Technical Q&A: Environmental Management Systems
Technical Q&A: Environmental Management Systems
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Technical Q&A: Environmental Management Systems
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Environmental management systems can help develop sustainable programs by providing a framework that sets goals, develps procedures, effective communication and training and process tracking, all essential elements of both an EMS and sustainability program.

Q : How can an environmental management system help me develop my sustainability program?

An environmental management system (EMS), especially one that conforms to International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 14001, provides the framework for a successful sustainability program. The heart of an ISO 14001 EMS is an environmental policy supported by members of an organization at all levels, especially by upper management responsible for allocating resources and monitoring results. A clearly stated and well-supported environmental policy guides goal setting, development of procedures, effective communication and training, and progress tracking — essential elements of both an EMS and a successful sustainability program.

An ISO 14001 EMS also requires an aspects-and-impacts analysis that examines how the organization’s activities, products or services interact with the environment. This analysis provides a springboard for developing ways to enhance positive impacts and decrease negative impacts. It can be helpful in discovering items that might otherwise be overlooked and in ranking aspects in terms of significance.

Finally, an ISO 14001-conforming EMS is expected to show continual improvement using a plan-do-check-act model. A sustainability program is not static; it is an ongoing effort that should continue to evolve and improve. Whether an EMS is already in existence or is developed in the course of creating a sustainability program, it can be a valuable tool in implementing a sustainability program with measurable, verifiable results.

For more information, contact Tom Wagner, 314-682-1570.

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