DEVELOPING AN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
One of the most critical elements of becoming an environmentally friendly hotel is the adoption of a new culture that extends throughout the hotel organization, and between the hotel and its guest, local community, and even its vendors. We call this an environmental management system (EMS).
An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a comprehensive organizational approach designed to incorporate environmental protection into the operation of any organization. The ISO 14000 series developed by the International Standards Organization forms the global standard for EMS implemenation and certification . However, other systems exist and numerous organizations have incorporated an EMS without seeking certification.
Figure 1: Global ISO 14000 registrations, 1995-2000.
After a quiet beginning in the mid-1990's, organizations around the world have been embracing environmental management systems to reduce costs, liabilities; improve image and marketability; and respond to client demand.
The World Travel and Tourism Council's GREEN GLOBE 21 international certification has developed an EMS standard specifically for the hospitality industry . This system is tailored for hotel managers and the program offers industry related support.
Hotels that effectively incorporate an EMS into their organization reap many benefits. Patrons seeking assurances they are supporting an operation that protects the environment represent a growing sector in the tourism marketplace. An EMS enhances the hotel's image and opens opportunities to attract environmentally concious consumers. Furthermore, an EMS is becoming a requirement for many business relationships as more companies demand that their suppliers and clients meet their standards .
Overall, the hotel can improve efficiency and reduce operating costs by setting specific and realistic performance targets and objectives that the entire organization can work towards. More often than not, the economic benefits are more than enough to initiate an EMS in any organization.
Although many hotel operations today have incorporated environmental activities into their operations, the vast majority do not have an effective system in place to define goals, measure sucesses, and coordinate the range of activities. An EMS defines the process and direction while providing guidance to all aspects of hotel management and may combine multiple environmental programs already being executed. It is important to understand that numerous efficiencies and improvements are realized through changes to operating procedures.
A means of ensuring effective implementation of an environmental management plan or procedures and compliance with environmental policy objectives and targets. A key feature on any effective environmental management system (EMS) is the preparation of documented system procedures and instructions to ensure effective communication and continuity of implementation. There are certification systems for EMS ISO 14001 and EC´s EMAS scheme (EMAS is now compatible with ISO 14001) which demonstrate that a system is operated to an internationally recognised standard. Alternatively a customised system can be developped addressing the particular needs of the operation. 
Components of an EMS (Green Globe 21):
- An environmental policy that clearly communicates the hotel's committment to maintaining the social, cultural and physical environment
- An action plan to guide the property's actions and expenditure of resources
- The implementation or operations of the EMS that encompasses all of the property's actions relative to the environment, including awareness and training, staff procedures, incentive programs, and community outreach among other things
- Corrective action or monitoring to ensure that the EMS performs as expected, allowing for responsive actions to capture things such as leaking toilets and chemical spills and review, typically by senior management, to determined how to improve the EMS and the level of compliance with the hotel's environmental policy
|Steps to Implemenation|
An EMS is a continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving the processes and actions that an organization undertakes to meet its business and environmental goals. Most EMSs are built on the "Plan, Do, Check, Act" model.
This model leads to continual improvement based upon:
- Planning, including identifying environmental aspects and establishing goals [plan];
- Implementing, including training and operational controls [do];
- Checking, including monitoring and corrective action [check]; and
- Reviewing, including progress reviews and acting to make needed changes to the EMS [act].
The major components of an EMS are:
- Implementation and Operation
- Checking and Corrective Action
- Management Review
1. Education - Read through the previous sections of this web site to broaden your knowledge and perspective on the topic of environmental management of hotels. Review the following web sites: Green Globe 21, ISO 14000. Consider staff education opportunities.
2. Form a Team - Select an interested employee from each department to join the environmental team. Be sure to include all levels of management. Ideally the team is managed by a top level manager to ensure cooperation and action through all levels of the organization.
3. Develop and Write an Environmental Policy for the Hotel - This policy needs to be brief yet comprehensive in defining the overall direction of the hotel towards the environment. The policy intent should apply to all aspects of the organization.
4. Designate a Champion - Choose one person that is particularly keen on the topic of environmental management and performance to drive the overall process and who can work to integrate the system amongst different departments.
5. Develop a List of Environmental Impacts for each Department - Allow each department to examine their processes and activities thereby becoming educated to the impacts and responsibilities of their respective departments.
6. Qualify and Quantify as many of the Impacts as possible - Describe and measure the impacts. An accurate assessment of the impacts will make it easier to define targets and to determine whether goals are being achieved.
7. Rank the Impacts in order of severity, ease of fixing, cost to fix - Choose a number of ranking schema to order the impacts. At minimum order the impacts by environmental impact and cost to fix for each department and as an entire hotel.
8. Determine and Define a set of Objectives - By the team, decide what the objectives will be in the short, medium, and long term. These can be overall themes that span the organization (for example: 10 percent water use reduction, 25 percent energy use reduction).
9. Set Targets for each Objective with clear timelines - Define a number of targets for each objective. Decide upon dates to measure progress.
10. Define responsibilities for each Target - Delineate responsibilities for each target. By distributing responsibilities, a competitive environment is formed and success or failure is not reliant on a single person.
11. Document Objectives, Targets, and Responsibilities - Document the environmental team organization, impact assessment, objectives and targets, and timelines. Effective documentation will illustrate benefits, indicate progress, and provide the information needed for audits and certification.
|Build an EMS for your hotel or organization.|
1. International Standards Organization (ISO 14000)
2. Green Globe 21
3. Meade, Bill and Antonio del Monaco, Environmental Management: The Key
to Successful Operation. Hotel-Online, USA, 1999.
4. European Environmental Agency