Program Areas
Quick Reference
Environmental Management Systems (EMS)


The EMS Program Area includes the latest guidance, examples, and resources for the development and implementation of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency.

Executive Order (EO) 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, encourages the continued implementation of formal Environmental Management Systems (EMS) where those systems have proven effective and deployment of new EMSs where appropriate (Section 7, para (i)).

The following definitions from the EO are applicable to this Program Area:

  • Agency - an executive agency as defined in section 105 of title 5, United States Code, excluding the Government Accountability Office (EO 13693, Section 19, para b).
  • Federal Facility - any building or collection of buildings, grounds, or structures, as well as any fixture or part thereof, which is owned by the United States or any Federal agency or that is held by the United States or any Federal agency under a lease-acquisition agreement under which the United States or a Federal agency will receive fee simple title under the terms of such agreement without further negotiation (EO 13693, Section 19, para l).

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Regulations, Guidance, and Policy


Executive Orders
Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade
19 March 2015
The goal of EO 13693 is to maintain Federal leadership in sustainability and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Signed by President Obama on 19 March 2015. Section 16 of this EO revokes the following:
  • Executive Order 13423 of January 24, 2007;
  • Executive Order 13514 of October 5, 2009;
  • Presidential Memorandum of December 2, 2011 (Implementation of Energy Savings Projects and Performance-Based Contracting for Energy Savings);
  • Section 1 of Presidential Memorandum of February 21, 2012 (Driving Innovation and Creating Jobs in Rural America through Biobased and Sustainable Product Procurement); and
  • Presidential Memorandum of December 5, 2013 (Federal Leadership on Energy Management); and
  • Presidential Memorandum of May 24, 2011 (Federal Fleet Performance).
Need help understanding Executive Order (EO) 13693? Want to know more about how to take action and turn your building into a high-performance building? The Sustainable Facilities Tool can walk you through EO 13693. Click through the annotated text for definitions, strategies, and links.
This GSA-developed chart summarizes the major provisions of Executive Order (EO) 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability for the Next Decade, and how they differ from prior authorities.
Administration Guidance and Policies
This document, dated October 2004 describes what requirements must be followed if a facility/organization does not have an EMS.
Federal Agency Guidance and Policies
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers EMS policy issued 19 May 2003.
Issued by the Office of the Secretary, this is the USDA's EMS policy dated 29 June 2004.
On this site you can find DOC EMS policies, memoranda, procedures, forms, etc... This site also serves as a means of communicating and promoting EMS programs and initiatives within the DOC.
This DOD Instruction 4715.17, issued 15 April 2009, establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for achieving conformance with Environmental Management Systems (EMS).
Issued on Earth Day 2003, this is DOE's EMS policy.
This DHS memorandum, issued October 18, 2008, along with the DHS Directive for Sustainable Practices (issued in September) provides the backbone for the DHS EMS and other Executive Order 13423 sustainable programs (Green Purchasing, Electronic Stewardship, Sustainable Buildings, etc).
Issued by the Secretary of Interior, 26 August 2003, this is DOI's EMS policy.
This Department of Interior Environmental Compliance Memorandum No. ECM08-2, dated December 18, 2008, entitled "Interpretive Guidance on the Department's Environmental Management Systems Policy (515 DM 4)", provides guidance and information to departmental bureaus and office on EMS implementation.
This document contains a memorandum dated 5 September 2008 mandating that in order to "improve our overall environmental compliance and performance .......departmental bureaus and office implement EMS at appropriate organizational levels." The Departmental Manual 515 DM 4 provides guidance on implementing EMS as a means to promote environmental compliance and sound environmental stewardship.
This Department Manual release, 515 DM 4, issued August 13, 2008, updates Departmental policy, responsibilities, and functions on environmental management systems to be conducted on Departmental lands, facilities, operations, and services.
This document, dated 3 February 2009, establishes the environmental policy goals of the DOJ by affirming a commitment to environmental stewardship principles and the development of an EMS.
U.S. Air Force EMS policy issued by Secretary of the Air Force, 5 January 2001.
