What is an Environmental Management System (EMS)?
An Environmental Management System is a framework through which an organisation’s environmental performance can be monitored, improved and controlled. Steps for creating an EMS can be summarized
- Decide upon the organization’s environmental goals and set these down in the form of an Environmental Policy which has the buy-in from those at the top.
- Put together a team who will be responsible for EMS planning and implementation.
- Assess operations to identify what aspects could be impacting the environment in a negative way, and gather data on the use of resources within the organization – this can then be used for future monitoring purposes.
- Set objectives and targets to address the impacts identified, and formulate action plans for meeting each. This usually involves more efficient use of resources, such as water and energy, the reduction of waste generation and the minimization of other environmental impacts identified. Responsibilities and deadlines should also be assigned which helps identify the who, how, and when of implementation.
- Put together a good communication strategy to aid implementation and get the whole organization on board.
- Monitor progress, e.g. through tracking utility bills – this is key to the evaluation and review of the EMS, and also helps to motivate staff. This leads to continual improvement, which means the EMS can be enhanced year on year to better an organization’s environmental performance.
DoE’s Environmental Management System
The Department’s EMS was launched in July 2009, led by a specially convened ‘Green Team’ within the Department to implement the EMS. This team consists of the Director, Assistant Directors for Research and Operations, Finance Manager and Operations Manager as well as the Sustainable Development Unit. The main responsibilities of the Green Team are to implement improvements, monitor, evaluate and report on progress, identify further improvements and ensure all staff are aware and on board with the program.
To kick off at DOE, a reusable mug and cup were given to each staff member, signs were placed in various locations reminding people to turn off lights and appliances if they were the last to leave and stickers were placed at workstations as reminders to turn off computers, screens and power strips at the end of the day.
The EMS predominantly monitors aspects such as energy, water and fuel consumption for the Department’s operation on the three islands.