To integrate, or not to integrate… Part 4

We’ll conclude our discussion on Integrated Management Systems by looking at the supposed ‘Holy Grail’ of business management: a management system that goes many steps further than simply EHS and quality concerns, and is applied across all business lines, even those outside EHS and Quality realms. This would be a truly integrated management system that could cover areas such as corporate governance, sustainability…basically any business processes and activities.

For example, document control, Corporate Social Responsibility, auditing, and training could be governed along the same integrated management standards. According to Robert Pojasek’s 2006 article in Environment Quality Management, one synergistic or ‘umbrella’ system could enable an organization to ensure the quality of its products…and demonstrate that those products are consistent with the organization’s vision, mission, core values and objectives.”

This idea is based on the premise that, by some means or other, all business activities overlap with some other (if not all other) … Read more...

EPA extends power plant emissions deadline…slightly

While its ambitious agenda to curb greenhouse gases (GHG) has been delayed, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still moving ahead in full force to have power plants – one of the biggest contributors of GHGs – cut emissions drastically.

The EPA announced late last year it would move to push new, strict emissions performance standards on plants and refineries. The move faced stiff opposition from U.S. Republicans, as well as some others opposed to imposed limits on emissions, since it was viewed as a move by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to make up for the fact President Barack Obama failed to pass promised environmental legislation in his first term in office. However, the EPA had a legal mandate from the Supreme Court to move forward on carbon emissions cuts.

This week the EPA indicating it is budging, but only slightly. Its new deadline for proposing a GHG performance standard has … Read more...

Successful Sustainability Strategy Series: Tip #5 — Communicate your performance

We’ve covered the importance of developing a proactive plan, quantifying financial gains, understanding the role of metrics, and using software to manage your sustainability program for the most effective results.

Today let’s talk about the often overlooked element of a winning sustainability program: communicating your progress.

5. Communicate Commitment/Performance to Stakeholders: While the primary function of sustainability initiatives will be the returns they deliver through conservation efforts and a number of other cost-savings effects, don’t miss the boat on the wealth of opportunities that accompany clearly communicating sustainability efforts and accomplishments to stakeholders. When developing a sustainability strategy, consider incorporating an ongoing sustainability reporting plan that conforms to existing frameworks (such as the IIRC, GRI and others).

While some critics have complained that comprehensive sustainability reporting can dominate resources and distract from essential business operations, proper planning, resource allocation and the use of software solutions … Read more...

Successful Sustainability Strategy Series: Tip #4 — Forecast and track with software

So far in our week-long discussion on building a successful sustainability strategy, we’ve reviewed the importance of developing a proactive plan, quantifying financial gains, and understanding the role of metrics.

Now let’s turn our attention to another critical aspect and something that’s dear to our hearts at Intelex: the role of software. Yes, it could be argued we’re more than marginally invested in the role software plays in sustainability, but we still deeply believe it is an essential part of building an effective program.

4. Use Software to Track Metrics and Forecast: Certainly, though conventional paper- and spreadsheet-based platforms can be and are used to track environmental, social and economic performance, the advantage of integrated software solutions over such archaic means is undisputable.

In particular, some configurable software products already geared towards streamlining the management of EHS systems can be extended to cover most if not … Read more...

Successful Sustainability Strategy Series: Tip #3 — The role of metrics

We’ve discussed the value of a proactive strategy and quantifying financial gains in building a sustainability strategy.

Today we’ll look at another critical component of a sustainability strategy that is the heart of the adage “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

3. Understand the Role of Metrics: Before you make your first step into the world of sustainability – before you install that first compact fluorescent lightbulb – it’s imperative to understand you need to know where you’re at.

Along the lines of the lightbulb example above, it can be as simple as starting with an energy audit of your plants, offices, sites and other business units. If you know where you’re at, you can begin to set goals and targets, key elements of any successful sustainability strategy. The progress achieved through each action and each campaign within your sustainability strategy will be much more significant if they … Read more...

Successful Sustainability Strategy Series: Tip #2 — Calculate the ROI

Yesterday we discussed the role of developing a proactive plan in building a successful sustainability strategy.

