by Korin Giles, Urban Engineers, Inc.

Environmental management systems (EMS) emerged in the early 1990s to provide organizations with a proactive, systematic approach for managing the potential environmental consequences of their operations. These systems have become globally adopted and are proven highly effective at improving environmental performance. Whether you choose an EMS that is ultimately audited and registered by a third party or an EMS that is self-certified and self-monitored; there are benefits to implementing and maintaining an EMS in your facility. Here is a summary of just a few:

Internal Management/Communication: proactive management philosophy reduces environmental concerns; integration of environmental issues into business practices and decisions creates a “green” organization; environmental goals become company-wide shared responsibilities

Compliance/Incidents: improves regulatory compliance records; results in fewer environmental incidents; eases the burden of efficient demonstration of compliance

Environmental Performance: reduces environmental impacts of facility activities; reduces raw material use through integration of environmental stewardship into product and process designs

Cost Savings: savings through waste minimization, energy efficiency, resource optimization, reduction of environmental incidents; less time required for regulatory inspections

External Stakeholders: improved relationships with customers through credibility of certified EMS; improved relationships with regulators; public recognition of company’s commitment to the environment

If you are striving toward registration of your EMS, the typical EMS will take between 12 and 24 months from development to registration. A good EMS takes time, like a good stew. It takes time to develop written procedures, accumulate objective evidence, change attitudes, and get everyone’s ‘buy-in’ to the program.

Korin Giles is the Environmental Practice Leader for Urban Engineers, Inc. She is a certified ISO 14001 Environmental Auditor and obtained her B.S. and M.S. in Health, Safety and Environmental Engineering from Gannon University.

Special Note: NWIRC will offer an Introduction to ISO 14001 by Korin Giles on March 15, 2017 to guide you through the steps of developing and implementing an EMS to registration and beyond. Click here for more information.