Set up an environmental management system (EMS)

photo Set up an environmental management system (EMS)


An environmental management system (EMS) is a management tool that enables a company to adopt organisational measures to control and reduce environmental impacts. The corporate environmental policy is pursued over time, and regularly updated and improved, allowing the enterprise to steadily improve its performance.
EMS involves considerable work on environmental management, production processes, in-house and external communication. It covers organisational structure, planning, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources, with a view to elaborating an environmental policy.


The main objectives of an EMs are:
- Compliance with regulations, or anticipation and better performance than required
- Knowledge of environmental impacts of the enterprise
- Manage environmental risks
- Reduce energy, water and raw materials consumption
- Hold down costs
- Improve overall management system performance
- Gain competitive advantage.
- Give the enterprise a better image.
- Establish transparent communication with customers and staff, etc.

Setting up an environmental management system means rethinking organisation at the enterprise from top to bottom, addressing environmental issues for all jobs and departments. This is a voluntary undertaking. Environmental management systems include a number of measures related primarily to management. Environmental measures (replacing light bulbs, waste separation, etc.) are not set by standards (unlike label criteria) for it is up to each entity to set its own objectives in a detailed action plan. Setting up an EMS in a tourist accommodation establishment can be complementary to environmental certification; an EMS will help managers organise general operations in ways to fulfil the requirements of environmental certification.
An EMS generally refers to a certifiable process (ISO 14001, EMAS), but establishment can develop their own EMS. The European Ecolabel includes criteria for environmental management: regulatory compliance, environmental policy, action plan, staff training, etc.

One of the fundamental principles of EMS is the Deming cycle of continual improvement to enable the entity to control the environmental impacts of its activity. An EMS involves the entity in a process designed for ongoing improvement of environmental performance, and ensures compliance with environmental regulations.

International environmental certification – ISO 14001 standards

ISO 14001 is a set of rules for integrating environmental concerns into business activity, so as to reconcile operational constraints with control of environmental impacts. It is the reference standard for EMS. It covers environmental impacts of activities, products and services of the business entity. ISO 14001 can be applied to all or part of a given site. This standard is drawn up by the International Organization for Standardization, a global federation of national standards bodies from some 140 countries. An audit is conducted by a recognised independent organisation every three years, with more frequent (annual) verifications in some instances.
Along with ISO 14001 a number of standards are in effect for certification:
- ISO 14001 and ISO 14004 outline the main principles of use and set specifications for EMS implementation.
- ISO 14010, ISO 14011 and ISO 14012 define the principles and procedures of an environmental audit, and criteria for the qualification of environmental auditors.
ISO 14001 is also a component of the triple quality-security-environmental certification under ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, that enables entities to develop a global risk management policy. These three standards are based on a common model, making integration easy. ISO 26000 is also based on this model, among others.

Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)

The EU EMAS tool is designed to help companies and other organisations assess, improve and promote their environmental performance.
EMAS comprises:
- setting up an ISO 14001 environmental management system (EMS)
- publication of an annual environmental statement reporting the environmental action undertaken by the organisation and results achieved
- verification of compliance with environmental regulations by the organisation, by consulting authorities charged with regulatory compliance (in France, DREAL)

1.2.3 Environnement:

The Assembly of French Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACFCI), with AFNOR and ADEME, have developed a mechanism to help SMEs move toward ISO 14001 or EMAS certification in three stages, obtaining third-party recognition for their work at each intermediate stage (Level 1, Level 2 and ISO 14001 certification). The corresponding AFNOR criteria repository is entitled FD X30-205.
Seven certification bodies are qualified to attribute certification at these three levels. Group assistance for the 1.2.3 Environnement process is offered by some regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry. If you work with a consulting firm for help in this process, 50% of the cost of this service can be reimbursed by ADEME (download subsidy form).

EnVol, simplified approach for SME/SMIs and artisan enterprises:

In 2009 ADEME, ACFCI, the Permanent Assembly of Trade Chambers (APCM) and other partners created a multisectoral mark for companies, called EnVol - Engagement volontaire de l'entreprise pour l'environnement. This approach is based on the first level of AFNOR FD X30-205 criteria (staged environmental management); it allows a small enterprise to obtain recognition for its environmental efforts without tackling a more complex certification process such as required to meet the ISO 14001 standard.


 - obtain information on eligible SME/SMIs (list below)
 - contact the competent authorities

Setting up an EMS follows several key stages:
- Environmental analysis: looking at all activities and services at the establishment, ascertain and rank environmental impacts
- list all national and local (region, department, municipality) regulations that apply to tourist accommodation services and assess the establishment's performance and compliance
- draw up an environmental policy that includes a commitment to ongoing improvement, as well as compliance with applicable environmental regulations and other requirements which the establishment has pledged to respect
- set up an "environment" team, specifying the role and responsibility of each employee
- construct and action plan, focusing on areas in which the establishment does not meet the European Ecolabel criteria, is not in compliance with regulations, or where its impacts are greatest.
- set up a procedure to monitor action and areas of non-compliance
- information for customers and training for employees


Costs are variable, depending on whether the organisation's environmental action is supported by a CCI and partly funded by ADEME, or whether the SME is acting in the framework of certification. In this second case there will be a least one day of onsite auditing, an annual follow-up, an audit for renewal of certification, etc.
Contact the appropriate organisations for further information and a cost estimate.


- integrate regulatory constraints,
- satisfy customer demand,
- improve your corporate image
- motivate your employees.


 Rigid administrative nature of ISO 14001 certification due to highly formal requirements