EMAS stands for “Eco-Management and Audit Scheme,” which, when translated into Polish, means “Program Zarządzania Ekologicznego i Audytu.” It is a voluntary environmental management system introduced by the European Union (EU) to assist organizations in improving their environmental management and monitoring the impact of their activities on the natural environment. The aim of EMAS is to encourage various organizations to continuously improve their environmental performance by adhering to environmental standards and regulations and by introducing necessary changes to production and consumption patterns to be more sustainable. The fundamental principle of EMAS is to recognize and reward organizations that voluntarily go beyond the minimum compliance with regulations and consistently improve the environmental impact of their activities. Thus, joining the EMAS system is an entry into the “elite group” of organizations that consider environmental aspects on par with other elements of their operations and continually strive to improve and minimize their environmental footprint.

Participation in the EMAS system is voluntary and available to all organizations, including institutions and commercial enterprises, operating in a non-profit formula. By using this model, organizations aim to achieve better results in their activities while simultaneously increasing their efficiency.

The EMAS system is compatible with the international environmental management standard ISO 14001 but imposes additional requirements regarding compliance with legal regulations, employee involvement, and transparency of activities.

Main Goals and Features of EMAS:

  • Environmental Management: EMAS supports organizations in establishing and implementing an environmental management system that considers aspects related to environmental protection and sustainable development.
  • Environmental Audit: Organizations participating in EMAS are obligated to conduct regular environmental audits, which serve to assess and monitor the impact of their activities on the environment and identify areas requiring improvement.
  • Transparency and Reporting: One of the important aspects of EMAS is the publication of annual environmental reports, informing both internal and external stakeholders about the organization’s environmental protection activities.
  • Employee Engagement and Procurement: Employees and suppliers are encouraged to engage in environmental protection initiatives, promoting awareness and ecological responsibility.
  • Certification: Organizations that meet EMAS requirements and undergo a positive assessment of environmental audits can receive an EMAS certificate, demonstrating their commitment to environmental protection.

The implementation of the EMAS system aims to reduce the organization’s impact on the natural environment and also reduce operating costs. Applying this system leads to the optimization of resource use, consequently improving economic indicators. EMAS can also be a way to distinguish and enhance competitiveness. Through its pro-environmental stance, a company consciously creates a positive image, perceived as modern and caring for the environment. The growing trust of the company’s environment (both customers and stakeholders) resulting from this approach can have numerous benefits in terms of promoting the business. Another promotional tool offered by EMAS is its own logo, providing information that the company belongs to the group of environmentally friendly and socially responsible firms. The introduction of the EMAS system also increases employee engagement and improves the company’s relations with the media and various environmental organizations.

Technical Solutions Supporting EMAS: Environmental Management System (EMS)

The Environmental Management System (EMS) is a structural and procedural set of activities within an organization designed to manage the impact of its activities on the natural environment. EMS assists companies, institutions, and other organizations in identifying, monitoring, controlling, and minimizing the impact of their activities on the environment while complying with applicable environmental regulations. One of the most well-known EMS standards is ISO 14001, an international environmental management standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

ISO 14001 specifies requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and improving an environmental management system within an organization.

The process of implementing ISO 14001 involves steps such ask:

  • Determining the organization’s context: Understanding the internal and external environment of the organization, as well as its environmental goals and responsibilities.
  • Planning: Defining environmental management objectives and action plans, as well as identifying potential risks and opportunities related to the environment.
  • Implementation and operational activities: Introducing and implementing processes, procedures, and activities related to environmental management.
  • Monitoring and measurement: Regularly monitoring and measuring performance in environmental management to assess progress in achieving objectives.
  • Compliance assessment and audits: Conducting audits and compliance assessments with regulations and internal environmental management standards.
  • Continuous improvement and corrections: Continuously improving the environmental management system by identifying areas that require improvement and implementing corrective actions.

EMS helps organizations reduce their environmental impact, decrease costs associated with environmental protection, and meet stakeholder expectations regarding sustainable development. By implementing EMS, organizations can gain a competitive advantage, improve their reputation, and become more environmentally friendly.

EMS can also refer to a computerized system designed for the automatic control and monitoring of electromechanical devices that consume significant energy in a building. These devices include heating, ventilation, and lighting installations. The system can cover a range from a single building to a group of buildings, such as university campuses, office complexes, retail store networks, or factories. Most of these energy management systems also provide the capability to read electricity, gas, and water meters. The collected data can then be used for various self-diagnostic and optimization procedures, as well as for developing trend analyses and forecasts of annual consumption.

Energy management systems are often used by individual commercial entities to monitor, measure, and control their electrical loads in buildings. They can be utilized for centralized control of devices, such as HVAC units and lighting systems, in multiple locations like grocery stores and restaurants. These systems contribute to the efficient management of energy consumption, aiding organizations in optimizing their energy usage, reducing costs, and enhancing sustainability.