We are living in an era described as an environmentally conscious age, where every deed acted by humans in terms of development, the effect is being weighed in relation to our environment. Consequently this has prompted a substantial number of environmental regulations being endorsed to hold business organizations more accountable for their environmental responsibilities. These policies tend to focus on tackling such problems from the source, with the knowledge of how certain insignificant decisions taken by such organizations can have a detrimental effect on the environment as a whole. (Darnall et al 2008).
One of the strategies adopted by these organisations was to introduce a tool known as Environmental Management System (EMS) that can be used to achieve a high degree of environmental protection within the context of sustainable development. (Bansal and Bagner.2002). This tool was first developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI) identified as BS7750 published in 1992. By 1994 the European Commission published another management tool known as Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).
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According to Bansal and Bagner after an increasing demand for improved environmental performance by the United Nations, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) was mandated to create an internationally recognised environmental management system called ISO 14001 which is being used up to date.
Over the years EMS has been seen as part of a policy frame work for establishing any type of organisation from Schools, hospitals to even shops. However, within the years researchers are beginning to question the authenticity of EMSs since organisations claim to have one, when infact they make no attempt to reduce their environmental damage. “In instances where EMSs enhances an organization’s environmental performance, critics argue that improvements are likely to occur within the organization’s operational boundaries rather than being extended throughout the supply chain.” (Darnall et al 2008).
Despite these emerging misconceptions EMS has been effective in reducing environmental impacts within and outside the organisations especially as fines and penalties are being enforced on non compliance of organisations by the regulatory bodies.
1.1 Scope of The Report:
This report will focus on EMS and how it relates to Eco campus, a tool established by Glasgow Caledonian University to regulate its environmental impacts. Furthermore, it will look at the positive and negative aspects of adopting an EMS, and the evidences of bronze and silver medals won by the GCU through implementation of eco campus and the steps towards achieving a Gold medal.
2. Ems and Eco Campus:
According to Coglianese and Nash an EMS can be described as a set of in-house policies, reviews, plans and functioning actions affecting the entire organization and its relationships with the natural environment. They went on further to say even though the specific institutional description of EMSs differ across organizations, all EMSs entail setting up an environmental policy or plan which goes through internal evaluations of the organization’s environmental impacts including computation of those impacts and how they have changed over time, creating quantifiable goals to reduce those environmental impacts, providing resources and training workers, checking implementation progress through systematic auditing to ensure that goals are being reached, correcting deviations from goal attainment and undergoing management review. Absolute incessant improvements are done on the model, which are anticipated to help organizations insert environmental practices deep within their operational frameworks so that protecting the natural environment becomes a fundamental component of their overall business strategy (Shireman, 2003).
Environmental management systems function under the Shewart and Deming cycle of continual improvement which can be actualized by a step by step procedure. . It is repetitive and based on the PLAN – DO – CHECK – ACT system. First of all, a re-evaluation of the institution is done and a plan is set out on how the review made can be improved. Next is to develop how to execute the plan and once the system has been implemented, it is verified frequently to see if it is performing successfully. Finally, any suggestions for improvements are implemented. The cycle then begins again so that the system is repeatedly improved and refined to have room for future changes. (ecocampus.co.uk). The figure below illustrates the process further.
2.1 Types Of Ems:
Presently there are quite a few recognizable standards in Environmental Management Systems, but most the recognised and certified are the:
ISO 14001: 2004 International Standard for Environmental Management.
Eco – Management & Audit Scheme (EMAS).
IEMA – Acorn Scheme.
2.1.1 ISO 14001:
ISO14001 objective is necessitating an organisation to implement an Environmental Policy within the organisation fully supported by the top management, and outlining the policies of the company, not only to the staff but to the public. The policy has to be in conformity with Environmental Legislations that may affect the organization and stressing a commitment to continuous improvement. Emphasis should also be placed on policy as this provides the direction for the remainder of the Management System. (Hillary 1999). Furthermore, ISO 14001 has grown at a very fast rate, and has gained acceptance as the “model T” among management systems perhaps not as a flashy or advanced as others, but prescriptive, reliable, affordable (in terms of cost and effort) and perhaps most importantly it gets you there.
