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The Importance Of Implementing Environmental Management Systems Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 2630 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In the latest Living Planet Report construction and road building was noted as being one of the largest drivers of biodiversity loss due to human activities (WWF, 2008). As global concern about society’s impact on the environment rises, the pressure on organisations to work to a higher environmental standard is increasing. With the ever growing awareness and significance of environmental impact the successful implementation of an effective Environmental Management System (EMS) is becoming more important that ever before.

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Purpose/ Rationale (Background to topic)

The rationale for this dissertation is that by successfully implementing an EMS organisations can improve their environmental performance and therefore help reduce the negative effects human activity has on the environment. Incorporating an EMS will not help manage the environment directly but instead concentrates on installing environmental goals into everyday procedures with the aim of reducing an organisations negative impacts (Sheldon, Yoxon, 2006, page 2). Developing a culture of care through environmental training, awareness and communication may assist organisations in improving their environmental performance.

BS EN ISO 14001 provides guidance for organizations “concerned with achieving and demonstrating sound environmental performance” to develop systems to manage their environmental responsibilities. Developing an environmental policy without certification to standards with the aim of representing an EMS is possible (Hyde and Reeve, 2006). However, compliance to standards provides a number of benefits. For an organisation to meet the requirements of an ISO based EMS it must also incorporate “training, awareness and competence”. As BS EN ISO 14001 states any person who’s duties may cause significant environmental damage must be able to conform to the training awareness and competence requirements as stated in the EMS. Almost all roles within the construction industry will impact on the environment in one way or another for example physical during the construction phase or indirectly during the design process. Therefore it is vital that each member of an organisation regardless of position or role must be aware and take responsibility for environmental management. In turn this will also alleviate some of the pressures placed upon specialised environmental departments allowing them to work more efficiently. Placing responsibility across all team members in this manner can be achieved through training, awareness and communication schemes that are relevant to the daily practices of the organisation.

Through implementing awareness based EMS’s that are compliant with certified standards organisations may be able to develop a culture of care for environmental awareness and commit to improving their environmental performance.

As stated in the governments Strategy for sustainable construction, 2008, page 1,

“It is clear that we cannot meet our declared environmental targets without dramatically reducing the environmental impact of buildings and infrastructure construction; we have to change the way we design and build”


The aim of this dissertation is to explore the gap between EMS theory and practice in construction and develop strategies for bridging the gap using training, awareness and communication schemes.


What constitutes an EMS? i.e. EMAS, ISO14000 etc.

Determine the difficulties that are faced when implementing an EMS in the construction industry.

Investigate the changing relationships between hierarchal levels and environmental awareness and how this relationship can affect an organisations environmental performance.

Identify the commonly used strategies for implementing the training, awareness and competence elements of an EMS in construction projects.

Develop a typical training scheme that could be used to implement a successful EMS in a site based environment.


Brief description of the methodology used in the study.


Explanation of and introduction to the structure of the study.

Chapter 2 – Environmental Management Systems?

Importance of Environmental Management.

Over the past few years both public and corporate attention has been drawn towards the negative impacts that humanity is having on the planet.

What is an EMS?

Environmental Management Systems are used by organisations to monitor and control any negative impacts that they may have on the environment. As with most management systems the main objective of an EMS is to allow relevant information to be conveyed effectively through an organisation. As Sheldon and Yoxon (2006) identify this allows areas of concern to be assessed with the relevant information in place before the issue can worsen. An EMS will usually contains the organisational structure, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for determining and implementing environmental policy (Netherwood, 1996). Through developing an EMS organisations will be able to identify the most significant impacts that are relevant to the company. This will in turn allow resources and procedures to be focused and prioritised on the issues with the highest demand.

The Defra position statement on EMS state that to contribute to improved environmental performance, a good EMS should:

Be implemented at a strategic level and integrated into corporate plans, and policies.

Top-level commitment is required so that senior management understand their role in ensuring the success of an EMS.

Identify the organisation’s impacts on the environment and set clear objectives and targets to improve their management of these aspects as well as the organisation’s overall environmental performance.

Be designed to deliver and manage compliance with environmental laws and regulation on an ongoing basis, and will quickly instigate corrective and preventative action in cases of legal con-compliance.

Deliver good resource management and financial benefits.

Incorporate assured performance metrics that demonstrate the above and that can be communicated in a transparent manner in annual reports.

What are the differences between ISO14001, EMAS, etc.?

Organisations that implement standardised EMS’s are faced with the decision of which standards to certify their EMS under. Currently the two most commonly used standards are the European Eco-management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and the worldwide ISO 14001 series. Although EMAS was the first EMS to be developed and in 1993 was released a year before ISO 14001, as part of the ISO family of standards ISO 14001 is now the most recognised and commonly implemented system. Further to a recent amendment to EMAS, compliance to ISO 14001 is now required to become certified with EMAS. In addition to ISO14001 compliance companies must also accomplish additional duties to become fully accredited members of EMAS. One of the main differences between ISO14001 and EMAS is that to gain EMAS accreditation an organisation must publish it environmental statement. In publishing the statement this will open the organisations environmental practices to further scrutiny in particular from members of the public, press and other stakeholders. These external pressures may have the effect of increasing the companies desire to comply with their outlined environmental practise. An ISO system however does not place this duty on organisations and is instead a system used to enhance environmental performance and ensure legal compliance using internal management focus (Freimann and Walther, 2002).

