What is an EMS? (Environmental Management System)

An Environmental Management System (EMS) determines and continuously improves an organizations’ environmental position and performance. It follows an outline (see below) and is managed like any other facet of a business; quality, safety, etc, and provides a framework for implementing improvements or to meet regulatory requirements. Ideally, it is built on an existing quality management system. (ISO 9001).


An EMS follows a Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle, or PDCA.

  1. Develop an environmental policy
  2. Planning your EMS
  3. Implementing it in your organization
  4. Monitor the system
  5. Take action

The model is continuous because an EMS is a process of continual improvement in which an organization is constantly reviewing and revising the system.

EMS Steps (defined in the ISO 14001 document):

  1. Review the your organization’s impact on the environment “Where are we today?
  2. Define goals for environmental performance -“Where do you want to be tomorrow?
    • Meeting environmental regulations
    • Meeting customer requirements
    • Reducing scrap
    • etc.
  3. Create a plan to achieve the goals. “What are you going to do about it?
  4. Monitor performance against goals.
    • Are we meeting the goals and realizing the benefits?
  5. Report the results
    • If it isn’t measured (and recorded), it can’t be improved!
  6. Review the EMS results and continuously improve.
    • If you meet your first goals, create more!

Key EMS Components:

  • Policy Statement – a statement of the organization’s commitment to the environment
  • Assessment of Environmental Impacts – environmental attributes of products, activities and services and their effects on the environment
  • Development of Objectives and Targets – environmental goals for the organization
  • Implementation – plans to meet objectives and targets
  • Training – employees must be aware and capable of fulfilling their responsibilities
  • Management Review – Leadership must support the goals

ISO 14001 Environmental Management System

iso 14005
Free ISO 14000 Info

The ISO 14000 series of standards outline different aspects of environmental management, and ISO 14000 is the best known EMS in the entire world. The FREE brochure provides more information on them.

  • ISO 14001 defines the requirements for certification
  • ISO 14004 provides guidance on ISO 14001
  • ISO 14005 provides guidance on a phased EMS implementation

Read “The ISO 14000 family of standards” for more information.

Practical tools for addressing climate change – FREE

climate change

This free brochure describe how ISO standards offer practical tools for addressing climate change at four levels:

  • Monitoring climate change
  • Quantifying GHG emissions and communicating on environmental impacts
  • Promoting good practice in environmental management and design
  • Opening world markets for energy efficient technologies.

ISO 9001 All in One Package