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Lessons Learned from a Corporate Commitment to Enhanced Environmental Management Systems

Kim M. Fowler, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Based on Battelle's experience with establishing effective environmental management systems (EMS) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories that it operates/co-operates and due to its commitment to being a learning organization, we want to share the lessons learned with other Research and Development organizations to assist them with increased EMS deployment speed and saved resources. As part of Battelle's commitment to environmentally responsible operations, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have established an enhanced EMS that focuses on environmental hazard identification, control and monitoring throughout the work life-cycle.

Some of the components that we have learned are key to effective EMSs include strong senior management commitment, integration into organizational business systems, performance based management and review processes, innovative work planning, defined roles and responsibilities for key stakeholders, deployment of environmental expertise throughout the line organization, chemical management systems, and proactive legacy waste, pollution prevention, communication and community involvement programs. This approach has resulted in substantial improvements in accountability, hazard and waste reductions, cost savings, and compliance at these DOE Laboratories.

For these Laboratories, Battelle opted for the rigor of the registration process, as the independent audits provide validity and credibility, and help assure that the system is sustained and continually improving. Their EMSs also go beyond ISO 14001, by placing additional emphasis on achievement of full compliance, pollution prevention, and effective and focused communications and community outreach. This presentation will share what worked well and will identify the challenges we faced while developing these EMSs.

Labs21 Connection:

Enhanced EMSs have resulted in all three Laboratories experiencing improved accountability; significant reductions in hazards, waste generation and resource use; substantial cost savings associated with pollution prevention; and, improved compliance status. The laboratories have implemented a holistic approach that is fully integrated with other business systems including facilities and operations. Battelle's efforts have been recognized by national, state and local entities including the 2004 White House Closing the Circle Award for EMSs.

The Laboratories continue to build academic and institutional partnerships in science and technology and related fields to work for a cleaner and safer environment. Community spirit is strong with staff volunteerism, corporate contributions, and educational outreach programs. Battelle's performance based management, field service models and chemical management system have been adopted by other DOE national laboratories, DOD sites, and private industry. Battelle's EMS's can be used as a model for other organizations and through this presentation we want to share our lessons learned with those interested in our holistic approach to EMSs.


As a Senior Research Engineer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Kim M. Fowler specializes in the areas of pollution prevention, sustainable design, and environmental management systems. She works for private industry and government clients establishing new environmental programs, evaluating processes for efficiency opportunities, and assessing the environmental, social and economic consequences of process, product, and facility designs.

Ms. Fowler is a U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED™) accredited professional. She has co-authored two handbooks: Pollution Prevention Opportunity Assessments for Research & Development Laboratories (Battelle Press) and How Interested Parties Become Partners: A Communications Guide for Sustainable Development (Battelle Press, summer 2004 release). She has also co-authored chapters in the Handbook of Complex Environmental Remediation Problems (McGraw-Hill) and Unfolding Stakeholder Thinking (Greenleaf Publishing). She is an adjunct faculty member at Washington State University in the Environmental Science and Engineering Departments and holds a master's degree in Environmental Engineering (Washington State University) and a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Business Administration (Pacific Lutheran University).

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