Environmental Management System

An Environmental Management System (EMS) provides agencies with a systematic approach to managing their environmental and safety issues. 

Following the standard Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle, agencies are given the opportunity to address and potentially mitigate the significant adverse impacts of their activities on the environment. The EMS utilizes an agency’s desire for becoming more environmentally aware. This desire -- this commitment -- must be specifically addressed in a written environmental policy.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 Standard, the recognized framework for developing an EMS, provides specific requirements and principles for environmental management. The standard is designed to help facilities meet their environmental obligations rather than add to their mounting legal requirements. 

GSA bases both its national and regional EMS on the principles of ISO 14001 and incorporates the best practices of other organizations so that its systems remain as effective and efficient as possible. 

For more information on the development of our regional EMS for the Pacific Rim, please contact our EMS Coordinator, Danielle Bogni.

GSA Environmental Policy

The GSA Environmental Policy verbalizes the organization’s commitment to be environmentally responsible. The content of the environmental policy describes the organization's aspirations, evoking the degree of commitment by top management and serving as a beacon to influence the behavior and actions of all members of the organization to high achievement for environmental protection.

Regional EMS Commitment Memo [PDF - 62.54 KB]

EMS Terms>

Activities, Products, and Services - A catch-all phrase that was developed by Technical Committee 207 of ISO to capture all of the things at a facility or organization that can interact with the environment.

Environment - Surroundings in which an organization operates including air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, humans and their interrelation.

Environmental Aspect - Elements of an organization’s activities, products or services that can interact with the environment. (The environmental aspect of an activity is that part of it that creates a possibility for an environmental impact. As such, it is equivalent to the concept of “hazard” in Safety, which is also defined as the mere possibility of a negative event).

Environmental Impact - Change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organization’s activities, products or services.

Environmental Management System - The part of the overall management system that includes organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, integrating, achieving, reviewing and maintaining environmental policy.

Environmental Objective - Overall environmental goal arising from the environmental policy that an organization sets to achieve and which is quantified where practicable.

Environmental Performance - Measurable results of the Environmental Management System, related to an organization’s control of its environmental aspects, based on its environmental policy, objectives and targets.

Environmental Target - Detailed performance requirement, quantified where practicable, applicable to the organization or parts thereof, that arises from the environmental objectives and that needs to be set and met in order to achieve those objectives.

Likelihood - Likelihood is a measure of how often an aspect can be expected to occur within an activity given the probability of its occurrence for each repetition of the activity and the frequency of the activity over time.

Organization - Company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority or institution, or part or combination thereof, whether incorporated or not, public or private, that has its own functions and administration.

Potential Environmental Impact - The potential environmental impact of an aspect is defined by its likelihood of occurrence and likely consequences. (It is equivalent to the concept of “risk” in Safety, which assigns a probability and consequence to the possible negative event that may result from a “hazard”.)

Procedure - A set of instructions on how an activity or process that is often carried out by several individuals or a team is to be performed. EMS Procedures are used to standardize the way in which an organization’s environmental activities are conducted. They contain the information, documents and forms that are necessary for the EMS to function effectively.

Significant Environmental Aspect - This is an environmental aspect that has or can have a significant impact on the environment, the organization, or to the mission of the organization.

Senior Management - That level of management that has executive jurisdiction over the EMS, including the full authority to allocate appropriate resources for its execution.

Last Reviewed 2016-02-19