Issued 12 October 2010, this memorandum updates the EMS and EPAS requirements set forth in AR 200-1.
Issued by the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, this EMS policy is dated 3 March 2004.
Issued by the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, this EMS Policy is dated 6 December.
This Directive, dated 1 July 2008, applies to all Bureaus, the Departmental Offices (DO), the Office of the Inspector General (IG), and the Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Bureaus located in space provided through the General Services Administration (GSA) will partner with GSA to ensure Treasury compliance with applicable environmental requirements.
EPA memo by EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, May 17, 2002.
U.S. Forest Service Manual (FSM) 1300 Management, Chapters 1330 and 1331 are updated as of 3 March 2006. This document details the application of ISO 14001 in the Forest Service, including EMS documentation, self declaration protocols, disclosure, and independent second-party audits.
This document, dated 27 June 2008, establishes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) policy for compliance with environmental regulations, Executive Orders, EMS conformance, and for the management of the IRS Environmental Program.
NASA Procedural Requirement 855.3.1A describes NASA's Environmental Management System (EMS).
Issued on 22 July 2004, this is NIST's EMS policy.
EPA Guidance
This guidance, issued by the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) will increase the use of EMSs in civil settlements and explains how they will be used to address the root causes of violations and the risks they pose to communities and ecosystems. In addition, EPA is working with the U.S. Department of Justice to seek EMSs in appropriate criminal plea agreements to achieve beneficial outcomes for the environment. EPA also has issued a memorandum, Expanding the Use of Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs), to encourage and expand their use in enforcement settlements and in community involvement. The EMS guidance is an extension of EPA’s May 2002 Position Statement on EMSs, in which the agency committed to promote EMS use and emphasize the adoption of EMSs to achieve improved environmental performance and compliance and pollution prevention through source reduction.
USEPA's position statement on the use of EMSs to address an organization's environmental responsibilities -- signed by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, December 13, 2005.
This updated statement replaces the 2002 Position Statement on EMS signed by Administrator Whitman and reflects EPA's experiences to date with the promotion of voluntary EMSs as well as our continued commitment to be a leader in this area. The Position Statement explains EPA's policy on EMSs and the Agency's intent to continue to promote the voluntary wide-spread use of EMSs across a range of organizations and settings. EPA encourages organizations to implement EMSs that result in improved environmental performance and compliance, cost-savings, pollution prevention through source reduction, and continual improvement. (Federal Register: February 2, 2006 [Notices], Page 5664-5665).
This memorandum, dated 28 December 2005, transmits recommended practices for providing EMS-related compliance assistance to Federal Facilities. The memorandum was issued to Regional Federal Facilities Senior Managers, Regional Enforcement Division Directors, Regional Media Division Directors, and Regional Enforcement Coordinators.
This document outlines the recommended practices concerning EMS for EPA staff during federal facility inspections. In particular, EPA staff are encouraged to provide previously-prepared EMS information as a part of compliance assistance and facility education.
International Standards Organization (ISO)
Answers to common questions about ISO 14000.
Developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the 14000 series is primarily concerned with environmental management. The ISO standards must be purchased and so are not replicated here. The family of ISO 14000 standards includes:
  • ISO 14001, Environmental management systems -- Requirements with guidance for use, 2004
  • ISO 14004, Environmental management systems -- General guidelines on principles, systems and support techniques, 2004
  • ISO 14015, Environmental management -- Environmental assessment of sites and organizations (EASO), 2001
  • ISO 14031, Environmental management -- Environmental performance evaluation – Guidelines, 1999
  • ISO 14032, Environmental management -- Examples of environmental performance evaluation (EPE), 1999
ISO/IEC 17021:2006 has been issued and it contains principles and requirements for the competence, consistency and impartiality of the audit and certification of management systems of all types (e.g. quality management systems or environmental management systems) and for bodies providing these activities. Certification bodies operating to this International Standard need not offer all types of management system certification.
Developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), this document is primarily concerned with the management of audit programs. The ISO standards must be purchased and so are not replicated here.
