Environmental management system

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Environmental management system (EMS) refers to the management of an organization's environmental programs in a comprehensive, systematic, planned and documented manner. It includes the organizational structure, planning and resources for developing, implementing and maintaining policy for environmental protection.

More formally, EMS is "a system and database which integrates procedures and processes for training of personnel, monitoring, summarizing, and reporting of specialized environmental performance information to internal and external stakeholders of a firm."[1]

EMS is typically reported using International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 to help understand the EMS process.[2]

An environmental management information system (EMIS) is an information technology solution for tracking environmental data for a company as part of their overall environmental management system.[3]


The goals of EMS are to increase compliance and reduce waste:[4]

  • Compliance is the act of reaching and maintaining minimal legal standards. By not being compliant, companies may face fines, government intervention or may not be able to operate.
  • Waste reduction goes beyond compliance to reduce environmental impact. The EMS helps to develop, implement, manage, coordinate and monitor environmental policies. Waste reduction begins at the design phase through pollution prevention and waste minimization. At the end of the life cycle, waste is reduced by recycling.[1]


An environmental management system (EMS):[2]

  • Serves as a tool, or process, to improve environmental performance and information mainly "design, pollution control and waste minimization, training, reporting to top management, and the setting of goals"
  • Provides a systematic way of managing an organization’s environmental affairs
  • Is the aspect of the organization’s overall management structure that addresses immediate and long-term impacts of its products, services and processes on the environment. EMS assists with planning, controlling and monitoring policies in an organization.
  • Gives order and consistency for organizations to address environmental concerns through the allocation of resources, assignment of responsibility and ongoing evaluation of practices, procedures and processes
  • Creates environmental buy-in from management and employees and assigns accountability and responsibility.
  • Sets framework for training to achieve objectives and desired performance.
  • Helps understand legislative requirements to better determine a product or service's impact, significance, priorities and objectives.
  • Focuses on continual improvement of the system and a way to implement policies and objectives to meet a desired result. This also helps with reviewing and auditing the EMS to find future opportunities.
  • Encourages contractors and suppliers to establish their own EMS.

EMS Model[edit]

The PDCA cycle[5]

An EMS follows a Plan-Do-Check-Act, or PDCA, Cycle. The diagram shows the process of first developing an environmental policy, planning the EMS, and then implementing it. The process also includes checking the system and acting on it. The model is continuous because an EMS is a process of continual improvement in which an organization is constantly reviewing and revising the system.[6]

This is a model that can be used by a wide range of organizations — from manufacturing facilities to service industries to government agencies.

ISO 14000 and ISO 14001[edit]

ISO 14000 refers to a family of voluntary standards and guidance documents to help organizations develop and implement an environmental management program. Included in the family are standards for environmental management systems, environmental and EMS auditing, environmental labeling, performance evaluation, life-cycle assessment and product standards.[7] This system of standards was developed to increase environmental practices worldwide and to ease trade while reducing trade barriers.[2]

In September 1996, the International Organization for Standardization published the first edition of ISO 14001, the environmental management systems standard. This is an international voluntary standard describing specific requirements for an EMS. ISO 14001 is a specification standard to which an organization may receive certification or registration. ISO 14001 is considered the foundation document of the entire series. A second edition of ISO 14001 was published in 2004, updating the standard.

ISO14001 is the dominant environmental management system in the world.[8]

Development of standards[edit]

All the ISO standards are developed through a voluntary, consensus-based approach. ISO has different member countries across the globe. Each member country develops its position on the standards and these positions are then negotiated with other member countries. Draft versions of the standards are sent out for formal written comment and each country casts its official vote on the drafts at the appropriate stage of the process. Within each country, various types of organizations can and do participate in the process. These organizations include industry, government (federal and state), and other interested parties, like various non-government organizations. For example, EPA and states participated in the development of the ISO 14001 standard and are now evaluating its usefulness through a variety of pilot projects.

Legislation and standards[edit]

The Environmental liability directive [ELD] 2004/35/EC is one of the most important instruments that your business will need to comply with and must be included in you EMS. It came into force across Europe during 2009 and for example it became law on the 1st March 2009 converting the various national Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPGs) such as the UK PPG11, PPG18 and PPG21 into requirements where failure to comply can result in fines and more significantly reformation / reinstatement costs which can run into many millions of Euro or Dollars. Within this Directive is a requirement to mitigate the effects of events such as spills and firewater, the latter is the runoff from fires.

Within the European Union (EU) legislation was introduced to encourage businesses to voluntarily adopt ISO 14000.

Regulation (EC) No 761/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2001, first allowed voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). Later it was repealed by Regulation (EC) No 1221/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009, which is currently in force.

The implementation of a robust EMS, which may incorporate ISO 14001, should lead to improve environmental performance, including better and more consistent legal compliance.

The ISO 14000 standards[9] reflect different aspects of environmental management. The following list outlines the broad coverage of each:

  • Environmental management systems:
    • 14001-2004, 14002, 14004
  • Environmental Auditing:
    • 14011
  • Environmental Labelling:
    • 14020, 14021, 14022, 14023, 14024, 14025
  • Life Cycle Assessment:
    • 14040, 14044


  • Cost savings through the reduction of waste and more efficient use of natural resources (electricity, water, gas and fuels.)
  • Avoiding fines and penalties from not meeting environmental legislation by identifying environmental risks and addressing weaknesses.
  • Reduction in insurance costs by demonstrating better risk management...

Operational and internal[edit]

  • Improved overall performance and efficiency.
  • Able to monitor and reflect (audit) your business and see which areas need intervention.

Eco-Management and Audit Scheme[edit]

The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is the EU’s voluntary environmental management instrument. The scheme has been available for participation by companies since 1995 and was originally restricted to companies in industrial sectors.Since 2001 EMAS has been open to all economic sectors including public and private services and since 2010 EMAS certification is also possible for organisations and sites located outside the EU Community, under the title of EMAS Global. Currently, more than 4,500 organisations and approximately 7,800 sites are EMAS registered.[10]

The ISO 14001: 2004 requirements are a part of EMAS, but EMAS adds several elements to these:

  • stricter requirements on the measurement and evaluation of environmental performance against set targets according to six environmental core indicators. This creates multi-annual comparability within and between organisations;
  • compliance with environmental legislation ensured by government supervision: the compliance check is executed by an independent and external environmental verifier, who is in turn subjected to quality checks by national government authorities (EMAS Competent Bodies);
  • requirement of employee involvement;
  • provision of information to the general public through the obligation to publish an annual public environmental statement that is independently verified;
  • registration by a public authority after verification by an accredited/licensed environmental verifier; and
  • registered organisations can use the EMAS logo to communicate their EMAS compliance

EMAS provides registered organisations with the following six performance indicators: Energy efficiency, Material efficiency, Water, Waste, Biodiversity, Emissions. In its environmental statement, the organisation sets into relation input and output for each indicator; i.e. energy consumption per product produced. The indicators make a statement about an organisation’s process efficiency and effectiveness. They are indicators of inputs and outputs that can identify savings and contribute to an organisation’s cost reduction, in particular through increased resource efficiency. Surveys show that EMAS registrations can result in significant reductions in material and energy consumption – particularly in resource-intensive sectors. The generated cost reductions then outweigh the implementation costs of EMAS.[11]

EMAS also has specific provisions in place to facilitate EMAS-registration for small and medium sized organisations. EMAS easy, a lean and standardized methodology, has been developed with small and micro businesses in mind, and registration cycles can be extended by a year, thereby easing administrative and financial burdens on these organisations.

Other meanings[edit]

An EMS can also be classified as

  • a system which monitors, tracks and reports emissions information, particularly with respect to the oil and gas industry. EMSs are becoming web-based in response to the EPA's mandated greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting rule, which allows for reporting GHG emissions information via the internet.[12]
  • a centrally controlled and often automated network of devices (now frequently wireless using z-wave and zigbee technologies) used to control the internal environment of a building. Such a system namely acts as an interface between end user and energy (gas/electricity) consumption.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sroufe, Robert. "Effects of Environmental Management Systems on Environmental Management Practices and Operations." Production and Operations Management. 12-3 (2003): 416-431.
  2. ^ a b c Melnyk, Steven A., Robert P. Sroufe, and Roger Calantone. "Assessing the Impact of Environmental Management Systems on Corporate and Environmental Performance."
  3. ^ El-Gayar, Omar; Fritz, Brian D. (2006). "34". "Environmental Management Information Systems (EMIS) for Sustainable Development: A Conceptual Overview". Communications of the Association for Information Systems (Association for Information Systems) 17. ISSN 1529-3181. OCLC 796028508. 
  4. ^ Sayre, D., 1996. Inside ISO 14001: the competitive advantage of environmental management. St. Lucie Press, Delray,Beach, FL.
  5. ^ "Taking the First Step with PDCA". 2 February 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Gastl, R: CIP in Environmental Management, an abstract of Gastl, R: Kontinuierliche Verbesserung im Umweltmanagement, 2nd Edition, 2009, vdf, Zurich Switzerland.
  7. ^ Tibor, T., Feldman, I., 1996. ISO 14001: A Guide to the New Environmental Management Standards. Irwin, Burr Ridge, IL.
  8. ^ http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-5540995/Judicious-incentives-international-public-policy.html
  9. ^ http://webstore.ansi.org/FindStandards.aspx?Action=displaydept&DeptID=230&Acro=ISO%20&DpName=ISO%20ICS%2013.020%20-%20ISO%2014000%20-%20Environmental%20Management
  10. ^ European Commission. EMAS
  11. ^ Milieu and Risk Policy Analysts (2009): “Study on the Costs and Benefits of EMAS to Registered Organisations”. [1]
  12. ^ http://www.commengineering.com/commtracker-ems.html
  13. ^ http://www.echome.co.uk/renewable-energy-services/heating-and-lighting-controls/


  • Boiral, O 2007, ‘Corporate Greening Through IS0 14001: A Rational Myth?’, Organisation Science, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 127–146.
  • Burden, L. (2010). "How to up the EMS ante". 
  • Clements, R.B 1996, Complete Guide to ISO 14000, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.
  • Florida, R., & Davison, D. (2001). Gaining from green management: Environmental management systems inside and outside the factory. California Management Review, 43 (3), 64-85.
  • Gastl, R (2009). "CIP in Environmental Management". "English management summary of: Gastl, R 2009, Kontinuierliche Verbesserung im Umweltmanagement - die KVP-Forderung der ISO 14001 in Theorie und Unternehmenspraxis, 2nd Edition, vdf, Zurich-Switzerland" 
  • Melnyk, Steven A., Robert P. Sroufe, and Roger Calantone (2003). "Assessing the Impact of Environmental Management Systems on Corporate and Environmental Performance". Journal of Operations Management 21 (3): 329–51. doi:10.1016/S0272-6963(02)00109-2. 
  • Sroufe, Robert. "Effects of Environmental Management Systems on Environmental Management Practices and Operations." Production and Operations Management. 12-3 (2003): 416-431.

External links[edit]

Other benefits can be found on the Envirowise website, a UK Government funded portal.