Today is all about a term CFOs, VPs, Directors, executive team members  like to hear a lot: ROI.

2. Calculate the ROI: You may have achieved the buy-in of senior management, or your CEO may have provided a clear mandate to undertake sustainable development initiatives. Either way, acknowledge sustainability programs are an investment and spell-out in clear, concrete terms the tangible ROI a sustainability strategy will generate on a short- and long-term basis.

As suggested above, some indirect savings values will be coloured by probabilities and expressed as ranges. However, an honest, comprehensive breakdown — which can be developed in-house or facilitated by a consultant or software solutions provider in many cases — will give your organization a clear analysis of what gains can be expected from the adoption of a comprehensive sustainable … Read more...

Successful Sustainability Strategy Series: Tip #1 — Develop a proactive plan

Thinking of developing an organization-wide sustainability strategy?

An uninitiated organization — perhaps a young, yet fast-growing company just beginning to toy with the idea of pursuing sustainability initiatives in the interest of boosting financial performance — might wonder, given the multifaceted, complex purview of sustainable development, where exactly to start. The answer is simpler and more straightforward than you might suspect.

This week we’ll be reviewing five components of a successful sustainability strategy. The first aspect is all about a word we use a lot over here at Intelex: Proactive.

1. Develop a Proactive Strategy: Just as a sustainability framework is an intrinsically integrated framework of interrelated elements affecting all areas of business management, ad hoc and reactive actions have no place in a sustainability management strategy.

Rather than defining policies on a reactive basis, develop a comprehensive, proactive sustainability strategy to build a sustainable development program that is … Read more...

Understanding the business benefits of consensus-based standards

Businesses seek ISO certification for a variety of reasons: attracting and retaining customers and clients, boosting brand image, and more.

Getting executive buy-in for ISO certification can sometimes be a challenge, and even leaders who have made the decision to seek standards certification – be it ISO 9001, ISO 14001, or any other widely used standards – often fail to consider the unsung rewards of certification.

Businesses that implement ISO standards often focus on the perceived burdens of adoption, such as expansive paper trails, demanding document management, and seemingly interminable audits. They forget that, when executed and implemented properly, certification can spell rich financial rewards.

Well, thanks to the folks at the World Standards Cooperative (WSC), an organization that promotes voluntary, consensus-based standards, business leaders have access to a variety of tools that illustrate the business benefits of adopting ISO standards. The WSC website contains links to dozens of such resources, including:

  • A
Read more...

‘If we don’t pass the audit, you can fire me’: Achieving the flawless EMS audit

 

Joey Ebanks, EHS and Training Manager for Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) and Intelex client, dropped by the Intelex offices in Toronto, Canada this week to make a presentation to Intelexians on how CUC is using Intelex software, and how it has boosted the performance of its EHS programs.

Below is an excerpt from his presentation, an excellent anecdote that reflects Joey’s confidence as he entered an audit of his environmental management system (EMS) last month:

“In April we had a surveillance audit. The auditor came back in to look at 50 per cent of our EMS system. And I actually took the weekend off and went to Fort Lauderdale, had some fun. My boss, our VP, was very upset that I was not there, making sure everyone was ready for the audit. But I was absolutely sure we were ready. In fact I said to him, ‘I’m 99 … Read more...

Milk ain’t oil: EPA sides with common sense

Yes, the line’s been used a hundred times in the past few days, but warrants repeating: U.S. dairy farmers needn’t cry over spilled milk any longer.

Beneath the sound and fury of political arguments over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) right (nay, duty) to regulate greenhouse gases, the agency quietly sided last week with milk producers and finally exempted milk from oil spill control regulations.

The EPA has long required shippers of oil tanks and containers to develop spill control and prevention plans. Problem was, this included dairy farmers, since milk is defined as oil under the Clean Water Act because it contains animal fat (an oil). The regulations were originally designed for Big Oil, not farmers, but it has taken a few years for the agency to exempt dairy from the Act’s requirements. With the final ruling, milk, milk product containers, and milk production equipment are exempt from Clean … Read more...