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The overall goal of EMS planning is to set objectives and targets for improving environmental performance. The City does this by analyzing all of the possible impacts City operations could have on the environment and then selecting the highest priority items to focus on. An objective, for example, might be reducing air emissions; a target (something that can be quantified and measured) would be to reduce these emissions by, say, 10 percent per year. Along with this comes a commitment from City management to provide the resources necessary to achieve these objectives and targets.
Now comes the implementation phase. First, someone is appointed to manage the EMS (in the City’s case, it’s the director of the Office of Environmental Quality). This manager and others create a structure, which becomes the mechanism for telling employees citywide about the EMS, helping them understand that their jobs have impacts on the environment, and then helping them implement EMS procedures and goals in their various workplaces. This “doing” phase also includes communicating EMS goals to the community at large, having clearly written policies, procedures and records, and finally developing procedures for any emergencies that may occur: spills, emissions, accidents and such.
From time to time, the City will measure how successfully it is achieving its environmental objectives. Trained EMS auditors will routinely check the EMS to ensure that procedures are being followed and goals met. They will bring discrepancies to appropriate managers and employees. The idea here is not to punish, but to correct any problems and continually improve operations (a process of perpetual learning). It also recognizes good performance and anticipates problems before they occur.
There is a formal annual review of the EMS by senior management. The process depends on managers asking key questions: Are we meeting our objectives and targets? Are we saving money? What changes seem necessary to help the EMS function better? They may decide that changes to the EMS need to be made and “Act” to make improvements. These questions bring the entire process back again to the planning phase, and the cycle begins anew.
Environmental Management System
What Dallas City Employees Say about Protecting the Environment:
Deborah Zimmern, Grounds Manager, Dallas City Zoo:
“We feel great about our composting program here at the zoo. We’ve saved money for the City of Dallas. We have protected the environment. It’s a great example of what EMS can—and will—do for the City.”
Diana Richard, Dallas Streets Department:
“When the employees first heard about EMS they were real negative about it—because they were not aware what it was about. But when they started seeing the different components of it, and seeing how it worked, they became more positive about EMS, and what they wanted to do to help the environment. EMS is making our employees’ jobs a lot easier.”
Sgt. Mike Gurley of the Dallas Police Department, about environmental improvements at the City’s Auto Pound:
“We went through about a year of different suggestions and recommendations and, really last spring, it all came together, where we started to put together a plan. We looked, first of all, at what were we doing that impacted water quality, and we changed some of the things we did. And so at that point then we developed, along with some of the other city departments, a clean-up process. The final step that we’ve taken is, we’ve had ten oil/water separators put in.”
“Two years ago if you drove out on this lot you saw a lot of debris, you saw leaky cars. Today, when that same car comes in, we immediately will stop, and clean up that oil with our four-step process. We now know that the efforts and the contributions of our employees have greatly increased the quality of the water as it leaves our property and goes into the Trinity River.”
“We also saw that it was not that complex, so as we develop, and as we become part of the EMS, then we already know that the processes that we’re doing are going to have to be continued, and of course refined and expanded, to where we can have a better impact on the environment.”
“We try to think that everyday here at the auto pound is Earth Day.”
Jill Jordan, Assistant City Manager:
“We often talk about empowering our employees—and that’s what the EMS is actually all about. It’s about the individual seeing an environmental issue or problem, or a potential problem, and taking personal responsibility for a smart solution. One of the key ideas behind the EMS is this: It believes nobody understands a particular job better than the person who actually has to do it everyday. And so it gives everyone the power to look for ways that make your job safer and better for the environment. I’d like to think the EMS is going help everyone who works for the City of Dallas enjoy their job more, to be more of a leader, and to have an easier time in their day-to-day work lives.