ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Environmental Management System
An environmental management system or EMS is a system for the management of environmental programs of an organization in a systematic, comprehensive, planned and documented way. An EMS contains the structure, resources and planning for the development, implementation and maintenance policy for the protection of the environment. The term environmental management system can also be utilized in reference to the software systems used for environmental management by an organization (Boiral, 2007).
An Environmental Management System works as a means for improving the environmental performance. EMS will provide the School of Global, Urban and Social Science with a systematic means for the management of its environmental affairs. It is the element of the overall management structure of the school which addresses short-term and long-term effects of its services, products, and process on the environment. EMS will give order and consistency for the school to deal with environmental issues via the proper allocation of resources, assigning of duties and continuing evaluation of procedures, practices and processes. Other benefits for the school implementing an Environmental Management System include: improvement of environmental performance; improved compliance; prevention of pollution; resource conservation; enhanced efficiency and reduced cost; improvement of the morale of the employees; improved image with regulators, public, lenders, and investors; and enhanced awareness of the environmental responsibilities and issues among employees (Boiral, 2007).
Some of the disadvantages of an Environmental Management System for the school include the use of the staff or management time. Development of a comprehensive Environmental Management System is a time consuming activity. Development of Environmental Management System also requires the use of outside consultants as within the school there might not be an expert to develop the system. The use of the system also requires training for the users as there might not be adequate skills and experience within the organization for its development, implementation, use and maintenance (Boiral, 2007).
The most common utilised framework for Environmental Management System is the one that is created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for the ISO 14001 standard. The standard was developed in September 1996 and is the certified international standard for an Environmental Management System. ISO 14001 is a global voluntary standard which describes particular requirements for an Environmental Management System. It is a certification standard to which the school can get registration or certification (Boiral, 2007).
The school has the choice of either having the Environment Management System accredited or not. There are various costs and benefits of having the system certified. An Environment Management System which is certified is a more thorough approach and tends to have greater publicity as well as marketing value. The cost of having such a system is that it necessitates more resources in implementing and ensuring that the accreditation is maintained. The accreditation process might also be time consuming for the school (Boiral, 2007).
Regardless of the cost, it would be more beneficial for the school to have the Environment Management System accredited. This is because the school is one of the organizations in which official accreditation has considerable value. Additionally, a more thorough approach to environmental management makes it easier to deal with the implications which are outside the office-based scope. The use of an Environment Management System which is accredited will add more value to the school, which is significant for its need for continued value (Boiral, 2007).
Summary of the content for the EMS
For a formal Environment Management System which is based on the ISO 14001 standard, there are fundamental components that should be included:
> environmental policy
> identification of important environmental impacts of activities, products and services
> identification of legal as well as other requirements
> development of targets, objectives, and programs
> ensuring roles, responsibilities, resources, and authorities are documented
> capability, training and awareness actions
> communication and documentation
> document and operational controls
> emergency preparedness and reaction
> monitoring and measurement
> evaluation of observance
> non-conformance, remedial and preventative action
> internal audit
> management review
According to Eccleston and March (2010) an environmental policy refer to the statement which is the communication of the policy within the organization and as well as outside to the clients and other stakeholders. This is done following the recognition of the impact the organisation has to the environment. The policy is therefore a written commitment by the school to environmental sustainability.
The School of Global, Urban and Social Science at RMIT identifies the impact of its activities upon the environment.
The school is committed to minimising the impact of its activities and processes on the environment as well as to continuously improve its environmental performance. The school is committed to addressing the environmental concern within its environs and ensure sustainable environmental concerns through providing awareness.
There are a number of key points for the school to achieve its strategy, which is:
Minimise any negative impact its services and operations have upon the environment through implementation of good environmental practices complying with national standards as well as international best practices.
Perform activities promoting recycling
Teach the importance of environmental conservation
Meet or exceed the environmental laws relating to the sector
The school will implement a training program for the students, staff and members of the communityEnvironmental actions and awareness will be integrated into the interdisciplinary curriculum
The school will support and encourage students and community initiatives in furthering good environmental practices
Environmental aspects and their associated impacts
Environmental aspects refer to the ‘element of an organization’s activities or products or services that can interact with the environment’ (ISO 14001:2004).
