ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (EMS) 14001

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Whether you're establishing an environmental management system, pursuing certification to the ISO 14001 standard, or just looking to improve your environmental and sustainability practices, Clarionttech's environmental management systems courses can help.
 

An environmental management system, also known as an EMS, can be developed in compliance with theISO 14001 standard as part of an organization’s strategy to implement its environmental policy and address governmental regulations. An EMS focuses resources on meeting the commitments identified in the organization’s policy. As specified in Environmental Management: Quick and Easy, by Joe Kausek, these commitments could include reducing or eliminating the negative environmental impacts of its products, services, and activities and/or increasing their positive effects.      

The three primary processes of a management system include:

  • Core processes, their outputs, and the identification of significant environmental aspects and impacts
  • Key supporting processes, such as those for maintaining awareness of legal requirements, ensuring competency of employees, providing infrastructure, communicating EMS information, and monitoring and evaluating environmental performance
  • Management system supporting processes, such as document control, record control, and internal auditing

Like many management systems, environmental management systems reinforce a need to align processes into integrated systems of processes, all focused on providing the highest value to the customer. In this sense, the primary customer of the EMS is the local, regional, and global environment. Secondary customers may include the organization’s owners or shareholders, customers, government agencies, and employees.

Featured courses

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) ISO 14001 Lead auditor
Environmental Management Systems (EMS) ISO 14001 Internal auditor

ISO 14001 and EMS

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed an international standard, ISO 14001, to specify requirements for environmental management systems. According to ISO, more than 300,000 organizations in 171 countries have certified to ISO 14001.

The standard was revised in 2015. As part of the development process, ISO conducted a continual improvement survey to develop an understanding of the needs of current, past, and potential users.

The purpose of the ISO 14001 management system standard is to specify general requirements and guidelines that, when followed, should provide reasonable assurance that the outputs from the system will have minimal negative environmental impact and improved environmental performance. It should be noted that the ISO 14001 standard is nonprescriptive; that is, it details what should be done, not necessarily how to do it.

The ISO 14001 standard is developed around W. Edwards Deming’s plan-do-check-act (PDCA) model of improvement, an iterative process that must be applied regularly to ensure benefits are being realized and the standard is being upheld. The primary operational components of an ISO 14001 EMS can be grouped as follows:
 

  1. Create/update environmental policy
  2. Plan:
    1. Environmental aspects
    2. Legal and other requirements
    3. Objectives, targets, and programs
  3. Do:
    1. Resources, responsibilities, and authority
    2. Competence, training, and awareness
    3. Communication
    4. Documentation
    5. Control of documents
    6. Operational control
    7. Emergency preparedness and response
  4. Check:
    1. Monitor and measure
    2. Evaluate compliance
    3. Nonconformity, corrective and preventive action
    4. Control of records
    5. Internal audits
  5. Act:
    1. Management review
    2. ISO 14001 audit

This section adapted from Joe Kausek’s Environmental Management: Quick and Easy.

Benefits: How can an EMS help your organization?

Overall, the advantages of using an environmental management system include:

  • Ensuring a holistic approach to environmental impacts
  • Focusing on only critical aspects and processes
  • Making use of time-tested, mature approaches recognized worldwide
  • Establishing positive relationships with regulators

Economic benefits of implementing an environmental management system or good environmental stewardship that an organization can expect are discussed in greater detail in Joe Kausek’s book . Kausek identifies four significant economic benefits:

  1. Corporate reputation and image
  2. Lower environmentally related costs and fees
  3. Increased access to new customers
  4. Direct savings through environmental source reduction

Susan L.K. Briggs discusses the ways to measure and show value of an EMS within an organization in her article “Do Environmental Management Systems Improve Performance?” In addition to the obvious quantifiable benefits in reductions in pollutant emissions and waste, there are three approaches to measuring improvements within an organization:

  • Management system improvement—qualitative and quantitative improvements to management support processes, such as employee training and awareness, compliance assurance processes or corrective/preventative action programs
  • Organizational reputation—unquantifiable improvements in an organization’s reputation or improved relations with regulatory bodies, community organizations, or other interested parties
  • Financial benefits—quantitative cost savings or cost avoidance associated with any of the improvements