Environmental Management Systems (EMS) at EPA's Research Triangle Park, NC Campus

What is an EMS?

EMS is the way EPA addresses the environmental impacts of research, facilities operations, and employee activities at EPA's Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina campus.  EMS at RTP:

  • is what EPA does - "Walk the Talk," "Lead by Example"
  • incorporates a continuous cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving processes
  • is built on Total Quality Management (TQM) concepts
  • ties together many existing policies and practices
  • can be certified to meet an international EMS standard (ISO 14001)

What is ISO 14001?

ISO 14001 Exit is considered a management system specification standard for EMS.

  • Does not define performance requirements
  • Does define the elements of an effective EMS
  • Does serve as a framework to assist organizations in developing their EMS
  • All EMSs have the same basic structure. Same processes are used whether your goals are ambitious (world class) or quite modest

Benefits of an EMS

  • Conserve resources, save money
  • Improve processes
  • Anticipate problems
  • Enhance reputation and image
  • Demonstrate leadership
  • Improve communications

Why does EPA have an EMS?

  • It is required by three Executive Orders:
    • EO 13148 (issued in 2000) - Greening the Government Through Leadership in Environmental Management (2000) "Through development and implementation of environmental management systems, each agency shall ensure that strategies are established to support environmental leadership programs, policies, and procedures and that agency senior level managers explicitly and actively endorse these strategies."

      EO 13148 Excerpt: "By December 31, 2005, each agency shall implement an environmental management system at all appropriate agency facilities based on facility size, complexity, and the environmental aspects of facility operations"

    • EO 13423 (issued in 2007) - Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management (2007) "Implement within the agency environmental management systems (EMS) at all appropriate organizational levels to ensure

      1. use of EMS as the primary management approach for addressing environmental aspects of internal agency operations and activities, including environmental aspects of energy and transportation functions,
      2. establishment of agency objectives and targets to ensure implementation of this order, and
      3. collection, analysis, and reporting of information to measure performance in the implementation of this order.
    • EO 13423 sets government-wide goals for energy, water, and fuel efficiency

    • Use of renewable energy and fuel
    • Environmentally preferable procurement
    • Disposition of electronics
    • Sustainable building practices
    • Implementation Guidance provides further clarification on audits EMSs to be based on ISO 14001
    • Self-declaration requires "formal" audit by "qualified" external party
    • Audit findings to be "recognized" at the appropriate level of management
    • Senior manager accountable for EMS to certify conformance
  • EO 13514 - Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance (2009) " ...sustain environmental management", including by:
    • continuing implementation of formal environmental management systems at all appropriate organizational levels
    • ensuring these formal systems are appropriately implemented and maintained to achieve the performance necessary
  • EPA's EMS Policy (2002) and EMS Commitment Statement (2005)
  • 34 EPA sites are self-certified under EO 13148 (2005)
  • It has entered OMB's "accountability-sphere" EMS and Sustainability Scorecards
  • It is reasonably achievable and is proven to improve environmental and business performance
  • It is a sound business practice - Proactive approaches save time and money over the long run

EMS Scope

The scope includes all of the RTP facilities including the equipment and materials located therein.
Activities that occur in these facilities include:

  • laboratory research
  • facility maintenance and operation
  • administrative support

The EPA's mission also includes research that is conducted in the field such as:

  • sample collection
  • environmental monitoring

These types of activities may have environmental impacts and therefore field activities conducted outside of EPA administered facilities are included in this scope.

All employees and contractors/concessionaires working onsite at a RTP facility, or in the field on behalf of EPA, are covered under the RTP EMS and required to follow EMS policies, programs, plans, and procedures.

General Information