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Implement an Environmental Management System

An Environmental Management System (EMS) can help your organisation meet legal obligations, improve environmental performance, increase resource efficiency and cut costs.

What is an Environmental Management System?

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a structured, organised method of controlling and reducing the environmental impact of your operations and ensuring legal compliance. Although having an EMS is not typically demanded by law, an operating EMS is strongly encouraged by regulatory authorities under some environmental permits and increasingly, an EMS is required by buyers.

Implementing a certified EMS, will help you to:

  • comply with legislation and avoid the risk of costly fines and damage to your business reputation;
  • improve resource efficiency and reduce unnecessary expenditure, as environment-related costs are increasing faster than normal inflation;
  • set achievable improvement targets;
  • communicate your company’s environmental credentials to employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders; and
  • control your processes so that impact on the environment is minimised.

How to implement an Environmental Management System in eight stages

  1. Identify significant environmental aspects and impacts.
  2. Identify legislation and evaluating compliance.
  3. Write and communicate an environmental policy.
  4. Set and track objectives and targets.
  5. Measure and monitoring data.
  6. Control operations and demonstrate emergency preparedness and response.
  7. Check and audit progress.
  8. Carry out a management review.

Once you have developed your EMS, implementing it requires a cyclical process based on ‘plan, do, check and review’, with the overarching aim of continual improvement.

EMS Building Blocks is a complete guide that guides you through each stage of the EMS process. Following the instructions in the publication will help you to carry out the key tasks needed to implement an EMS in your business.

Useful materials

The EMS Building Blocks guide contains links to arrange of useful tools and templates that will help you implement your EMS, including:

Environmental aspects and impacts registerUse this template to record your organisation’s environmental aspects, the potential environmental impacts and if they are significant. It provides basic examples and can be edited to suit your organisation.

Legal registerThis is a template for a legal register that can be adapted to include details of environmental legislation and guidance appropriate to your organisation.

Objectives and targetsUse this template to record your objectives, targets and management programmes. It is a basic template that can be edited to suit your organisation.

Emergency preparedness. A template to help you to identify the measures you can take to control the risk from abnormal environmental aspects. It is a basic template that can be edited to suit your organisation.

Measuring and monitoring resource use. A range of templates that will help you collate and analyse your energy, water and waste measurement data.

Internal audit schedule. This is a template for an internal audit schedule that you can use to plan your internal audit activities. It is a basic template that can be edited to suit your organisation.

Audit checklist. Here is a sample audit checklist and report that you can customise to match your needs.

EMS document index. Use this template to record your EMS documents and procedures. It provides basic examples and can be edited to suit your organisation.

Get support and recognition for your hard work

As the driving force for embedding energy and resource efficiency, you may also want to get support and recognised for all the hard work you're putting into your initiative. Our Green Champions Training is a free online training course provided for Scottish organisations. The modules complement the implementation of your organisation's EMS and the training provides you with a certificate of recognition on completion - a great boost to your personal CV to further enhance your credentials.

Find out more about the Green Champions free online training


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