OFEE EMS Reporting Guidance
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ESHMS Guidance
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OMB Scorecard Guidance & Latest Results
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EMS Integration or "Crosswalks"
This guide provides practitioners with a tool to improve NEPA implementation and achieve the environmental sustainability goals laid out in NEPA and Executive Order 13423. The guide provides examples of how NEPA and EMS together can help federal agencies more effectively manage their environmental responsibilities. For example, identifying environmental aspects in the development of an EMS can build on aspects identified in previous NEPA analyses. Conversely, a new NEPA analysis can consider the identified environmental aspects in an EMS when assessing potential environmental impacts of a proposed future action.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (E-Pact) established new statutory requirements specifically designed to improve the environmental management of federal facility underground storage tanks (USTs). Executive Order 13423 Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management, requires that federal agencies implement environmental management systems (EMS) at all appropriate organizational levels. This EPA document provides guidance and examples of how efforts to address Underground Storage Tank regulatory requirements and implement best management practices for UST operations can work in concert with Environmental Management System implementation.
(EPA 742-R-05-001) The goal of this report is to help Federal facilities integrate green purchasing into their EMS. The intended audience includes those tasked with implementing an EMS, reducing environmental impacts, meeting green purchasing requirements and/or buying products and services in a Federal facility.
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Supporting Information and Tools
Databases/Software Tools
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A non-profit, non-partisan, world federation of national associations for environmental management and sustainable development. Their site contains articles, case studies, and tools on environmental management, as well as links to other EMS sites.
ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 148 countries, on the basis of one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. The ISO 14000 family of standards are the basis of environmental management systems throughout the world.
Supporting Information and Tools Bottom Border
Lessons Learned
Award Winners
This award is given to recognize efforts to ensure mission accomplishment and protection of human health through implementation of environmental management systems, pollution prevention, and environmental compliance that promotes sustainability in the areas of environmental planning, waste management, and land, air and water resource protection. These are annual awards celebrating the previous years' accomplishments/innovations. Nominations are typically accepted until March and the awards given in June.
Contains proposed language for inclusion in Statements of Work for new on-site contracts.
Contains proposed language for inclusion in Statements of Work for current/existing on-site contracts.
U.S. Department of Defense's environmental management system's home page. Contains DoD-wide and Service-specific EMS policy and guidance, tools and training material, POCs, presentations, pilot studies and other useful information.
This guide is designed to explain environmental management system (EMS) concepts and to support and facilitate the development of EMS among small and medium-sized organizations.
The Executive Summary of a 2 volume in-depth study funded by the EPA Office of Water and Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation at EPA. This study, was designed to determine if EMSs do in fact improve environmental performance. Baseline information, information on EMS design, and information on changes in performance were collected from each facility over several years. This study was also supported by a number of states, through the Multi-State Working Group on Environmental Management Systems. State managers played a critical role in ensuring data quality and worked closely with a number of facilities involved in the research.
Volumes 1 and 2 of an in-depth study funded by the EPA Office of Water and Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation at EPA. This study, was designed to determine if EMSs do in fact improve environmental performance. Baseline information, information on EMS design, and information on changes in performance were collected from each facility over several years. This study was also supported by a number of states, through the Multi-State Working Group on Environmental Management Systems. State managers played a critical role in ensuring data quality and worked closely with a number of facilities involved in the research.
An article by Edward A. Boling, Deputy General Counsel for the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), reprinted with permission from ELR News & Analysis, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C., focusing on the interplay of NEPA and EMS at federal facilities.
This guide is designed to help Federal managers who are considering adopting an environmental management system (EMS).
EMS Development
This is derived from a list of facilities, activities, tasks, aspects and impacts developed for the Department of the Army. The Army-specific facilities have been deleted (i.e. bombing ranges) and the language modified to reflect more common-use terms (i.e. “vehicle maintenance” instead of “Auto Hobby Shop”). This is not a comprehensive list, instead, it is a starting point. The Facility Types in this list include, but are not limited to: Automotive Service Station; Cafeteria; Car Wash; Dental Clinic; Domestic Wastewater Treatment Facility; Fossil-Fuel Electric Generating Plant; Fuel Dispensing; Hazardous Waste Storage Area; Historic Sites; Housing; Individual Sewage Systems; Medical Centers and Hospitals; Oil/Water Separators and Grit Traps; Pesticide Storage Area; Remediation Site; Tank Truck Load/Unload Facility; Underground Storage Tank System (UST); Universal waste storage area, Vehicle Maintenance; and Wetlands.
