June 19-20, 2003
Cornell, University, Ithaca, New York
Co-Sponsored by Cornell University
and the Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence
The Advanced EMS Workshop held up to its billing. This was not an introduction to the "basics" of plan, do, check, and act, or another summary of the elements of ISO 14001. More than forty participants from more than 20 colleges and universities gathered to hear about leading edge practices, programs and tools. The opening presentation laid the groundwork for the conference by reflecting on a rather extraordinary decade of change in which the concept of EMS was born, grew into the ISO 14001 framework and now threatens to evolve into a new generation of EMS experiments to address issues of sustainability, public reporting, etc. It is impossible to now imagine a world in which an EMS-approach would not be followed.
The corporate presentations in the morning were all excellent. Vince Giordano of General Electric spoke about initiating and sustaining behavior change in an organization. George Thomas of Kodak spoke about the development of compliance programs that "belong" to the people at the line. Kira Drummond of Pfizer spoke about the development and use of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). All speakers described (and showed) the EMS and web-based tools they use to implement their systems and track performance. Workshop participants came away with a number of overarching lessons and insights: (1) Developing and implementing an EMS can be a daunting task; (2) You have to start somewhere. It was reassuring to learn that leading companies may not get it right the first time. All of the extraordinary programs we reviewed were the result of experimentation, success, failure and hard work. (3) There is definite value in colleges/universities taking a look at mature, or "best in class" corporate programs in order to better understand how to achieve EH&S goals within a college or university setting.
In the afternoon, James Curtis of MIT described the new MIT EHS Management System. The presentation focused on the organizational, personnel and oversight changes that are occurring within the MIT culture. These organizational changes were instituted to provide institute-wide accountability and verifiable compliance, promote best practices and enhance communication. The description of strategic considerations and specific actions taken by MIT led to a great exchange of questions and ideas.
We thank all the participants for an informative and productive workshop. We encourage readers to review the presentations on the web site. Questions, comments or feedback are welcome.
Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence