of England and re-building it properly.

    That's been done before with typical German throughness and what you currently see is the end result.....

    I blame British Engineers for British Roads. The problem being, that the Engineers ATTEMPT to start working on the roads after the pub has closed, and not the other way around. Wide, straight roads tend to exist where Engineers get hammered after the road has been completed.

    Jordan (Allen) F1.

  • May 31st, 2008 at 12:30 amme said:

    Failing that idea, why not double the useage of the land around a horse race by surrounding the horse racing track with the autoracing track.

    because then the track would be an oval. and you know what that means…

    Besides Red Bull's Gearboxes having a better chance of lasting four races, what?

    Jordan (Allen) F1.

  • Besides Red Bull’s Gearboxes having a better chance of lasting four races, what?

    go fast, turn left.

  • Darn. I got too cute. Apparently, the 1955 British Grand Prix at Aintree, while completely around the horse track, was basically triangluar in shape, with an infield section, to make more than 4 turns....

    &*&*(*(%!!!!

    I still like the idea of using the runways and perimeter roads of an abandoned airfield, although.... How about Gravesend?

    Jordan (Allen) F1.

  • was basically triangluar in shape, with an infield section, to make more than 4 turns….

    someone out there made a more boring track than tilke?

  • The U.S. Grand Prix West was held in the Cresar's Palace parking lot in Los Vegas.... You all seen a parking lot, imagine one of those things becoming a grand prix track....

    Jordan (Allen) F1

  • Jordan,

    The Aintree club ciruit has four turns but the GP circuit was much bigger. It held quite a few GPs. If you ever see the grand national horse race on TV the road that the camera car uses is the GP circuit. It runs right next to those big fences.

    I went through the racing drivers school there a long time ago and one day I decided to go and have a look at one of the fences on the exit of the fastest corner on the club circuit. I figured that it would all be twigs no thicker than rose bushes to protect the horses. Wrong. Some of the branches were 2 or 3 inches in diameter and pointing in all directions. It was perfectly possible for a driver to get one in his face which could have been really dangerous.

  • Steven Roy:

    I am just trying to save the poor limeys of the southern part of England from your idea being carpart bombed just so that a Hun-bore-o-ring type circuit can be built-in. With the English being so crazy of traditons, I have suggested the idea of using any abandoned airfield to run the races at on the runways and parameters roads. No one seems to liked this idea so I will further add the idea that the cars should race toward each other on opposite ends of the same runway and make a left turn at the intersection of two runways so that the cars can race away from each other on the intersecting runway. To eliminate the possibility of cars crashing head-on into each other bales of hay sshould be placed at the exact middle of the intersection of the runways.....

    What happened to the Middle Wallop airfield?

    Jordan (Allen) F1.

  • I think it was Steve Matchett who pointed out early on in the "earthdreams" era the best thing Honda was doing to save the environment was making sure they didn't get out of the first qualifying session.

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