Environmental Management Systems (EMS)

An environmental management system (EMS) is a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency.

The EMS framework helps organizations achieve their environmental goals through consistent review, evaluation, and improvement of its environmental performance. The EMS allows for flexibility, as each organization can tailor the framework to meet specific objectives and targets.

An EMS is a proactive approach to addressing regulatory demands and reduces the risk of non-compliance. An EMS can also help address non-regulated issues, such as energy conservation.

Basic Elements of an EMS include:

  • Reviewing the organization's environmental goals.
  • Analyzing its environmental impacts and legal requirements.
  • Setting environmental objectives and targets to reduce environmental impacts and comply with legal requirements.
  • Establishing programs to meet these objectives and targets.
  • Monitoring and measuring progress in achieving the objectives.
  • Ensuring employees' environmental awareness and competence.
  • Reviewing progress of the EMS and making improvements.

Indiana entities who achieve environmental objectives through creating and implementing an EMS may qualify to participate in the Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP). ESP is a voluntary, performance based leadership program designed to recognize and reward Indiana regulated entities for going above and beyond current environmental regulations. In return for their exemplary environmental performance, these establishments will receive program incentives including regulatory flexibility, public recognition, and networking opportunities.

To ensure the quality of environmental management systems for ESP members, IDEM requires that facilities must have the EMS assessed by an independent party (one that is neither directly employed by the applying facility nor has played a substantive role in developing the facility’s EMS). IDEM accepts one of two frameworks for the assessment: