What Is An EMS?

environmental-managementIncreasingly both public and private organizations are recognizing the importance of environmental management for long-term viability, risk management, cost-effectiveness, and client relations. This increased emphasis has led to an increase in need for professionals with a solid understanding of sustainability and environmental management systems.

The green jobs market is growing rapidly, and with it the demand for highly-qualified environmental professionals.

In this guest post Christopher A Young defines environmental management and its implications for businesses, governments and institutions.

What is an EMS?

It is a method of developing standards and policies to reduce the environmental impact of an organization. An environmental management system can be either formal or informal, developed by external experts or informally using internal resources.

In general, an environmental management program will cover a wide range of environmental issues, including some if not all of the following:

  • Air pollution
  • Ecosystem, wildlife, and habitat impacts
  • Energy consumption
  • Environmental clean-up and remediation
  • Environmental performance of contractors and vendors
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Hazardous waste management
  • Indoor air quality
  • Land use patterns
  • Raw materials use
  • Solid waste production and recycling
  • Toxic chemical use
  • Wastewater management
  • Water consumption (indoor, outdoor, and in manufacturing or industrial processes)
  • Water quality measurement

The issues covered by a particular organization’s environmental management program will depend greatly on the nature of the work and the desired outcomes. Generally, it will provide the following structures:

  • Audit of current environmental activities, waste production, energy and water use, and other environmental factors
  • Development of written policies and procedures as part of a broad internal environmental policy
  • Create benchmarks to conserve energy and water, shrink emissions and pollution, conserve land and habitat, and limit waste production and chemical use
  • Provide training and awareness for employees and stakeholders
  • Measure results, which can be used for environmental certifications and compliance reporting

To get a detailed description of what is included in an EMS like ISO 14001 and whether it is right for you check out this article.

About the Author Staff Writer

Our writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.

Leave a Comment:

Roderick Wilcock says August 20, 2012

Good day i would just like to ask the question . We are a company just starting with the intro of Iso – 14001 . the stumbling block we have come up against is the legal side of the system , where legal registers are wanting because of knowing what to dom , and what you cannot do. Where do we get such info. we are in the tshwane province of gauteng, yet we cannot access such info . Hoping you can give me some pointers.

    Mark Whitman says August 20, 2012

    Hi Roderick,
    Thanks for your getting in touch. Under the ISO14001 system the legal register sets out all the relevant local, national and international environmental legislation that could have an influence on the duty of care for an organisation. The legal register identifies the important parts of the legislation or regulations that an organisation needs to be aware of in order to fulfil its legal obligation. Typically you will need to employ a consultant to help you identify this legislation. As a starting point you could Google environmental legislation for South Africa. This seems to be your main act: NEMA – South Africa National Environmental Management Act – Legislation and Environmental Acts. This information provides information on South African legislation. http://www.environment.co.za/legislation-law/
    All the best,

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