Impact is defined as ‘any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partly resulting from an organization’s environmental aspects’ (ISO 14001:2004).
There are various environmental aspects that the school is responsible for, both directly and indirectly, which have considerable impact on the environment. Identification of these aspects is important in realising their impact on the environment and thus important in developing objectives, programs and targets in addressing the resulting environmental problems.
Potential Aspect: Automobile, bus, truck emissions
Impact: increasing ground level ozone and global warming
Potential Aspect: Waste Generation
Impact: Disposal of Waste to Landfill
Potential Aspect: Electricity Consumption
Impact: global warming
Potential Aspect: Use of Ozone Depleting Substances
Impact: Ozone layer depletion
Potential Aspect: Spillage of Chemicals
Impact: Water pollution
Environmental management plan
An Environmental Management Plan (EMP) is an “an environmental management tool used to ensure that undue or reasonably avoidable adverse impacts of the construction, operation and decommissioning of a project are prevented; and that the positive benefits of the projects are enhanced”. Environmental Management Plans are thus significant tools for making sure that the management activities emanating from Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) activities are well defined all through the process of a project life-cycle (Hill 2000).
The general purpose of the Environmental Management Plan guideline is dual: informing and guiding the development and implementation of Environmental Management Plans in such a way that enhance the efficacy of Environmental Management Plans; as well as to help those in authority in evaluating the quality of Environmental Management Plans objectively. There are various significant components that are included in an Environmental Management Plan (Hill 2000).According to Hill (2000), the objectives of an Environmental Management Plan include:
Ensuring observance of the regulations and guidelines which could be local, provincial, national and/or international;
Ensuring effective allocation of resources on the budget of a project in order for the scale of activities related to Environmental Management Plan is in line with the implication of project impacts;
Verification of the environmental performance view information on the implications as they arise; response to changes in the implementation of the project not arising in the Environmental Impact Assessment; response to events that are unforeseen; and giving feedback for ongoing improvement in environmental performance.
Documents from the Environmental Impact Assessment are used in the development and implementation of the Environmental Management Plan. The documents will include the context for the Environmental Management Plan as well as important information on the suggested project, expected positive as well as negative effects, management actions in mitigating the negative ones, and the statement of commitment to the actions.
According to Hill (2000) various actions require to be carried out to ensure that the identified environmental impacts are addressed. Mitigation actions are aimed at elimination, off-setting, and reduction of the environmental impacts. It has such elements as:
Avoidance: Avoiding activities which have negative impacts, avoiding some kinds of resources or areas that are environmentally sensitive.
Prevention: actions with the aim of preventing the incidence of negative environmental impacts and/or preventing the incidence from having negative impact on the environment.
Preservation: Prevention of future activities which might negative impact on the environment.
Minimisation: reducing or limiting the level, extent, scale or period of negative impacts.
Rehabilitation: improving or repairing affected natural resources
Restoration: Restoration of affected resources to a previous state
Compensation: enhancement, creation, or protection of a similar kind of resource at another apposite and tolerable location.
Given that this some of these activities might take a long time to achieve, the project is expected to take a period of between 6 months and one year, with continuous modifications where required.
The project targets the community within the school and university and outside, that is, the surrounding community.
Members of the two communities will be involved in different stages of addressing environmental impacts initiated by the school. The management will have the responsibility of providing the required authorisation and resources. The members of the school community will initiate the efforts and creation of awareness to the outside community.
An audit is an analysis of the results gotten from monitoring, as well as the assessment of whether targets and objectives have been met as well as whether variances are there from the stipulated Environmental Management Plan and legal requirements. Audits will also be carried out to assess whether the Environmental Management Plan has been implemented in accordance to the arranged plan and whether the Environmental Management Plan is being well updated. This should show that the required corrections are made as well as the effectiveness of such corrections.
Boiral, O (2007). ‘Corporate Greening Through IS0 14001: A Rational Myth?’, Organisation
Science, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 127-146.
Eccleston C. and March F., (2010). Global Environmental Policy: Principles, Concepts And
Practice, CRC Press Inc
Hill R.C. (2000). Integrated Environmental Management Systems in the implementation of
projects. South African Journal of Science 96: 50-54.