Eco- Management & Audit Scheme (EMAS):
The EU Eco Management and Audit Scheme recognized as EMAS is a voluntary market based instrument designed to inculcate better environmental performance from all types of organisations. EMAS has also been intended to completely be well-suited with international standard for environmental management systems ISO 14001, but goes further in its requirements for performance improvement, employee involvement, legal compliance and communication with stakeholders. Uniquely EMAS requires organisations to produce an independently verified report about their performances. (www.iema.net)
2.1.3 IEMA – Acorn Scheme:
It has been mentioned by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) that Acorn Scheme is an officially accepted EMS standard suggested by the government, which offers a suitable step by step approach to environmental management using the British Standard BS8555. IEMA also described the scheme as a coherent practical tool that contains five stages of EMS implementation. Each stage is further subdivided into other individual stage profiles which match up to the schemes principle.
2.2.0 Eco- Campus And How It Relates To Ems:
Eco campus has been defined by the ecocampus website as both an environmental management system and an award scheme for the higher education sector. The scheme allows institutions to be acknowledged for adopting certain sustainable key issues. The main aim of the eco campus scheme is to encourage, reward and provide tools to assist institutions in moving towards environmental sustainability through good operational and management practices.
The eco campus programme consist of four phases; Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. By working through these phases, the university will -:
- Renew its current environmental performance and plan how it can be improved.
- Develop procedures to implement the plan
- Check actual progress
- Ensure any recommendations for improvement and implement them.
The Eco campus like the EMS, share the same objectives which is to inculcate, promote and integrate steps, ideas, plans that have less effect on the environment. In terms of implementation Eco campus works in the same manner with the EMS which is the application of the four key steps “Plan- Do-Check-Act” and off course with the criteria of continual improvement. Basically an eco campus is a tool that helps institutions achieve sustainability through an EMS approach, the relationship being an eco campus is an EMS with a different name because it functions in an institutional organisation. The only difference between the two would be the award winning criteria your institution tends to gain by adopting eco campus, whereas EMS does not reward implementation especially in that manner (bronze, silver, gold and platinum).
2.2.1 The Award Winning Criteria:
The eco campus award criterion is based on the PLAN – DO – CHECK – ACT system and these four stages are awarded sequentially by the four medals assigned by the scheme. Bronze (planning), Silver (implementing), Gold (operating) and Platinum (checking and correct).
The bronze phase basically complements the “planning” and this has to do with how devoted the senior management are towards attaining a sustainable institution. Environmental awareness, training, baseline environmental reviews and drafting an environmental policy are the main key elements of the bronze phase. An institution must be able to show these four basic commitments before they can be certified a bronze worthy.
The Silver however is referred to as “implementing” and it requires the execution of the elements highlighted in the policy. It`s key elements include: legal and other requirements, significant environmental aspects, objectives, targets, programmes, and environmental policy.
The gold is recognised as “operating” and consist of resources, roles and responsibilities; competence, training and awareness; communication; documentation and control of documents; operational control; emergency preparedness and response.
Finally the platinum which is the checking & correcting requires monitoring, measurement of the success so far followed by the evaluation of compliance in terms of abiding by the restrictions placed & the non conformity, correctiveness, and preventive action. Furthermore control of records is required, internal auditing and finally the management review.(GCU Envirocampus, 2007)
3.0 Positive And Negative Aspects Of The System:
According to Glasgow Caledonian University/sustainability website EMS has the following beneficial qualities:
- assists in obtaining a licence to operate and complying with legal and other requirements such as planning consents;
- improves relationships with regulators;
- helps to prevent enforcement or civil actions;
- reduces hidden costs associated with legal action (including substantial draw on management time);
- avoids fines and damages awarded from legal action through criminal or civil courts
- improves operational and process efficiency;
- reduces operating costs and resource use thereby increasing profitability;
- reduces outlay on waste disposal;
- gives the institution a long-term sustainable future;
- develops relationships with stakeholders by satisfying investors’ lenders’ and insurers’ environmental performance requirements;
- helps to obtain insurance at a reasonable cost;
- enhances the internal and external image of the institution, making it more marketable;
- helps attract and retain quality staff and students;
- Reduces pollution and improves the environment.
And EMS has the following drawbacks:
- requires human and financial resources;
- takes time to convince people that it is worthwhile;
- requires good communication and training;
- can be time-consuming to implement and maintain
From the above mentioned list, it clearly signifies how the advantages of an EMS overshadow the disadvantages, and for an effective and organised improvement of an institution’s environmental activities, it is most recommended.
