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Environmental Management System

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Improving the environmental performance of an airport is a way of reducing environmental damage. Environmental management system such as ISO 14001 provides a framework for the airport authority to manage their environmental affairs. Implementation of an Environmental Management System that conforms to the ISO 14001 standards helps the airport management authority to integrate environmental values into their operations (Barrow, 1999). Environmental Management System was established by federal government in 1990s in response to the requirements of Executive order 13148, “Greening the Government through Leadership in Environmental Management” in all federal facilities. Implementation of Environmental Management System is crucial since it acts as a main managing methodology for addressing environmental aspects of airport operations and activities (Barrow, 1999).

Effective environmental management should be based on Lessing of resource use, process control, and compliance with the environmental regulations and requirements. Lessing of resource use will support the airport commitment in lessening impacts to the Airport budgets (Barrow, 1999). The control process will essentially result into constant improvement of the management system in the airport. Compliance with the applicable law and regulation will ensure that the Airport meets the minimum set environmental management performance standards. Effective environmental management system will benefit the airport, customers, airport sponsors and the entire community served by the Airport (Barrow, 1999).

An Environmental Management System is a framework that is based on the Plan-Do-check-Act model. When an airport adopts the EMS, it balances its environmental management performance with business goals and objectives through a process of progressive improvement. The key principle of an Environmental management will follow a Plan-Do-Check-Act management model (Vancouver International Airport Authority, 1998). The five EMS principles include the aspects below.

Environmental policy

This EMS principle requires the top management in the Airport to formulate a formally structured statement that outlines the Airport commitment and assurance to environmental pollution prevention, compliance with set standards, and progressive improvement of the EMS (Vancouver International Airport Authority, 1998).

Planning

Environmental planning plays a critical role in development of a roadmap of actions that are necessary for accomplishing all objectives outlined in the policy developed by top management. This principle identifies practices and operations that affect the environment. It sets goals targeting reduction of these effects and track legal and environmental regulations (Vancouver International Airport Authority, 1998). In addition, this principle plays a vital role in drafting of an environmental management plan that outline how objectives and target will be achieved.

Implementation and Operation

This principle involves the processes of accomplishing the plan or the road map formulated under the planning stage. It mainly involves outlining roles, tasks and experts for instituting the EMS requirements and ensuring that they are executed (Vancouver International Airport Authority, 1998). It also provides financial and resources support required in implementation of EMS, and in addressing communication, training, documentation, and emergency preparedness.

Checking and Corrective Action

This principle institutes the means in which the facility will monitor, identify, and correct the environmental problems in the facility.

Management Review

This principle requires the senior management panel to periodically review the environmental management system, and to make recommendations for progressive improvement and development of the system (Vancouver International Airport Authority, 1998).

Benefits of Environmental Management System

Environmental management has been used in private organizations for a long time, but lately, it is proving to be an essential program that every organization needs to integrate in its operation. It is attesting to be a powerful tool that can help in modifying airports’ relation with the environment (Roberts, 1996). An environmental management system does not necessarily bring new procedural requirements, nor does it act as an addition for the existing environmental regulatory requirements Gough, 1994). It will provide replicable and influential methods to the airport such that the airport will be in a position to successfully manage its environmental responsibilities. It will further result to an improvement in its overall environmental performance. It will include areas that are not subject to any legal requirements (Roberts, 1996).

A well implemented Environmental Management system will not only enhance compliance to environmental regulations, but it will go beyond compliance to bring about reduced wastes, inefficiencies in the airport operations and reduce operational costs associated with waste management (Roberts, 1996). It reduces operational costs through energy preservation and waste reduction.  It also reduces remediation costs, insurance costs, law suit fines and costs and worker comp costs. An effective Environmental Management System preserves the natural environmental and thus, reduces the cost of looking for new resources (Roberts, 1996).

Environmental Management System will provide a consistent method to the airport in the management of constraints that may be imposed by future material shortages, complaints by communities living around the airport, or new regulations (Roberts, 1996). It will ensure that the airport operation will proceed without any interference.

Challenges of Implementing and Maintaining Environmental Management System

The benefits accrued from Environmental Management System are not always obvious. Implementing and maintaining this program often faces numerous challenges (Roberts, 1996). Development and implementation of a comprehensive Environmental Management System in an airport setting is complex due to the heterogeneity in the airport infrastructure (Gough, 1994). It can prove to be a challenge in development of environmental management policies. It is also challenging to the airport management in collecting accurate data that relate to things like waste generation as a result of many people in the airport (Gough, 1994). It includes both the travelling and arriving passengers and workers of the airport.

Implementing a comprehensive Environmental Management System involves the designing and implementation of software technologies that precisely and accurately monitors all environmental aspects affected by the airport operation (Gough, 1994). It becomes a challenge in case the airport does not have the capacity and personnel to develop such software, thus, the outside help becomes necessary. Obtaining such help will be an additional cost to the airport.

Maintaining an Environmental Management System ISO certification is also a challenge. It becomes particularly difficult when controlling of certain environmental degradation aspects of airport operation that cannot be avoided (Gough, 1994). Aspects such as noise reduction can prove to be impossible. This may be followed by activities such as law suits by communities living near the airport. In a situation where such communities win in the lawsuits, ISO certification can be revoked (Gough, 1994).

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