Jack Sehkon and Associates Inc.

Environmental Management Systems

Learn about Environmental Management Systems, its purpose, benefits, how to implement it, get certified and more.

What are Environmental management systems (EMS)?

An environmental management system helps organizations identify, manage, monitor and control their environmental issues in a “holistic” manner. It requires that an organization considers all environmental issues relevant to its operations, such as air pollution, water and sewage issues, waste management, soil contamination, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and resource use and efficiency. The key focus now includes the increased prominence of environmental management within the organization’s strategic planning processes, greater input from leadership and a stronger commitment to proactive initiatives that boost environmental performance.

Purpose of an EMS

An Environmental Management System (EMS) helps an organization address its regulatory requirements in a systematic and cost-effective manner. This proactive approach can help reduce the risk of non-compliance and improve health and safety practices for employees and the public. An EMS can also help address non-regulated issues, such as energy conservation, and can promote stronger operational control and employee stewardship. Basic Elements of an EMS include the following:

  • Reviewing the organization’s environmental goals;
  • Analyzing its environmental impacts and compliance obligations (or legal and other requirements);
  • Setting environmental objectives and targets to reduce environmental impacts and conform with compliance obligations;
  • Establishing programs to meet these objectives and targets;
  • Monitoring and measuring progress in achieving the objectives;
  • Ensuring employees’ environmental awareness and competence; and,
  • Reviewing progress of the EMS and achieving improvements.

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ISO 14001 & Environmental management systems

ISO 14001 is a part of family of ISO 14001 standards by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) related to environmental management that exists to help organizations (a) minimize how their operations (processes, etc.) negatively affect the environment (b) comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements; and (c) continually improve in the above.

what is environmental management system

Core Elements of an EMS

  1. Commitment and Policy – Top management commits to environmental improvement and establishes the organization’s environmental policy. The policy is the foundation of the EMS.
  2. Planning – An organization first identifies environmental aspects of its operations. Environmental aspects are those items, such as air pollutants or hazardous waste, that can have negative impacts on people and/or the environment. An organization then determines which aspects are significant by choosing criteria considered most important by the organization. For example, an organization may choose worker health and safety, environmental compliance, and cost as its criteria. Once significant environmental aspects are determined, an organization sets objectives and targets. An objective is an overall environmental goal (e.g., minimize use of chemical X). A target is a detailed, quantified requirement that arises from the objectives (e.g., reduce use of chemical X by 25% by September 2030). The final part of the planning stage is devising an action plan for meeting the targets. This includes designating responsibilities, establishing a schedule, and outlining clearly defined steps to meet the targets.
  3. Implementation – A organization follows through with the action plan using the necessary resources (human, financial, etc.). An important component is employee training and awareness for all employees (including interns, contractors, etc.). Other steps in the implementation stage include documentation, following operating procedures, and setting up internal and external communication lines.
  4. Evaluation – A company monitors its operations to evaluate whether objectives and targets are being met. If not, the company takes corrective action.
  5. Review – Top management reviews the results of the evaluation to see if the EMS is working. Management determines whether the original environmental policy is consistent with the organization’s values. The plan is then revised to optimize the effectiveness of the EMS. The review stage creates a loop of continuous improvement for a company.

Who should Implement an EMS?

Anyone with the knowledge of ISO 14001 Standard and core environmental skills such as risk assessment, environmental monitoring, sustainable development, environmental media, environmental aspects/impacts, environmental statutory/regulatory requirements and strategic planning.

How can JSA help you Implement EMS?

JSA will assist you in the following steps required for ISO 14001 EMS implementation: 

  1. Gap analysis of existing quality practices vs ISO 14001:2015 Standard requirements.
  2. Understanding of process approach, risk-based thinking and compliance obligations.
  3. Identification environmental aspects and prioritization as significant environmental aspects and extent of documented information to be generated.
  4. Developing documented information -EMS on paper.
  5. Implementing EMS-Rolling it out.
  6. Performance evaluation of EMS.
  7. Stage 1 audit.
  8. Stage 2 audit.
  9. Continual improvement.

Process required for Implementation

Jack Sekhon will employ the following process for implementation:

  1. Establish EMS Steering Committee and Senior Management Team and cause awareness of applicable sections of EMS.
  2. Establish Process Teams and cause awareness of process approach and risk-based thinking.
  3. Identify environmental aspects and prioritize significant environmental aspects.
  4. Determine extent of documented information required by ISO 14001:2015 Standard and aligned with strategic planning.
  5. Develop documented information, train employees on EMS and roll it out.
  6. Evaluate the effectiveness of EMS through internal audit, KPIs and management review.
  7. Registrar conducts Stage 1 Audit.
  8. Registrar conducts Stage 2 Audit.

