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Issue Summary
U.S. EPA
Organizations/Non-Government Programs
Publications


Issue Summary

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a set of problem identification and problem solving tools that local governments can use, organization-wide or in a specific department, to save money and protect environmental resources by reducing waste, improving efficiency, and integrating environmental stewardship into everyday operations. An EMS provides a systems-based approach patterned after the Shewart & Deming model of Plan-Do-Check-Act. An EMS helps organizations address their regulatory demands in a systematic and cost-effective manner. This proactive approach can help reduce the risk of non-compliance or environmental liability and improve health and safety practices for employees and the public.

Benefits from implementing an EMS can include improved ability to meet compliance requirements; increased efficiency, reduced costs and greater operational consistency; improved environmental awareness, involvement and competency throughout the organization; better communication about environmental issues inside and outside the organization; and better relationships with regulators.

EMS's are most commonly modeled on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)'s 14001 standard. ISO 14001 is a set of international, voluntary management practices that allow an organization to analyze, control, and reduce its environmental impact while increasing operating efficiency. Once an EMS is developed and implemented, some local governments register for ISO 14001 designation.

U.S. EPA

EPA Environmental Management Systems. The EPA's Web site on EMS provides information and resources related to EMSs for businesses, associations, the public, and state and federal agencies. Users can read about developing an EMS, EPA's EMS policies, and find publications and tools developed by EPA to assist with implementing EMS.

Organizations/Non-Government Programs

International Network for Environmental Management. This Web site contains articles, case studies, and tools on environmental management, as well as links to other EMS sites.

American National Standards Institute. Explains the ISO 14000, the voluntary standards upon which all EMS are based.

Publications

EPA EMS Publications and Resources. EPA has developed a number of guidance documents to assist an organization in development and implementation of an EMS.

EMS: A Better Bottom Line for Local Government. This fact sheet identifies the types of economic benefits that local governments are experiencing with EMSs. Experience has proven that investment in an EMS can mean money saved, reduced insurance premiums, improved bond ratings, and greater regulatory flexibility, as well as improved confidence on the management of environmental issues.

Environmental Management Systems: A Guidebook for Improving Energy and Environmental Performance in Local Government. This guidebook, produced by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), helps local governments implement and integrate improved management processes and practices to enable them to reduce their environmental impacts and increase their operating efficiency. The guidebook is a tool to help walk municipalities through the EMS implementation process with a minimum of outside support.

EMS Case Studies in the Public Water Sector. This report, prepared by the PEER Center, examines how EMS can assist wastewater and drinking water facilities achieve environmental excellence. It contains case studies of local utilities that have implemented EMS to achieve important environmental results.

IEMS Implementation Guide. This document can help organizations create and document their own integrated EMSs (IEMSs) by providing information on the steps involved with developing an IEMS. It provides simple, thorough directions that are clear even to those unfamiliar with environmental management planning.

Continual Improvement in Utility Management: A Framework for Integration. This guide, produced by the by the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), responds to a defined need within utility management by providing a roadmap showing how a collective group of management initiatives interrelate and how a utility can best approach integrating them in the context of a continual improvement management system framework.

A Primer for Local Governments on Environmental Liability. The Local Government Environmental Assistance Network (LGEAN) developed this primer to raise awareness about local government environmental liability and providing information that can be used to develop a system-wide response to environmental risks. The primer contains information that forms the basis for a local government's assessment of their environmental risks and the formation of a program that prevents liabilities both now and into the future.