EHS Management

EMS for Higher Ed—5 Tips for Success

EMS for Higher Ed—5 Tips for Success

Tip #1 — Reconnect with top administrators to ensure ongoing commitment and support. Administrators come and go so it is important to open communications with new staff, including presidents, chancellors, deans, and senior administrative and operations people. When communicating your EMS strategy, take the time to focus on the aspects that are most important to the individual or audience, such as how specific activities can reduce costs, increase visibility and gain recognition.

Tip #2 — Reassess the EMS team. Everyone has priorities and responsibilities that can change over time so it is important to have people on the team that have the desire, the time and the energy to fulfill their obligations. To keep EMS teams on track, schedule regular meetings with pre-set goals and acknowledge team accomplishments to administrators and to the public via intranet posts, newsletters or other communication channels.

Join us for our ISO 14001 webinar December 2 for cost-effective strategies for updating existing EMS or preparing an EMS that is certifiable to ISO 14001 in 2015. Learn more.

Tip #3 — Double check the list of current campus activities affecting the environment to ensure all are covered under the EMS. While all activities or “aspects” with environmental impacts should be included, those with regulatory requirements are especially important. Specific regulated and non-regulated aspects/impacts can include air emissions, releases to water, waste generation, land contamination, energy/fuel/water consumption, and raw materials used, to name a few. Be sure to maintain a written procedure for developing and maintaining the list.

Tip #4 — Review the list of environmental aspects and impacts to ensure all local, state and federal regulatory requirements are identified. Pay close attention to ongoing compliance schedules such as for annual recordkeeping, reporting and training, as well as newly passed laws and regulations that may apply to campus buildings, processes or activities. Make sure the EMS is updated to include all regulatory requirements, that the information is communicated to responsible staff and administration, and that revisions are regular and ongoing. When considering regulations, keep in mind that these may involve different federal-level agencies in addition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Food and Drug Administration, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  These activities should be defined in a written procedural document.

ISO 14001: Cost-Effective Strategies for Addressing Proposed Revisions for 2015

Join us December 2 to learn why the ISO 14001 standard is being revised and what is driving the revision. Register now.

Tip #5 — In light of findings from the review in Tip #4, conduct a compliance review of both old and new regulatory requirements. Again this should be an ongoing activity performed regularly and it should include both the level of compliance and a means of tracking results. This review should also include following up on past non-compliance actions taken against the institution to ensure all post-settlement requirements are being met. The compliance review may be accomplished through a state or federal voluntary audit program, all of which have specific requirements that must be followed, including prompt corrective actions in the event of noncompliance. For general compliance tracking, one way to stay on top of it is to create a compliance calendar that includes the frequency of reporting requirements and other obligations over time. Also do not forget to look for the root cause when a problem is identified to both define any needed resources and avoid recurrence.

The EPA offers a variety of forms, templates and checklists for creating and maintaining EMS programs at colleges and universities. These can be accessed at


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