Environmental Management Systems: Informing Organizational Decisions

EPA Grant Number: R829407
Title: Environmental Management Systems: Informing Organizational Decisions
Investigators: Lave, Lester , Hendrickson, Chris
Institution: Carnegie Mellon University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: November 1, 2001 through October 31, 2003
Project Amount: $323,265
RFA: Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice


Actions to improve companies' environmental performance now include voluntary programs that encourage organizations to go beyond regulatory compliance. Environmental management systems (EMS) are a recent voluntary initiative expected to produce general reductions in pollution discharges. Unlike voluntary programs such as Green Lights or 33/50, the specific goals and benefits of EMS implementation at the national level have not been defined, either for the company or for environmental protection. Moreover, there has not been a comprehensive evaluation of the benefits of EMS. Participating companies expect to lower environmental costs or improve performance. Society should benefit from reduced energy consumption, pollution, and waste generation. However, not all EMSs will be equally effective. For example, a process-oriented EMS, such as ISO 14000, may not provide a comprehensive view of environmental issues across an organization or develop the data needed to assess environmental improvements and cost savings.


We propose to examine existing EMSs. First, at a macro-level, we propose to assess the change in environmental performance as a result of adopting an EMS, as well as the effect of a deeper commitment to environmental performance. This analysis will use publicly available information to compare facilities with an ISO 14000 certified EMS to those without a certified EMS with respect to emissions levels and compliance status. Second, at a micro-level, we propose to examine the relevant data and analysis to inform company decisions. This phase involves in-depth inquiry with participating organizations to determine the availability and use of data from EMS and other sources. The collected data will provide a basis for identifying the EMS attributes that are useful and necessary for decision-making.

Expected Results:

Organizational leaders can use the results to improve the effectiveness of existing or new EMS. A final result will be a model for an EMS that includes information necessary for informed company decisions that can reduce the environmental burden of firms. Policy makers can use the result to determine requirements for a potential voluntary program for implementation of environmental management systems.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 5 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

voluntary environmental initiatives, risk management, pollution prevention, public policy, decision making, cost benefit., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, decision-making, Urban and Regional Planning, Economics & Decision Making, environmental management systems (EMS), ISO 14000, decision making, measuring benefits, ISO 14000 certified EMS, measuring environmental performance, environmental values, cost/benefit analysis, environmental policy

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final Report