Management systems pay off

2nd February 2011

Issue 110 in practice image emas awards



EMAS award winners reap the benefits of EMS

At the end of November 2010, the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) awards were held in Brussels to celebrate the achievements of organisations across the EU which have participated in the scheme.

Organisations of all sizes and from both the public and private sectors were represented in a range of categories.

The main theme for the 2010 awards was resource efficiency, with entrants providing evidence of the measures taken to achieve objectives in a range of areas, from reduction of resource consumption through to development of clean technologies, as part of their application for the awards.

One of the UK EMAS registrants won the category of large public administration organisation. Social housing organisation, Sandwell Homes, based in West Bromwich in the West Midlands, provides housing management and repairs and maintenance services to almost 30,000 council-owned properties.

The organisation is reducing energy consumption and the use of raw materials in the homes it manages, and uses solar panels and photovoltaic cells to generate some of its own energy. Tenant engagement is encouraged through an eco-champion project and examples of good practice are shared on its green website.

Sandwell Homes’ entry impressed the judging panel with its mixture of initiatives to reduce material and energy consumption and the adoption of new technologies improving its overall resource effi ciency.

These initiatives included the “Decent Homes programme”, which included improving the insulation and installing effi cient heating systems into the housing stock managed by the organisation.

It also included the “Going Green” initiative, designed to encourage suppliers to reduce their environmental impact through adopting the BS 8555 phased approach to implementing an environmental management system.

Len Gibbs, chair at Sandwell Homes, received the award from Professor Uwe Schneidewind, chair of the awards judging panel and president of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, during the ceremony in Brussels (pictured above).

Commenting on the award, Gibbs said: “We had already been in the headlines after achieving a place on The Sunday Times Best Green Companies list for a second year running, whilst also receiving a commendation at the West Midlands Low Carbon Economy Awards. However, to be recognised on the European stage really demonstrates Sandwell Homes’ ambition.”

Acorn to EMAS: One route to sustainable business For many organisations the idea of developing and implementing an environmental management system can be a daunting concept.

Over the past few years more than 600 organisations have chosen to use the Acorn Scheme to begin the process of implementing an environmental management system (EMS), often using it as a means to achieve ISO 14001 certifi cation, and in some cases registering for the EMAS – seen by many as the pinnacle of an EMS.

One such organisation is the Royal Bath & West of England Society, which last year became EMAS registered after having its EMS verified and a publicly available environmental statement validated by the verification body VCA.

The Society adopted the Acorn approach in order to achieve its goals and in a 12-month period successfully implemented all the phases en route to EMAS registration.

Dr Jane Guise, chief executive of the Royal Bath & West of England Society, commented on the environmental statement by saying: “EMAS is a significant commitment from us and something we are incredibly proud of. 2009 was a year of hard work and effort putting our EMS in place.

“We worked hard with our accreditation partners VCA, successfully achieving Acorn phases 1–5. We have spent a great deal of time involving all our partners at the Society to promote environmental awareness and best practice around site.”

The Royal Bath & West of England Society highlights how those wishing to engage in the EMS process can use the BS 8555/Acorn Scheme as a route to achieving the highest standards in a flexible and manageable manner.

For further information on the Acorn Scheme visit the IEMA EMS web portal, a one-stop shop for all EMS-related information.

If you have a specific query about how the Acorn Scheme can help improve your environmental performance, contact the team.


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