BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines an environmental management system (EMS) as that "part of the overall management system that includes organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining the environmental policy" (ISO, 1996). An EMS enables private companies, federal and state agencies, and other organizations to establish, and assess the effectiveness of, procedures to set environmental policy and objectives, achieve compliance, and demonstrate such compliance to others.
International standards covering EMSs provide organizations with the elements of an EMS that can be integrated with other management functions to help them attain environmental and economic goals. ISO 14000 is a family of standards intended to support environmental protection and prevent pollution in balance with socioeconomic needs. The international standard does not establish absolute requirements for environmental performance beyond commitment to compliance with applicable legislation and regulations and to continual improvement. Thus, two organizations carrying out similar activities but having different environmental performance may both comply with ISO 14000 requirements.
ISO 14000 encompasses 16 standards that address organizational issues and products. ISO 14001 is the EMS specification document outlining the requirements that an organization must meet for its EMS to be registered or certified to the standard. It is a tool to measure the effectiveness of environmental management programs. ISO 14001 is being used by private corporations to enhance their competitiveness in both foreign and domestic markets. Federal and other public agencies are evaluating the potential of ISO 14001 or alternative EMSs to improve performance, and some agencies have already launched pilot projects.
In 1996, the Federal Facilities Council (FFC), which operates under the aegis of the National Research Council, established a standing committee on Environmental Engineering with the express purpose of providing a forum where federal environmental engineers and program managers could meet on a
regular basis to exchange information about facilities-related environmental programs, policies, and issues. The committee members, like environmental program managers in other types of organizations, are increasingly concerned about achieving and demonstrating sound environmental performance by meeting the requirements of environmental regulations and limiting the impacts of their products or services on the environment. To foster communication and address concerns about EMSs, the FFC Standing Committee on Environmental Engineering hosted a one-day workshop on Environmental Management Systems and ISO 14001. The workshop was held April 9, 1998, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.
ORGANIZATION OF THIS REPORT
The next two sections of this report describe the structure of the workshop and summarize recurrent themes and issues that emerged during the course of the day. Narrative summaries of each presentation follow. Appendix A contains biographical sketches of the workshop's speakers. Appendix B contains a list of assistance and resource documents. Appendix C includes a list of Department of Defense (DOD) EMS pilot study sites.
The Workshop on Environmental Management Systems and ISO 14001 featured nine highly qualified speakers who shared their experiences with EMSs and ISO 14001 with an audience of approximately 50 federal, other public-sector, and private-sector environmental managers. George Glavis, chair of the FFC Standing Committee on Environmental Engineering, welcomed the speakers and participants to the workshop, described its purpose, and provided background information on the economic, social, and regulatory climate in which ISO 14001 and EMSs are to be implemented. He then introduced the keynote speaker, Joseph Cascio, lead U.S. delegate to the International Organization for Standardization and vice president of the Global Environment and Technology Foundation. Mr. Cascio gave an overview of EMSs and the principles of ISO 14001.
A panel discussion on the "Use of Environmental Management Systems and ISO 14001 in the Public Sector" was moderated by Mary McKiel, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Standards Network. Dr. McKiel discussed the accreditation program associated with ISO 14001, pointing out that the use of the standard is completely voluntary, as is registration or certification. The panel featured Sarah Walsh, project manager with the Federal Facilities Enforcement Office, EPA; Larry Stirling, Senior Environmental Protection Specialist, Department of Energy; Rick Drawbaugh, representing DOD, and Robert Stephens, Deputy Director for Science,
Pollution Prevention, and Technology Program, California Environmental Protection Agency.
A second panel discussion titled "Implementing Environmental Management Systems/ISO 14001," was moderated by Terry Christensen of the Public Health Service. Speakers included John Bridges, Environmental Compliance Coordinator, Capitol Metro Region, U.S. Postal Service; Stephen Evanoff, Manager, External Affairs, Corporate Environment Safety and Health, Lockheed Martin Corporation; Norman Varney, Jr., Associate General Counsel, Lockheed Martin Electronics; and Rick Drawbaugh, Deputy for Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Technology, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Air Force.
