ISO14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) 
ISO14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) 

Cardiff Metropolitan University was awarded the IS014001 Standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS), in 2012.  
The University spent a few years developing its processes in readiness for the ISO14001 assessment. We reduced our waste to landfill, reduced electricity consumption by 12%, gas by 5% and water usage by 18%, improved out travel planning.  This meant that the overhead for energy and utilities reduced, making more resources available for other developments and /or minimising the impact of financial stringency.  18% of our total savings to date have been made through improved housekeeping.
The Univerity's EMS is managed by a steering group made up of representatives from all areas of the University. 

So what is an Environmental Management System (EMS)?

The following list of Questions and Answers has been compiled to help provide a quick guidance source on regularly raised EMS points. Simply click on a question to reveal the answer:

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a structured framework for managing an organisation's significant environmental impacts.

An EMS can help us to comply with environmental laws and regulations more consistently and effectively. It also can help us identify and capitalise on environmental opportunities that go beyond compliance.

In Wales, the Welsh Government has made it a requirement that all public sector bodies must have an accredited EMS.

Much of what we have in place now for environmental management will probably be incorporated into the EMS. There is no need to "start over", instead we will look to build environmental management requirements into our existing management structure, rather than developing our EMS as a stand alone system.

All businesses can benefit from a systematic approach to ensure that their resource use is well managed, to achieve associated financial savings through efficiency measures and to ensure that the business is not breaching current or developing environmental legislation. There are many examples of small organisations that have implemented an EMS and gained significant business benefits.

A commitment to preventing pollution is a cornerstone of an effective EMS and should be reflected in an organisation's policy, objectives and other EMS elements.

In the medium term, it is hoped that the University's EMS should prove to be at least cost neutral and lead through to sustained savings via the environmental efficiencies in waste and energy management.

An EMS will not result in more or less stringent legal compliance obligations. But an EMS should improve our efforts to comply with legal obligations, and in some cases, may lead to more flexible compliance requirements.

Continual improvement in overall environmental performance is a fundamental principle in EMS and is accordingly defined within respective standards. The principle is one that allows for phased improvement (achievable over a period). It also helps to 'build in' and sustain achieved improvements. An effective EMS will enable organisations to target, achieve and demonstrate continuous improvement in environmental performance as one integrated management process.

An EMS is generally more effective when integrated within an organisation's wider management systems. As standards have developed, there has been an increasing trend of compatibility and complementary system elements (for instance between Quality Systems and Environmental Management Systems).

Assessing the significance of an environmental impact is one of the more involved parts of the EMS process. There are many different tools and techniques and often more than one approach is used. In many circumstances, professional judgment will play an important role in determining how to address significance and this can be helped through consultation with appropriate stakeholders. The significance of an impact can be assessed through consideration of:

- Size, nature, frequency, likelihood and duration of the environmental impact;
- The sensitivity of the receiving environment and the extent to which the impact is reversible;
- The extent to which the impact (or the activity, product or service which causes it) is covered by environmental laws and regulations, or contractual requirements; and
- The importance of the impact to interested parties e.g. employees, neighbours, regulators.

Organisations may decide to have an external body confirm that their EMS meets the requirements of standards such as ISO 14001 and this process is known as certification. Certification is not mandatory and ISO 14001 does allow organisations to self-certify that they have met all of the requirements of the standard. However, there are a number of benefits that can be gained by an organisation having its EMS externally certified -

In order to ensure that certification bodies undertake their EMS assessments in a similar and comparable way and that certificates issued by different certification bodies are equivalent, a process of accreditation has been established. National accreditation bodies undertake assessments to ensure that certification bodies carry out their assessments appropriately and use competent people. In the UK, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the national accreditation body. For further information go to