June 17, 2005  


EMS Update - On the Path to Environmental Improvement

By Mike Grissom

How do we address environmental concerns in our day-to-day work and also plan for future concerns? We use a system, called an Environmental Management System (EMS). EMS offers a methodology for managing our environmental concerns in a systematic manner.
Back in June 2004 (see http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/tip/2004/jun04/horizon.htm), I wrote about how an EMS was on the horizon. Since then, SLAC is progressing in the development of a DOE-verified EMS program. Our deadline for implementing this program is December 31, 2005.

What is an EMS? How Does it Affect Me?

In short, EMS is a system to bring together the people, plans, review mechanisms and procedures for managing environmental issues in an organization.

EMS involves a Plan-Do-Check-Act process. This sequence may sound very familiar, since the same process is also used in our Integrated Safety and Management System (ISMS).

Many of us also use this process to assure that we are managing our day-to-day operations with an eye toward continual improvement so that we do not have to always jump over the same hurdles time and again to get our work done. At the same time, we improve our work performance by learning from past experiences. An EMS helps us set up a system for improving our environmental performance and ensuring feedback reaches the right people to enable change for the better (continual improvement).

A simple analogy shows how EMS helps. You want to put a glass of milk on the table. Where would you place the milk—near the middle of the table or at the edge of the table? The environmental analogy is how do you want to manage your environmental issues—putting a drum of oil near a storm drain or keeping it far from the drain and perhaps in secondary containment? Increasing our ability to avoid spills is an example of continual improvement. Another example is using an electric vehicle for on-site transportation over a gasoline powered vehicle.

Helping to Protect the Environment

EMS can also be viewed as a way of increasing our reliability in protecting the environment.

A part of the EMS is the development of an organizational environmental policy. This policy is a public statement that the SLAC organization is committed to promoting environmental compliance, pollution prevention and improved environmental performance with others—the DOE, our regulators, the SLAC community and our neighbors. The Environmental Policy for SLAC can be found in the ES&H Policy: http://www-group.slac.stanford.edu/esh/isms/eshpolicy.html

Creating this policy helps us affirm the goals we have set to make environmental improvements.

Environmental Management Review

Back in March of this year, SLAC voluntarily invited the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct an Environmental Management Review. Many of you participated in this review. On the behalf of SLAC management, I thank you all for your efforts in demonstrating to the EPA our readiness to implement an EMS.

The EPA helped identify some of the gaps in our EMS and helped us gain momentum on the path of continual improvement. A number of observations and areas of improvement recommended by EPA are provided at: http://www-group.slac.stanford.edu/esh/isms/ems/

Next Steps

The EMS Working Group (EMSWG) members and various Line and Environmental Program Managers are currently collaborating on targets and performance indicators that will further steer SLAC on the path to continual environmental improvement.

The EMSWG is also reviewing the EMS Manual that will outline the procedures that SLAC will use to identify how it will continue to achieve environmental compliance and pollution prevention and how it will provide continual improvement in those activities that are deemed to have a potentially significant impact on our environment.

What can you do while this process is developing? For now, please take a look at the environmental policy. Be aware of the environmental impacts of your work and consider options on how you can best mitigate those impacts. If you have questions, contact Rich Cellamare at Ext. 3401, rcellamare@slac.stanford.edu.

Thanks to everyone for your past and future efforts towards continual improvement in our environmental performance.


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Tuesday June 14, 2005 by Topher White