A plenary session on "Issues Related to the Use of ISO 14001 and Other Environmental Management Systems in Public Agencies," was moderated by Catherine Fairlie of the Air National Guard.
RECURRENT THEMES AND ISSUES
Throughout the workshop, members of the audience were given opportunities to question the speakers about issues related to federal regulatory compliance, EMSs, and ISO 14001. Neither the speakers nor members of the audience were asked to come to any consensus on the issues or recommendations for resolving them. However, over the course of the workshop a number of recurrent themes and issues emerged.
Changing the Environmental Protection Paradigm
Traditionally, environmental protection staff within an organization have focused primarily on complying with environmental regulations, a set of standards that are point-in-time concepts relating to environmental performance and protection. Speakers from both the private and public sectors discussed the importance of shifting the environmental protection paradigm from one focused solely on complying with federal regulations to one for which compliance is achieved as part of a more proactive performance-based system. Some organizations discovered that when it comes to environmental protection, compliance is not enough; an organization can be in full compliance with the law and still produce products and services that have negative impacts on the environment.
EMSs were discussed as a means to provide standardized frameworks from which individualized performance criteria can be established and measured. Thus, an organization can know whether it has actually reduced levels of resource consumption or environmental emissions rather than whether it has simply met a regulation. One speaker noted that the change in the
environmental paradigm raises the question of how to train people to meet these environmental challenges.
Characteristics of EMSs and ISO 14001
Speakers representing federal and state agencies as well as private companies found ISO 14001 to be a flexible, baseline approach that can be adapted to organizations of all sizes and types, and to a variety of cultures, processes, and businesses.
The fundamental principles of ISO 14001 promote a program of continual improvement to achieve objectives and targets set by the organization itself. The objectives and targets derive from an assessment of significant environmental aspects and commitments made in the organization's policy. The Code of Environmental Principles (CENT), another type of environmental management system, also was described. The CENT specifically addresses compliance, assurance, and pollution prevention, a distinguishing difference from ISO 14001.
Incorporating EMS into Corporate Business Practices
As an EMS is integrated into an organization's business decision-making processes, it can improve program management and enhance environmental performance. Some speakers' organizations found that the EMS improved overall productivity. As an EMS is incorporated into central management systems and organizational strategies, there is less need for external oversight as core business operations take ownership of environmental responsibility.
The full cost of implementing an EMS includes the salary and time costs of in-house staff devoted to the project, as well as costs of any certification program. Total costs will vary, depending on the quality of the organization's existing environmental management/protection systems. Several speakers concluded that an EMS, once implemented, should result in cost savings over time.
One speaker from a large corporation stated that, with the implementation of a corporatewide management system, his organization's long-term vision includes facility self-governance, incorporating self-auditing of their compliance with environmental regulations.
Several speakers addressed the benefit of dealing with environmental, safety, and health issues together as part of business planning and operational risk assessment. They agreed that integrating these issues into the same management concepts makes good business sense.
Changing Organizational Culture
Perhaps the most challenging aspect facing the organizations represented was instituting new management systems that required major change in their internal culture, away from compliance-based reporting and toward more active environmental stewardship. Outreach, education, and training are critical elements in making these programs successful because changing the culture requires analysis of how things were done in the past and what was wrong with that approach, as well as why the new system is better. It also means establishing performance measures to facilitate change.
One public agency has a number of EMS-related education programs under way. It is providing training and sharing information through the publication of fact sheets. An EMS topical committee is being established to disseminate information and provide a forum for discussion. Technical assistance has been provided to a few agency sites and a World Wide Web site has been developed.
To shift from environmental compliance to proactive environmental protection and prevention of pollution, organizations must involve all of their employees, build an infrastructure to support them in taking responsibility for the environmental aspects of their jobs, and educate them about environmental issues. One key to the successful implementation of ISO 14001 or another EMS is that these systems require people to get involved at all levels of the organization, from the top management down. Individual responsibility and accountability at the employee level is emphasized.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization). 1996. ISO 14001: Environmental Management Systems—Specification with Guidance for Use, No. ISO 1996 (E). Geneva, Switzerland: ISO.