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Office of Strategic Environmental Management

Environmental Innovation Portfolio

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Supporting Superior Environmental Performance

Innovative practices seek to build on the foundation provided by the environmental regulatory framework, providing incentives for environmental performance above required levels and forging collaborative relationships with volunteering organizations.

photo of a flag with "National Environmental Performance Track" written across itLeadership Programs

Environmental "leadership programs" are an important model for encouraging and rewarding "beyond compliance" environmental performance among the regulated community. Voluntary leadership programs typically establish criteria—such as implementation of an environmental management system (EMS), a track record of sound environmental performance, commitments to improve future performance—that regulated organizations must meet to gain entry. Participating organizations receive access to a variety of benefits such as: 1) public recognition; 2) regulatory incentives designed to reduce the organizations' compliance costs; and 3) access to information or technical assistance designed to facilitate environmental improvement. Several programs rely on a "tiered" approach that links increasing benefits to increasing levels of performance or commitments. Efforts are underway to link and align leadership programs at the state and national levels to improve consistency and strengthen benefits. Agency managers can encourage enhanced environmental performance and reduce the compliance cost to high-performing facilities through the deployment of leadership programs and associated incentives.

Clean Texas Program—Texas
Provides member facilities with various state incentives if they maintain a high-quality EMS, pollution prevention program, and compliance record. (http://www.tceq.texas.gov/p2/cleantexas/cleantexas.html/ exit EPA)
Drycleaners Five Star Recognition Program—Wisconsin
Recognizes drycleaners that voluntarily are working to minimize waste. The system is designed to help consumers identify those businesses that are making a difference in the environment. (Offline as of 09-04-12)
Best Workplaces for Commuters (Formerly Commuter Choice Leadership Initiative)—U.S. EPA and the Center for Urban Transportation Research
Promotes reductions in single occupancy vehicle commuter trips and recognizes participating employers; informs employers of tax incentives available for providing trip reduction benefits. (http://www.bestworkplaces.org exit EPA)

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Challenge Partnerships

Voluntary challenge partnerships can motivate environmental performance in new areas or beyond levels required by law without requiring time-consuming or expensive regulatory action. These programs recognize voluntary environmental improvement actions in targeted areas, such as reducing water use or emissions of certain pollutants. Participating companies typically receive public relations benefits associated with recognition of their improvement actions. Some challenge partnerships also provide tools and technical assistance to support organizations in reaching established challenge goals. Voluntary challenge partnerships can target specific industry sectors, or be open to broader participation. Challenge partnerships can also create peer pressure for participation and environmental improvement. Agency managers can use challenge partnerships to communicate environmental improvement priorities to the regulated community and to motivate cost-effective performance improvement.

Environmental Leaders of Maine (Formerly Maine STEP-UP Program)—Maine
Offers assistance and recognition to businesses interested in implementing sustainable practices. (http://www.maine.gov/dep/assistance/greencert/lodging.html exit EPA)
WasteWise Program—U.S. EPA
Encourages partners to design solid waste reduction programs and provides technical assistance, information, and recognition to participating organizations. (http://www.epa.gov/wastewise/)
High Production Volume (HPV) Challenge Program—U.S. EPA
Makes basic screening-level toxicity data available to the public by 2005 on the approximately 2,100 chemicals manufactured or imported into the U.S. annually in amounts of one million pounds or more. ((http://www.epa.gov/hpv/)

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photo of open portfolioSector-Based Performance Strategies

Sector-based strategies create an opportunity for regulators and sector representatives to collaboratively remove factors that constrain environmental performance improvement and develop approaches and tools that encourage continual performance improvement within the sector. Organizations within a particular industry or service sector often face common environmental challenges and opportunities that can differ from those faced by other sectors. States and EPA are working with many sectors to: 1) address sector-specific environmental problems; and 2) develop environmental management tools, such as EMS guides, that can help enhance environmental performance in the sector. Agency managers can address priority environmental challenges in their jurisdiction by working collaboratively with relevant industry sectors through an existing sector-based program or by launching a new sector-based initiative.

Sector Strategies Program—U.S.EPA
Convenes stakeholders in government and the private sector to work together to achieve industry-wide environmental gains through innovative actions in 12 manufacturing and service sectors. (http://www.epa.gov/sectors/)
Cleaner Production Challenge—Washington
Helps companies in the aerospace parts manufacturing, and plating and circuit board manufacturing industries reduce the amount of water used, wastewater produced, and hazardous sludge generated by offering onsite technical assistance, employee training, vendor workshops, and peer exchanges. (http://www.pprc.org/cpc/index.cfm exit EPA)
Sustainable Livestock Production Project—Nebraska
Conducts an educational program and builds producer-advisor relationship with confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to improve environmental performance. (http://www.deq.state.ne.us/ exit EPA)
Voluntary Programs Guide for the Specialty-Batch Chemical Sector—U.S. EPA
Links small batch chemical production companies with appropriate voluntary environmental performance program opportunities related to air quality, chemical safety, and other areas. (http://www.epa.gov/sectors/sectorinfo/sectorprofiles/chemical/voluntary.html)

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Environmental Management Systems

States and EPA have been actively promoting the widespread use of EMSs. EMSs provide organizations of all types with a structured approach for managing environmental and regulatory responsibilities to improve overall environmental performance, including areas not subject to regulation such as resource conservation and energy efficiency. EMSs can also help organizations integrate all these environmental considerations, and get better results, by establishing a continuous process of checking to make sure environmental goals are met, and responding if problems occur. From a business perspective, they can often help make organizations more efficient and more competitive and help address other important issues such as security at key facilities. EMSs are not a substitute for strong regulatory and enforcement programs, but rather complement them. EMSs can indicate opportunities for environmental agencies to streamline regulations, and can be used to support compliance assistance, monitoring, and enforcement.

PEER Centers—U.S. EPA
The Public Entity EMS Resource (PEER) Initiative provides a broad array of information and tools to help public entities (primarily local governments) understand and adopt EMSs for their operations. (http://www.peercenter.net exit EPA)
Hospitals and Healthcare—U.S. EPA
Encourages the health care industry in U.S. EPA Region 2 to move beyond compliance through the use of EMSs. U.S. EPA Region 2, in collaboration with hospitals, advocacy groups, and trade associations, has developed an EMS template for the industry to better understand its environmental impacts and associated regulations. (http://www.epa.gov/region02/healthcare)

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