Why implement EMAS?

EMAS is a voluntary scheme, therefore the question why would companies choose to participate in the scheme must be asked. R. Starkey as edited by Welford (1998) notes that although entire organisations can be in conformance with ISO 14001, only sites where industrial activities are taking place can be certified by EMAS.


How does the organisation of a company affect their EMS’s?

Environmental Law and responsibilities

EMS law developed out of EIA law????

A common reason for implementing an EMS is due to difficulties in maintaining environmental due diligence within the parameters of the law (Sheldon, Yoxdon, 2006). During the introduction of EMSs they were mainly centred around keeping organisations working practices within environmental legislation and legal compliance (Watson and Emery, 2007). Although the focus of EMS may now be towards … it sill remains and important to identify relevant legislation and keep this at the heart of the system. Defra’s position statement states that a good EMS should be “designed to deliver and manage compliance with environmental laws and regulation on an ongoing basis, and will quickly instigate corrective and preventative action in cases of legal con-compliance”.

It effects over eight different elements of ISO 14001 and even further in EMAS as companies can be “de-registered” for any breach relevant regulatory requirements (Sheldon, Yoxdon, 2006, pg 78).

Typically, environmental statutes establish a regulatory structure consisting of a system of permits and licences (often described as “control and command”, or “the right to pollute”) (Yarnell, 1993).



Implementation and operation


Management Review

Environmental Policy

Continual Improvement

Based on the ISO 14001 model for implementation.

Challenges in Implementing EMS

Often poor and ineffective management systems can be blamed for the downfall of some organisations environmental practices. Having an ineffective EMS can often lead to incurred costs, additional remedial work and damage to the companies reputation (Welford, 1998). Many challenges are faced by organisation looking to invest in implementation of an EMS, most commonly these include:

Figure 1 – (Kirkland and Thompson, 1999)

However ignorance can not be used as a defence for non-compliance and can often be closer attributed to negligence. If this is the case non-compliance can result in fines and in some case may result in convictions for company directors (Welford, 1998). Some organisations may also find that the initial outlay for implementing a new EMS produces no immediate benefits. Often managers can only see these costs and can be blind towards the potential cost benefits of EMS introduction such as avoiding legal costs and fines, remedial work, savings in waste disposal and energy use and also the benefits that come with an overall improved public image. However the long term environmental benefits and improved business processes must be the main focus when introducing a new EMS.

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Training awareness and competence

A common obstacle in EMS implementation is a lack of engagement from staff this can often be attributed to a lack of knowledge or understanding of the impacts their work on the environment. One method of overcoming these difficulties and successfully developing a theoretical EMS into a practical management system is through the use of awareness training.

As stated in ISO 14001:

“The organization shall ensure that any person(s) performing tasks for it or on its behalf that have the potential to cause a significant environmental impact(s) identified by the organization is (are) competent on the basis of appropriate education, training or experience, and shall retain associated records.”

Through environmental awareness training employees must be made aware of the following elements:

The importance of complying with the environmental policy and procedures and the requirements of the EMS.

The actual or potential impacts of their work and how improving their personal performance can benefit the environment.

Their roles and responsibilities in meeting the requirements of the EMS, and

The potential consequences of non-conformance with procedures. (ISO 14001)

How do you measure competence?

Technical competence is one of the factors in measuring awareness and competence. This element ensures that employees have a sound technical knowledge and have the relevant skills to undertake their duties without causing negative impacts on the environment.

What are the usual or recommended methods of training?

Yarnell (1999) identifies that EMS training can be split into three different types of training these are as follows:

Awareness training

Competence training

Senior management education.

How aware do team members need to be?


Chapter 3 – Methodology


Qualitative/ quantitative benefits of each


Justification of chosen method

Guidelines for section:

What type of research was used?

Why was this approach chosen?

What type of data was gained by the research?

Who was involved and how were participants selected?

What equipment/ instruments were used?

Where and when did the investigation take place?

How was the investigation conducted and why was it done this way?

How was data collected, analysed and presented?

Stage 1 – Literature research

This study will review the relevant literature on the matter of Environmental management systems in particular looking at implementation, maintenance, awareness, training and communication. Initial research indicates that there is varied range of literature available to review. This includes legislative publications, textbooks, and journals such as “Using a communication-mapping model for environmental management (CMEM) to improve environmental performance in project development processes” (Tam, Shen, Yau, Tam, 2007).

Research commence searching in Athens, INFORMAWORLD, Engineering and Technology, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Management Plans Demystified , Civil Engineering and Environmental Systems

Stage 2 – Case Study and Exploratory Questionnaires

The questions shall centre around the areas mentioned in the objectives above. To receive the highest possible level of response, a multi-choice format will be used and the number of questions will be limited to about 20 – 30. Open questions will not be used as they can produce a wide variety of answers depending on the respondent’s interpretation of the question. Furthermore, with potentially varied and lengthy responses, the analyses of the results can be considerably more difficult.

Stage 3 – Writing up

This stage involves writing up the content of the dissertation and should cover the chapters proposed below.

Chapter 4 – Case Study (M80)


M80 Stepps to Haggs overview

Review of Environmental Management Plan

Review of other relevant documentation

Review of Roles and Responsibilities

Chapter 5 – Discussion of Finding

Review of literature findings

Case Study

Does practice match literature review?

Gap analysis

How can the gap be filled?

Chapter 6 – Conclusions



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