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Elements: Cal/EPA Environmental Management System Project

The Cal/EPA Agency-wide Environmental Management System (EMS) is a highly effective, collaborative effort to assess and align our business operations with our organization’s mission of environmental protection. As an organization, we are in a unique position to amplify the efforts of so many dedicated professionals who already “lead by example.” An overview of the Cal/EPA EMS is provided here to increase understanding by both internal and external stakeholders.

Why is the Cal/EPA Agency-wide EMS Important?
What is an EMS?

What is the scope of Cal/EPA’s EMS?


Why is the Cal/EPA Agency-wide EMS Important?

Executive leadership of the Boards, Departments, and Offices of the California Environmental Protection Agency have adopted a general environmental policy statement that affirms our commitment to reduce ecological impacts from our business operations, lead by example, and assist our sister state agencies in their efforts—in short, we are “Makin’ it easy to be green!” Our current focus is to work green, travel green, and buy green.

Implementation of this policy and supporting policies through our environmental management system will align the conduct of our business operations with Cal/EPA's mission to restore, protect and enhance the environment, to ensure public health, environmental quality and economic vitality. The Cal/EPA EMS provides the vehicle to clarify and prioritize policy objectives, execute improvement strategies, manage roles and responsibilities, communicate challenges and successes, learn as an organization and from each other, and continue to improve.

U.S. EPA and Cal/EPA support and promote the development and use of EMSs, including those based on the ISO 14001 International EMS Standard, that help an organization achieve its environmental obligations and broaden environmental performance goals beyond regulatory compliance. The Plan-Do-Check-Advance cycle of continual improvement incorporated into ISO 14001 and similar EMS models has proven to be effective as applied to environmental management. U.S. EPA’s position on EMSs is located at http://www.epa.gov/ems/position/index.htm.

Based on successes achieved by both private sector and public sector organizations in a Cal/EPA study, the Agency Secretary initiated design and implementation of an Agency-wide EMS to lead by example as well as build understanding about EMSs among Cal/EPA management, staff, and external stakeholders. The Cal/EPA multi-disciplinary team’s Report to the Legislature on EMSs is located at http://www.calepa.ca.gov/EMS/Archives/.

Cal/EPA’s Executive EMS Steering Committee agreed that an Agency-wide EMS was needed to translate the following hopes into reality:

  • Serve as a role model
  • Integrate pollution prevention and waste reduction into our daily work
  • Raise employee awareness and inspire participation
  • Provide continuity for environmental commitments
  • Extend efforts from headquarters to field offices, in time and as appropriate
  • Build consistency among agencies
  • Work together to make a difference in this area

What is an EMS?

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is an integrated set of management processes designed to continually identify, prioritize, and improve the environmental impacts of an organization.

An EMS integrates environmental management throughout

  • daily operations
  • budget and human resource planning
  • strategic planning.

The five major elements of an EMS Continual Improvement Process are

  1. Environmental Policy
  2. Planning
  3. Implementation and Operation
  4. Checking and Corrective Action
  5. Management Review

U.S. EPA summarizes basic information about EMSs at http://www.epa.gov/ems/index.html. The International Organization for Standardization provides a brief overview of the ISO 14001 International EMS Standard at http://www.iso.org/iso/en/iso9000-14000/index.html.

An EMS manual provides the documentation of how an organization fulfills these requirements. Cal/EPA’s EMS Manual is provided to employees on our internal website. We will share our EMS Manual on this website in the near future. To see an example, you can view U.S. EPA Region 9’s EMS Manual at http://www.epa.gov/region09/cross_pr/ems/index.html.


What is the scope of Cal/EPA’s EMS?

The current scope, or fence line, of the Cal/EPA EMS is the headquarters building located at 1001 I Street in downtown Sacramento. The EMS effort will focus on the building-related operations of Cal/EPA and on the business processes and employee and stakeholder practices that relate to our business operations. The EMS does not include policy decision-making that is the statutory purview of the Boards, Departments, and Office.

In the future, programs may be extended to field offices, as appropriate, through a decision by the Agency Secretary in consultation with the Executive Management of the Boards, Departments, and Office. Due to various leasing arrangements and varying organizational needs, environmental programs may be implemented at field offices on a case-by-case basis. For example, procurement of 100% post consumer recycled content and process chlorine free paper may be applied to all Cal/EPA operations, but the ability to purchase green power will vary.

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Last updated: September 28, 2006
Environmental Management Systems, http://www.calepa.ca.gov/EMS/
General Public Contact, cepacomm@calepa.ca.gov (916) 323-2514