- Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
- EMS Basic Information
- EMS Training
- EMS Success Stories
- Waste Management Related Initiatives
Jefferson County Success Story
Jefferson County, Alabama was the first county in the nation to become registered to the ISO-14001 standard. During the successful ISO-14001 audit, the county's EMS was declared a "model program" and an example for other public sector entities.
Jefferson County received an EPA grant which offered assistance in developing an EMS. Only 14 communities nationwide received these grants. The first participants from Jefferson County included four divisions of General Services (Crafts, Grounds, Maintenance, and the Print Shop) and Fleet Management. Since then, it has grown to include Human Resources, the Central Laundry, Information Technology, and the remaining areas in the General Services Department. Collectively, the "fenceline" of participating EMS departments involves about 500 employees.
The General Services Department manages the public buildings of the county, including custodial services, air conditioning and heating, waste disposal, recycling, and similar tasks. Fleet Management manages the County's rolling stock, including cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Environmental impacts include energy consumption, resource recycling, air emissions, biodegradable materials disposal, pest control, and purchase and disposal of hazardous materials. The two departments produce such wastes as refrigerants, batteries, motor oil, and medical waste.
The Central Laundry provides laundering services for linens, clothing and other washable materials for County and municipal jail facilities; Cooper Green Hospital, which is Jefferson County's indigent health care facility; and the Jefferson County Health and Rehabilitation Center, which provides nursing home care. Environmental impacts here include threats to the environment from chemical spills and contact with blood borne pathogens in soiled laundry.
As the name suggests, Information Technology addresses all the electronic data management, business applications, and other technical services. Some of their environmental impacts include soil and water contamination, as well as negative impacts on landfill space from disposal of paper, batteries, and printer/toner cartridges.
The Human Resources Department handles County insurance claims, occupational health matters, and a growing number of personnel activities. Environmental impacts include contamination from mercury disposal and contact with blood borne pathogens.
The Environmental Protection Division, which is under the Human Resources umbrella, acts as the coordinator of the County's EMS program and has outreach, education, and a small enforcement role in the issues of ground level ozone, illegal dumping, mosquito abatement, and scrap tires. These impacts include contamination for the soil, water, and air, as well as public and employee environmental health and safety.
Some key drivers for EMS implementation in Jefferson County were the widening enthusiasm for the EMS concept among environmental professionals, the high availability of government assistance programs to aid in EMS development, and the ability to partner environmental management with existing health and safety programs.
General Services and Fleet Management were selected over other County departments because of the variety of potential environmental impacts of the divisions and because of the enthusiastic support for EMS implementation from the Department of General Services Director, the leadership at Fleet Management, and the County Commission. Expectations of EMS implementation included:
- Financial benefits, as insurers and bonding agencies could reward the adoption of an EMS with better rates;
- Use of the EMS as a marketing and public relations tool;
- Increased compliance with environmental regulations; and
- Regulatory benefits.
The labor costs associated with the development of the County's EMS program
totaled $92,734. A total of 3,877 personnel hours were used. The program
underwent an independent review from external auditors and became registered
to the ISO-14001 standard in February, 2002.
EMS implementation efforts have resulted in:
- A voluntary reduction in waste cardboard generation;
- A shift to soy-based inks at the Print Shop;
- Other improvements in conservation technologies.
- A reduction in garbage disposal costs resulting from a mixed paper recycling program in several County facilities that captures about 20,000-30,000 lbs. each month;
- A recycling/reuse program that captures other materials including antifreeze, oil, fluorescent lamps and ballasts, paints and solvents, lead acid and other batteries, and scrap metal;
- Reduction of approximately 28,000 lbs. in total solid waste production due to a composting program being instituted in 2003;
- Elimination of the use of organophosphate pesticides; and
- Spill prevention and containment programs in various facilities.
"Many people hear 'environmental management' and immediately
think two things: bureaucracy and expense. But the EMS effort
for us yielded dozens of real world, longterm cost savings in
areas like reduced power and water use. Perhaps even more significant
is the possible impact on our bond ratings. Rating agencies recognized
that, in taking time to examine how we did our-day-to-day business,
Jefferson County had created a workplace that was less likely
to generate injuries or serious environmental accidents. Less
risk means greater opportunity for return on an investment. We're
told the potential impact of our EMS, taken with other factors,
is a 1/16th to 1/8th of a point improvement, which could mean
millions of dollars of taxpayer money saved each time we borrow
money for capital projects. Now, that's the kind of documented
savings that makes elected leaders and the public both very happy."
--Billy Morace, Director of General Services, Jefferson County, Alabama
Jefferson County achieved early success by intentionally starting small and including only enthusiastic participants. In the long term, the County is working diligently towards its goal to include other departments, who will be attracted by the financial and resource savings, the improved morale, and the safer work environments an EMS has to offer.
Through implementation of the EMS, the County has plainly demonstrated its commitment to obeying all laws and applicable guidelines relative to environmental matters. In addition, the EMS has been an opportunity for the County to hold itself to a higher standard, and to set the example for the broader local community.
The County will maintain ongoing self-evaluations and goal setting to assure a steady movement towards their commitment to continual improvement.
For more information, contact Jefferson County