How to Develop an Environmental Management Plan

Sustainability and environmental management might seem like industry buzzwords, but they’re not optional anymore. Companies that want to continue to grow and thrive in the current economy need to show their client base they are making the necessary changes to protect the environment while still providing essential goods and services.

Why is developing an environmental management plan so important, and how can you start one if you haven’t already? Here are the steps you should take to put an effective strategy in place.

Why Should You Write an Environmental Management Plan?

If you’re opting for sustainable building materials and eco-friendly construction protocols, it’s vital to create an environmental management plan.

The purpose of such a plan is to put those sustainable choices down on paper. You should outline how your project will avoid or minimize the damage done to the surrounding area before you break ground, during construction and after completion.

In some countries, these plans are required by the agency that oversees environmental protection, such as the EPA in the United States. Writing one may mean you need to take extra steps to ensure your current project isn’t damaging local ecosystems. With sustainability at the forefront of everyone’s mind, that push toward eco-friendly construction methods and building supplies is essential.

Monitor Environmental Protection Safeguards

Start by taking a close look at the required safeguards for your project. This list will vary depending on the details of your project. It could include things like:

  • Preventing erosion and sedimentation
  • Managing water, air and noise pollution
  • Preventing fuel and chemical spills
  • Protecting native flora and fauna
  • Preventing invasive plant and animal species from taking hold
  • Preserving heritage and historic sites

These are just a few potential points to include as part of your plan. You will also want to cover things like training, expertise, emergency response procedures and tracking, depending on the particular requirements in your area. Specific tasks, such as dredging waterways or using submersible pumps to remove natural water fixtures, may require additional considerations.

Follow the LEED Certification Checklist

Another thing to include in your environmental management plan is the various aspects of the LEED checklist. There are six main categories to consider when you’re seeking this certification for your newest project:

  1. Design innovation and strategy
  2. Planned indoor air quality
  3. Materials used
  4. Energy usage
  5. Water efficiency
  6. Location

LEED-certified buildings are becoming incredibly popular with eco-minded consumers and business owners. Not only are they better for the environment, but living or working in one reduces your carbon footprint and utility costs.

Outline and Implement Your Plan

Your last step is to outline your plan before implementing it. Although this may seem unnecessary, it can help you find the best order to do things as you move into a new environmental protection plan.

Start with an introduction and a description of the project, then detail it and the requirements and controls you’ll need to put into place. Include any permissions or permits you’ll need to obtain for the specific project as well as any management plans or communication that will play a role in your plan.

At this point, all that’s left to do is implement the plan once you begin the project. The heavy lifting is done.

Protecting the Environment for Our Future

Protecting the environment is essential, not just to earn the loyalty of current and future eco-minded clients, but also to protect our environment for future generations. We’re just caretakers, keeping the Earth healthy for our children and their children after them. Environmental management plans are only one piece of that puzzle.

This article was written by Emily Folk, a freelance writer covering topics in green technology and sustainability. You can follow her on her blog, Conservation Folks, or Twitter @EmilySFolk for her latest updates.

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