Glasgow Caledonian University was awarded a platinum medal in the Eco campus Environmental Management System award scheme. It became the first University from Scotland to achieve such a fete. Platinum medal is the highest in the eco campus program award scheme. It is an implicit agreement of the Universitys achievement of a fully operational and sustainable Environmental Management System. Therefore, this essay sets to expound on the eco campus and EMS concept. It also critically does an appraisal on the specific projects undertaken by the university to earn the platinum medal. A critical analysis of the positive aspects of the scheme will be looked at. The challenges and negative aspects in running EMS systems will also be discussed. Specific areas that if improved, will enable Glasgow university further excel in its environmental management efforts will be noted too.
EMS, an abbreviation for Environmental Management System, denotes a program designed to help organizations achieve a sustainable environment management practice (Environmental management systems and ISO 14001, 1999). The eco campus program on the other hand, is an award scheme that was initiated in 2005. It started in the United Kingdom and was originally a 10 member English universities program. In 2008, new members joined the original group. It is a non-profit scheme that seeks to promote environmental conservation efforts throughout universities with the hope that there will be a spillover effect on the general public.
The eco campus scheme is tailored in such a way that the universities must undertake EMS programs. There is then a sliding level scale the member universities must pass through before reaching the platinum level in EMS systems before being ISO 14001 certified. At the bottom is the bronze level. After confirmation that the university has completed optimal planning tasks and procedures necessary for the environmental management system; a bronze medal is thus given. Thereafter, the silver medal is given upon implementation of tasks that were outlined at the bronze level. The gold medal follows and is given to universities that have started operational tasks towards achieving their EMS goals. Then finally, the universities that have achieved a fully operational and auditable EMS, doing maintenance and corrective tasks on their systems are awarded the platinum medal (Edwards, 2004).
Upon achieving the platinum medal, the university can then apply for ISO 14001 certification. The award recognizes its international standard on environmental management (Block, 2006). It is given after thorough audits of the universitys EMS system. The system, though usually not done for commercial reasons, is profitable in the long run through cost saving in the sectors of resource, waste and energy management (Schoffman and Tordini, 2000). It also enhances the Universitys image in the corporate world.
Anecdotal and experimental reports show that environmental management confers various benefits not only to the universities implementing the system but also to the external environment. The underlying objective of environmental management is usually to cut costs while improving performance (Prakash and Potoski, 2006). There are more benefits the universities can gain as a result of an operational EMS.
EMS ensures that the environment is protected from pollution. Human beings thrive best in a pollution free environment. In undertaking this program, the universities are guaranteed of safe working surrounding. It will attract more customers and students will want to join the university. For companies, customers are more susceptible to be loyal to companies whose environments have good management systems.
The other positive aspect of EMS is that it ensures compliance with legal requirements. Most regulatory bodies have outlined compliance guidelines that companies should adhere to. In most of these compliance requirements, environmental conservation usually take precedence. An effective EMS system guarantees an organization comply with legal requirements by most of these regulatory bodies (Whitelaw, 2004).
An EMS system is also vital in raising pro-ecological awareness within an organization. In the case of universities, awareness among students and staff will ensure that individual persons are more concerned on environmental issues. They then transfer what they observe and learn from the work environment to their homes. In the long run, this will be able to push awareness to the whole society thus improving environmental conservation efforts.
Environmental Management Systems have also been found out to improve efficiency in an organization. Since the system is premised around reduction of waste and pollution, organization usually devise easier mechanisms to achieve tasks with less pollution. For instance, recycle is a text book case of improved efficiency in the work environment which also manages wastes.
Organizations undertaking environmental management are also poised to gain a good corporate image. Customers, donors, local communities and the government encourage pollution elimination efforts. They are therefore more inclined towards organizations undertaking EMS programs.
Since the organizations image is improved, it is easier for it to form partnerships. Other like-minded players in the sector will be more willing to form partnerships with organizations that have also put credible efforts in conserving the environment. The organizations also have a higher chance of receiving support from different quarters in form of grants, investment allowances and tax breaks. The EMS program also enables the organizations improve the working environment. For instance, for universities, a contaminants free environment will improve performance. Employees under a good environment are more efficient than those working under poor environmental conditions.