4.0 Evidence of Bronze and Silver Medals
According to the GCU/Sustainability website on June the 12th 2009 Glasgow Caledonian University received a bronze medal. It was presented by the eco campus Director, Dr Peter Redfern of Nottingham Trent University to Jim McQueen who received it on behalf of Glasgow Caledonian University eco campus team during workshop number 5 at Bournemouth University on the 1st of July 2009. It was on a time scale of 2 and 3 month and it covered the “planning stage”. It had an upfront cost of ?9000 for purchase of training tools. These tools are: web trainer tool, review tool, significance calculator tool and document control tool.
The silver medal was later awarded on the 28th of April 2010 after successfully completing the “implementation stage”. The certificate was presented to Therese Fraser and Jim McQueen on May the 18th 2010 at Nottingham Trent University in correspondence to their Workshop 9 attendance. This was undoughtedly accomplished based on the commitments the staff and students of GCU had put in. Presently, the institution focuses on programmes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions under the supervision of the university in areas such as administrative, accommodation, and leisure buildings. It also has in place a carbon management plan which was approved by the carbon trust on 30th April 2010. (gcu.ac.uk/sustainability).
As part of their commitment towards creating a sustainable and carbon free campus, GCU has joined the carbon trust scheme in addition to the eco campus plan. Besides that, their commitment goes as far as reducing their adverse impacts on the environment under the mandate set up by the Scottish government which involves an action to reduce carbon dioxide emission and to the climate change Bill 2007, commitments has been made to reduce emissions nationally by 69% by 2050. The School is also committed to promote projects which enhance society’s management of waste through collaborating with an environmental body that utilizes landfill tax credits called SCORE. (gcu.ac.uk/sustainability).
In terms of drafting an environmental policy under the bronze criteria GCU have been active in that department, a lot have been drafted but just to mention a few. The policies include:
- Incorporate recycling initiatives within our waste management review, increase recycling by 5% year on year.
- Develop the use of recycled materials and increase recycling initiatives.
- Prevent pollution by reducing emissions and discharges.
- Reduce the negative impacts associated with our travel by 4% in this year while developing partnerships with travel groups.
- Reduction in water by 10% over the next 2 years by increasing automatic metering.
As mentioned in the policy document, it is underpinned by the values of the University and is subject to annual review by the Executive Board which is also another criteria for award attainment (environmental reviews) together with “implementation” of these plans which is the silver stage. The university achieved this through its collaborative effort between the EMS manager and certain specialists in each area of GCU. They reviewed aspects like electricity which has severe negative impacts especially as it is produced by burning fossil fuels. (gcu.ac.uk/sustainability).
Regarding the issue of awareness, trainings & workshops, GCU has achieved a lot in that area quite a number of awareness weeks & trainings have taken place like its carbon footprint programme that was held on Environment day May the 5th. Other awareness campaigns followed such as facilities management department held an Environmental & Energy awareness day on Thursday November 1st 2007. Amongst them the most successful one that took place was the Energy awareness day of September the 19th 2006. It was estimated that over 1,000 staffs and students passed through the exhibition.
5.0 STEPS TO ACHIEVE THE GOLD MEDAL
The Gold phase of the eco campus covers “operating” as mentioned earlier and is depended upon the institutions commitment. Operating consists of the following:-
- Resources, roles, responsibilities and authority;
- Competence, training and awareness
- Control of documents
- Operational control
- Emergency preparedness and response. (eco campus Audit criteria 2005-2008)
1. Resources, Roles and Responsibilities
The university will have to provide evidence of appropriate resources put in place in order to implement the environmental management system. Roles and responsibilities should be allocated to member staffs and students; this will enable the institution to finalise the outline management structure.
2. Competence and Training
All training records shall be collated, recorded and stored. Assessment shall also be made on the competency of persons whose work may have a significant impact on the environment. Both staff and students especially those that are part of the eco campus team should have adequate training to ensure they understand the environmental issues relating to the institution and their roles and responsibilities for implementing the environmental management system. The same Training should also be done to any new persons joining the team and all training should be recorded and updated.