Benefits of Implementing an EMS

There are many reasons why an organization should take a strategic approach to improving its environmental performance. Users of the standard have reported that ISO 14001 helps: 

  • Improved environmental performance
  • Enhanced compliance
  • Pollution prevention
  • Resource conservation
  • New customers/markets
  • Increased efficiency/reduced costs
  • Enhanced employee morale
  • Enhanced image with public, regulators, lenders, investors
  • Employee awareness of environmental issues and responsibilities
environmental management system training

Cost of Implementing an EMS?

The overall certification cost consists of the cost of developing and implementing plus the cost of an external certifying body for auditing and audit report. The cost of development/implementation depends upon the nature, size, and complexity of the business. For a small organization, this cost could be up to $20,000. For medium size organizations, this cost could be up to $50,000. For a large size organization, the cost could be up to $100,000. One point to remember about the cost is how much work is done by the company and the consultant as this would impact the consultant`s cost. The third-party registration cost is $1700 per day for stage 1 and stage 2 audits. Total number of stage 1/stage 2 audit days would determine the external certification cost. 

History of Environmental Management systems

Organizations have been implementing Environmental Management Systems (EMS) since the 1970’s, when the 1972 UN Conference in Stockholm focused on establishing principles and guidance for the preservation of the environment. 

However, it wasn’t until 1992 that the first environmental standard was published by BSI (the British Standards Institute). BS7750 was aimed primarily at manufacturing and service organizations, and allowed the organization to demonstrate compliance with health and safety as well as local and national environmental requirements. Around the same time, a number of countries launched their own environmental standards, and the European Commission launched EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme), which followed similar lines to BS7750, but included extra requirements such as public reporting.

In 1993, it was decided that there would be a series of standards for environmental management, and a committee was formed for the purpose of developing the 14000 series. However, it wasn’t until 1996 that ISO14001 was published for the first time. 

Eight years later, in 2004, the standard was revised with the intention of clarifying existing requirements, introducing additional requirements, and allowing for integration with other standards such as ISO 9001 for Quality Management. 

The standard began to grow in popularity rapidly from this point on, particularly with the implementation of an array of legislative improvements for the protection of the environment, and the benefits and positives of having an EMS becoming known on a wider scale. 

The most recent incarnation of the standard was launched in 2015, implementing a high level structure called Annex SL. This ensured a more uniform approach across ISO standards, eased the path for integration of multiple standards, and helped reduce duplication where organizations had existing ISO management systems. 

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EMS Resources

Case Studies

Wastech Services Ltd

Jack Sekhon & Associates was retained to assist Wastech Services Ltd in the development, implementation and registration of their business management system to ISO 14001 Standard for all Transfer Stations and Cache Creek Landfill.

Ridley Terminals

Jack Sekhon and Associates assisted Ridley Terminals in achieving transformation and evaluation to Integrated Management System (IMS) consisting of QMS, EMS and OHSMS and compliance evaluation for environmental and OHS legal obligations.


Jack Sekhon and Associates assisted Certainteed in getting certification for EMS.
Frequently Asked Questions

Check out answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

  • Reducing the air emissions with the help of engineering/administrative controls and air emissions monitoring to comply with statutory/regulatory requirements.
  • Achieving total compliance with applicable environmental legislation with the help of engineering/administrative controls and compliance monitoring
  • Reducing consumption of power/water with the help of engineering/administrative controls and water/power consumption monitoring.
  • Reducing amount of wastewater with the help of engineering/administrative controls and wastewater emissions monitoring.

Four components of EMS could include:

  • Establishing strategic plan based on organizational context and stakeholders.
  • Identification of environmental aspects and prioritization using risk assessment to establish significant environmental aspects.
  • Identification of applicable environmental legislation and brief summary of how these requirements apply to the operations.
  • Establishing controls such as engineering and administrative to maintain control within defined limits.
  • Monitoring and measuring of the significant environmental aspects to ensure compliance

ISO 14001 is the internationally recognized standard for environmental management systems (EMS). It provides a framework for organizations to design and implement an EMS, and continually improve their environmental performance. This model is based on process approach and risk-based thinking. The model uses the PDCA cycle which uses PLAN, DO, CHECK and ACT concepts to address overall environmental management covering applicable environmental media.

The major requirements of an EMS under ISO 14001:2015 include: 

  • A policy statement which includes commitments to prevention of pollution,
  • continual improvement of the EMS leading to improvements in overall environmental performance, and
  • compliance with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements


An EMS offers a collaborative and systematic approach that organizations can use to reduce the environmental impacts of their operations.

An EMS is a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency. This site provides information and resources related to establishing an EMS for small businesses, private industry, and local, state and federal agencies. The EPA continues to maintain an EMS at all of its offices and laboratories, focusing on the reduction of the agency’s environmental footprint.

The EMS framework helps an organization achieve its environmental goals through consistent review, evaluation, and improvement of its environmental performance. The assumption is that this consistent review and evaluation will identify opportunities for improving and implementing the environmental performance of the organization. The EMS itself does not dictate a level of environmental performance that must be achieved; each organization’s EMS is tailored to its own individual objectives and targets.

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