Despite the fact of the many positive impacts of the environmental management system, it has also some weaknesses worth noting. These are the negative aspects of undertaking such programs. The first is the initial cost involved in putting up an effective EMS system. Since most environment management systems non-profitable in the short-run, or the benefits they confer are economically not quantifiable, the organizations are usually tangled in financing problems when they want to jumpstart an EMS system.
The other negative aspect of EMS is that it is a voluntary process. In as much as organizations may wish to undertake such programs, it is usually as a result of pressure from the stakeholders rather than compliance requirement by law. Therefore, other organizations and companies that choose not to implement the program may undertake activities that have negative impacts on the environment. This will be at the expense of the exemplary work being done by EMS compliant organizations to reduce environmental pollution.
Finally, there is a lack of awareness on the ISO14001 programs and EMS systems in two major aspects. First is the lack of awareness by the general public. There havent been enough efforts to educate the masses on the process and most of the system can only be understood in professional circles and environmental policy makers roundtables. Secondly, awareness of the schemes is only limited to big corporations and organization. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) lack awareness of EMS programs. This is particularly important worth noting since majority of companies are in the SMEs category. The SMEs should therefore be thoroughly engaged in order to push the agenda of environmental management system.
Glasgow Caledonian University was recently ISO 14001 certified as a result of its achievements in the Environmental Management System. The university has undertaken various projects that have gone well into ensuring that environmental management reaches a platinum status in the institution. A classic example is their cycling promotion program christened reCYCLE. It is an initiative whereby the university acquires unwanted, old or disposed bikes, refurnishes them then donates them in order to inculcate a cycling culture amongst the universitys members and the local community at large. For this initiative, the university recently became the first institution in Scotland to win Cycle Friendly Award. Which is by definition a scheme that was created to recognize the efforts of those who work in promoting a cycling culture.
The above actions were significant in helping the school achieve its platinum status because of their impact in environmental conservation. First, there is the act of recycling the solid waste in form of old dilapidated bikes. With disposal being a major problem around the globe (Barnham, 2008), the act of reusing and recycling old bikes helps in waste management by the society.
Recycling old bikes also pushes for cost minimization in the transportation sector. With efficiency in utilization of the scarce resources being one of the major goals of EMS systems, cost minimization in the form of no cost of fuel goes a long way in ensuring that the EMS goals are achieved.
The use of bicycles by the general public will also ensure that in the long run, greenhouse gas emissions to the environment is reduced. Motor vehicles are one of the major polluters o the environment through greenhouse and carbon dioxide gas emissions into the environment. These are the major contributors to global warming which causes imbalance in world temperatures posing great threat to human beings posterity (Lankford, 2009).
Finally, this program ensures that more space is freed up in the environment. Such issues as traffic gridlocks or congestions are greatly reduced by such a program which implicitly coerces individuals to shun motor vehicles and instead use bicycles.
The other project undertaken in the university that has helped it achieve the ISO 14001 certification is the short showers project. This is supported by the student association body in cohorts with the sustainability officer. With the awareness of the impact on the environment associated with water usage (Lull and Banks, 1995), it was noted that efforts aimed at conserving water through avoiding unnecessary wastage goes a long way in environmental management.
Heating water accounts for 25%-30%0f the energy bills by households (Bell et al., 2015). It also responsible for of households carbon footprint (Bell et al., 2015). Greenhouse emissions also emanates from these households activities. Having these facts, its therefore worth appreciating the good water conservation can do in environmental management.
Water usually seems like an abundant resource in this world. However, it isnt always enough in places where it is needed most (Raven, Berg and Johnson, 1993). The cost of transportation and treatment of water is greatly cut when individuals learn how to conserve water (Water conservation, 2009). Energy bills are also reduced when people take shorter time in the showers.
Another project undertaken within the school is the Snap it Off project. Which is a project that aims to cut down electricity wastage which is quite extreme around universities. In this project, students are required to take a snap of places they think are wasting electricity through unnecessary lighting. They then send these snaps to the programs website. A follow up is then conducted for verification and subsequent lobbying with the authorities to correct the mishap.
Other sustainability policies that have been undertaken by the university includes a directive that the school only purchases 100% recycled paper and stationery made from recycled materials. The staff are also directed not to use domestic flights in domestic travel for official duties. This forces them to try alternatives that are less hazardous to the environ...
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