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Environmental Management Systems:

A Guidebook for Improving Energy and Environmental Performance in Local Governments

EMS for Local Governments

This manual was written for—and with the participation of—local governments throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its purpose is to provide guidance towards minimizing environmental impacts on communities. The guidebook was prepared to walk municipalities through the EMS implementation process with a minimum of outside support. It was prepared by Five Winds, International under a grant from PA DEP/OETD.

The ISO 14001 EMS standard (upon which this guidebook is based) is built on the “Plan, Do, Check, Review” model. The basic structure of an EMS, as defined by that standard, includes commitments to regulatory compliance and continual improvement, communicating the EMS to all employees, and making the EMS available to the public. Within this structure, there are five primary components: 1) Commitment and Environmental Policy, 2) Planning, 3) Implementation and Operation, 4) Checking and Corrective Action; and 5) Management Review.

The multi-step process, tools and template documents contained therein were tested and refined through a Pilot Program that involved seven Pennsylvania municipalities. Although it is expected that, by using the tools and templates presented in the guidebook, a municipality can implement a complete EMS without outside assistance, we recommend that they seek as much relevant information on the subject as possible. The additional sources of EMS information presented in Section 6 of the Guidebook are included for this reason, and the reader is encouraged to explore these sources as a starting point for their own research.

Although the guidebook focuses on the ISO 14001 EMS framework official registration/certification is not required. Some form of internal auditing and third-party auditing/certification, however, should be considered to enhance the credibility of your effort. You are not required to coordinate your EMS with any regulatory body—but DEP is available to assist your development, implementation and auditing needs.

Improved environmental performance and the development of an effective management system should be your focus—not the documentation, nor the EMS itself. As such, a truly effective EMS will be made an integral component of your overall management system rather than being operated in parallel. The unique management techniques, tools and information presented in this guidebook will help you get there. The accompanying “Sample EMS Manual: Environmental Management System Model Manual Specific to Pennsylvania Municipal Operations" may be used in conjunction with this guidebook (as Annex H) or as a standalone reference.

For more information, please email

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