- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 05 Jul 2018
Environmental management system
An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a set of processes or practices that enable an organisation to reduce its overall environmental impacts whilst increasing its operating efficiency. It is a framework that enables a company to achieve its environmental goals through a consistent approach. Each organisation should have a system that is tailored to its specific goals and business.
Whilst EMSs are voluntary they demonstrate an explicit commitment to continual environmental improvement. They can also be used to:
- Assist employees understand their responsibility in relation to the environment.
- Ensure that all operations and actions have minimal impacts.
- Monitor environmental performance against a series of targets.
- Assist in identifying opportunities for waste reduction and other measures to reduce operating costs.
The benefits of implementing an EMS are not limited to a reduction in overall environmental impacts. They also include:
- Financial: Reduction in waste which in turn reduces costs, increased profits.
- Productivity: Improved process control, less waste, reduction in raw materials and consumables.
- Sales and marketing: Enhanced products, improved sales through promotion of greener credentials.
- Public relations: Enhanced public image.
- Legal: Management of environmental risk and ensuring legal compliance.
The content of an EMS varies depending on the nature of the business in question. However some key components include:
- Detailed assessment of the business activities, products, systems, processes and services and how they may affect the environment.
- Development of an environmental policy.
- Development of a programme for reducing environmental impacts.
- Clear roles and responsibilities for employees.
- Training and awareness programme for employees.
- Written and documented procedures to control activities with environmental impacts.
- A system for controlling documentation.
- Regular auditing to ensure conformance.
- Formal review by management.
For any organisation wishing to implement an Environmental Management System, there are three options available:
- Development of own in-house system.
- Use the guidelines within the international standard ISO 14001, the EU Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) or the British Standard BS8555.
- Follow the guidelines and pursue formal certification to ISO 14001 or EMAS registration.
Organisations can produce a manual to provide a clear and cohesive guide for all employees regarding their EMS. For more information, see Environmental management procedures manual.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- BREEAM Environmental management.
- BREEAM Responsible sourcing of materials.
- Chain of custody.
- Construction environmental management plan.
- Deleterious materials.
- Ecological impact assessment.
- Eco-Management and Audit Scheme EMAS.
- Energy targets.
- Environmental consultant.
- Environmental impact assessment.
- Environmental management procedures manual.
- Environmental modelling.
- Environmental plan.
- ISO 14001.
- Site waste management plan.
- Sustainable materials.
- Sustainable urban drainage systems.
- Whole life costs.
 External references
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