This EMS guide, developed in 2004 by the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, was prepared for the manager(s) of any Federal site, facility, installation, office or organization where those individuals have authority to allocate resources and direct activities.
The Implementing Instructions for Executive Order 13423 require agencies to commit to proactive communications with interested parties, ideally as part of their environmental management systems (EMSs). From 2003 to 2005, the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive led a team, consisting of Federal and state agencies, that created a cross-walk identifying available guidance documents regarding environmental communications. The intent of these documents is to assist organizations in developing proactive communications procedures and processes using the EMS Plan, Do, Check, Act model.
Help for determining where effort needs to be exerted to develop a robust EMS.
EPA's EMS basics website, including why develop an EMS, how to develop and EMS, costs and benefits, etc.
Sample EMS costs tracking matrix.
Example position description for senior environmental protection specialist/analyst in the area of environmental management.
A series of suggested questions that are to be a guide when interviewing potential registrars in preparation for ISO 14001 certification.
EMS Examples
Developed by the Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (ITRC) and dated February 2005. This document is designed to help range operators, regulators, and others develop a consistent approach to the evaluation and deployment of appropriate practices and technologies at applicable sites.
The Green Environmental Management Systems (GEMS) Program represents a systematic approach to environmental management, providing a framework to weave existing environmental programs into VHA's Environment of Care management processes, which enables the organization to achieve continual improvement in performance. Within the Environment of Care Program, the GEMS Guidebook will provide for environmental regulatory compliance and conformance with VHA policy and Executive Order 13148. This is a link to the Web-based version dated March 2004 with updates as of April 2005.
The Chesapeake Bay Program is a partnership that includes State and Federal agencies, advocacy groups, and interested persons. EPA Region 3 has spearheaded the application of EMS principles as part of managing the Chesapeake Bay. This is the version 3 release.
Powerpoint presentation detailing NASA's EMS program.
Issued by the Department of Energy (DOE), dated November 2009, this tool provides assistance for developing site environmental management systems (EMSs) to 1) implement sustainable practices for enhancing environmental, energy, and transportation performance, and 2) include the environmental, energy, and transportation objectives and measurable targets that contribute to achieving the Department of Energy's (DOE) sustainable environmental, energy, and transportation goals. This Tool was developed to complement sustainable practices training for DOE sites. The immediate user of this tool is likely to be the EMS coordinator at a facility.
Measuring EMS Implementation/Success
These metrics are provided to allow agencies, organization and facilities that are implementing an Environmental Management System to plan for reporting fiscal year 2009 progress, performance and successes. Each agency will be requested to provide a summary of this information. These metrics will be used until 2011 and may be amended by the E.O. Interagency Environmental Leadership Workgroup or the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive to reflect new information. This version dated 2009-10-15 reflects the removal of the Performance Track recognition question due to termination of that program.
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Training, Presentations, and Briefings
Senior management briefing developed by OFEE.
The DHHS version of the Army’s EMS Manager’s Guide.
Dept. of Interior's EMS awareness training presentation, dated August 2007.
Introduction to EMS auditing concepts.
A MS Powerpoint presentation that was given to senior officials at the Department of Justice headquarters building in July, 2004.
This course provides an overview of environmental management systems (EMS) and how EMS can support environmental improvements at facilities that are subject to environmental regulations. It also presents information regarding the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) involvement in supporting EMS efforts at facilities regulated under a number of environmental statutes, including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This training course will take about 1 hour to complete.
Generic version of the Army’s EMS Manager’s Guide.
One page management brief.
The intended audience for this guide is Top managers, that is: managers of any site, office, site, or other organization who have authority to allocate resources and direct activities. This guide many also be valuable for any individual with responsibility for directing activities and allocating resources at their organization, or with other responsibility for employees or operations.
Conferences and Events
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Last Updated: October 20, 2015