Having a process to manage environmental impacts is key
Almost everything we do has an impact on the environment. Whether its clearing vegetation during project groundworks, or purchasing a new vehicle, the decisions we make have a wide range of impacts on the environment.
Environmental management is the framework and processes that we put in place to understand what is causing an impact on the environment from what we do (the aspects, such as driving vehicles, extracting materials), and what the impacts to the environment are as a consequence: on the soil, air, water, atmosphere and biodiversity. It is then about putting plans in place to reduce or eliminate the negative, and maximise the positive impacts.
Common examples of environmental management might be to have systems in place to control and prevent pollution, such as effluents getting into a river course, or the implementation of a biodiversity programme to ensure that the flora and fauna of an area is enhanced once a project has been completed.
Often the need for a robust environmental management system is driven by statutory requirements, such as air quality and water effluent limits, but more forward-thinking organisations are increasingly setting the bar higher.
Environmental Management: An Introduction
An introduction to the framework of environmental management systems and how they can improve your business.
Many organisations have an Environmental Management System (EMS) for their whole company but they may also be put in place to set out what a project’s environmental impacts are and how they should be mitigated.
The most common framework for an EMS is ISO 14001, the internationally accepted and well-established ISO Standard for environmental management. It encourages a philosophy of continual improvement – the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle which many other ISO Standards such as ISO 9001 use too.
The principles of environmental management are also included in the prominent sustainability assessment schemes in the UK notably BREEAM and CEEQUAL. And organisations such as CIRIA provide Environmental Good Practice on Site Guidance, which can help to identify better site environmental practice.