Procedures must be adopted for documenting and responding to environmental communication received from within and outside the institution. This can be achieved through presentations, briefings, lectures etc and key environmental impacts and relevant legal issues should be communicated to team members. Also, roles and responsibilities should be communicated to all relevant persons in order to meet the commitments made in the environmental policy and objectives and targets
4. Documentation/Control of documents
The institution shall develop an EMS manual describing how the EMS operates and cross referencing to relevant documentation. A procedure for controlling environmental management system documentation shall be established. This entails -documents shall be defined.
- An authorised person shall approve system document prior to release and the date of approval shall be shown on the document.
- Record of changes made to documents shall be maintained.
- Responsibilities, authorities and processes for disposing of absolute documents shall be defined.
- An authorised person shall approve system document prior to release and the date of approval shall be shown on the document.
5. Operational Control
Having control over all operational activities is a vital role in achieving the Gold medal. This can be made possible by looking at the guide as follows:-
A procedure should be developed to outline the management of operational control procedures; procedures that address significant aspects in line with objectives and targets should be developed. These procedures shall demonstrate how the institution controls those areas of its activities which could have an effect on the environment.
6. Emergency Preparedness and Response
System to identify and respond to emergencies which could result in damage to the environment must be put in place. A schedule of emergency procedure test drill should be established, this will help to describe how the institution review and test emergency preparedness and response.
Glasgow Caledonian University through some of its activities like being part of the carbon trust and the commitments to sustainability and creation of greener campus has already tackled some of the basic elements listed above. However, there is still more to be done to ensure the institution becomes a sustainable institution. Some key issues like waste management and creating awareness through campaigns still needs to be addressed. Most students are either not aware or refuse to comply with the waste management strategy. There seem to be a waste segregation and recycling that is going on but due to lack of awareness most of students do not know therefore, there is still much that has to be done in order to attain the Gold level and achieve a sustainable university. And a target for that should be the international students which GCU has quite a few, source segregation for example needs to be made aware especially during the first weeks of orientation about how it works and its importance. Water management and electricity consumption is another issue that needs to be addressed, motion light sensors and water meters should be installed in hostels because that is where most of the consumption takes place. Students should be enlightened on the impacts of such actions and the need to develop a secure, safe and sustainable institution for learning. I also recommend placing parking ticket fee or stamps to parking spaces this will help reduce emissions from staff and students from coming with cars and at the same time make subsidies and promos on bus fares to school.
All institutional activities have an impact on the environment and there is need to review our mannerisms if we are committed in reducing the effects. This can best be achieved through the incorporation of an environmental management system which appears to be the most logical and effective way. The success of the systems without a dought takes a little while to be actualized but there are a lot of gains attached to it, such as the Eco campus award schemes, National Recognitions, an efficient structured management system and above all the Management of our Environment. And again the success as mentioned in the report requires the devotion of the People within the organisation. So it is about time Government Steps in and make EMS a more Standardize requirement for organizations especially schools where most of the daily activities occur in terms of resources usage.
- Caledonian Environmental Centre (CEC): 2007; implementing an environmental management system in Glasgow Caledonian University
- Coglianese, C. Nash J.2001. Regulating from the Inside team can Environmental Management system Achieve Policy
- Goals Washington: Resources for the future Press.
- Darnall, N. Henriques,I. Sardosky, P.2008. Do Environmental Management systems Improve business Performance In an International SettingJournal on International Management, 2008, 14, pp364-376
- Eco campus Audit criteria 2005- 2008; Available on blackboard via health and safety assignment materials
- Ecocampus. (2010). Ecocampus [Online]Available at: http://www.ecocampus.co.uk/EMS.htm[ Accessed on 4 November 2010]
- GCU.(2010). Sustainability[Online] Available at : http// www.gcu.ac.uk/sustainability/susprochtml.[accessed 3 November 2010]
- Hillary, R. (1999). Evaluation of Study Reports on the Barriers, Opportunities and Drivers for Small and Medium Sized
- Enterprises in the Adoption of EMSs. London: Network for Environmental Management and Auditing. Paper submitted to UK Government. Department of Trade and Industry: Environment Directorate (5/10/99).
- Institute Of Environmental Management & Assessment.[Online] Available on http://www.iema.net.[Accessed 3 November 2010].
- Shireman W. 2003. A Measurement Guide to Productivity: 50 Powerful Tools to Grow your Triple Bottom Line. Asian Productivity Organization: Tokyo
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