2009 EMS Awards Winners

The EMS Association announced the winners of the 2009 Environmental Management Systems awards at the national EMS conference held in Bubury, WA.

The Awards, sponsored for small business and farm categories by CGU, and by drumMuster for the government category, recognise the efforts made by users of EMS in a range of applications.

“The Awards seek to highlight the achievements of EMS users, and demonstrate that both environmental management and profits can co-exist in the one approach,” said Mick Dawes, EMS Association Vice-President.

“Being able to expand the Awards this year with the support of drumMuster to establish a third category of Award - for governments – allows us to add yet another dimension to sharing EMS experience.”

The paths taken to develop their EMSs differ, but all award winners and runners-up had focused on delivering environmental outcomes through a strategic and planned EMS approach, using a range of innovative methods to achieve their aims. All demonstrated a strong focus on community input and collaboration.

Congratulations on their achievements.

Small Business Awards (sponsored by CGU)

Winner: Jean Cannon, Enviro Action

Jean Cannon has undertaken to truly practice what she preaches in her own consultancy business. Her Awards application described her personal journey through her EMS development, outlining the practical and effective measures she has taken right across her business operations to reduce her impact on the environment. Award judges were particularly impressed by Jean’s use of technology to assist with the provision of EMS consulting services to geographically diverse clients in a way that minimise travel and the associated carbon footprint. Jean has built an international portfolio of clients, and utlised the same processes she uses with clients to develop her own EMS. By changing most office operations to on-line approaches, Jean estimates she has reduce her overall power consumption by 20%, and has cut her travel from almost weekly flight to only about 6 flights per year.

Jean recommends doing a very thorough initial review when developing any EMS, to capture the full range of aspects and impacts to be addressed.  Keeping things simple, and embedding the EMS fully into routine business management are other critical success factors.

Runner-up: Tom Forbes, Roma Crane Hire and Heavy Haulage Pty. Ltd

Tom Forbes began developing the EMS at Roma Crane Hire and Heavy Haulage in April 2009, with full implementation occurring in September of that year.  The EMS was developed as part of an integrated management approach, incorporating quality assurance, occupational health and safety, and safe operational procedures for a range of equipment.

While the full range of environmental issues is considered in the EMS, the main areas focused on are air quality, biodiversity (in particular weed control), emissions and water.  The impacts staff can have on these areas has been a key concern when developing the EMS, and the effort put into training of staff to minimise impacts reflects this area. Community consultation has also been a feature of Tom’s EMS. The commitment of the management team, and the underpinning of strong guiding principles are areas Tom believe are crucial for the success of an EMS. Values of professionalism, responsiveness, organisation, unity and dedication are fundamental in the support of both the business and the management approach.

Farm Award (sponsored by CGU)

Winner: Sue Holt, Burn Brae and Poonawatta

Sue Holt and her family grow Shiraz wine grapes and run both sheep and cattle on their farm. A strong sense of place was expressed in Sue’s award application, with the farm being in the family since the 1860’s. Sue has been involved in Landcare for some time, and in 2003 joined an Australian Land Management Group EMS program. As a pilot group, the landholders identified key environmental issues, and utilised the myEMS computer program to develop EMSs suited to their own situations. In Sue’s case, issues addressed within the EMS included chemical management, biodiversity (using shelter belts and habitat areas), riparian and waterway management, water quality, salinity and energy use. Sue has observed that an EMS promotes linkages, and promotes a ‘triple bottom line effect”, where a range of impacts and outcomes are inter-related. The wide-reaching outcomes of the EMS “gives the whole family confidence in the profession of primary production” and provides “the satisfaction of being able to look after the natural world and other species sharing our environment”.

Sue addresses local catchment issues within her EMS, and regularly engages in community consolation through Landcare, catchment and natural resource centre activities. She sees these events as good opportunities to exchange information and gain new ideas.

Sue says maintaining the ethos of an EMS is easy. She sees continual monitoring and recording of progress as the most important features of maintaining an EMS, along with an awareness of how the natural world works, so as to “partner with nature rather than warring against it”.

Runner-up: Fiona and Ben Watts, BRALCA Merinos

Fiona and Ben Watts have fine wool merino sheep on two properties in NSW.  Fiona had previously worked for a larger business that had implemented an EMS, and so recognised the usefulness of this approach for her own business. The EMS revolves around a detailed business and farm plan, with a particular focus on aligning with industry best management practices. Key indicators are developed for a range of environmental issues, and success of management is judged against these. Fiona and Ben have worked with the Central Western CMA to protect significant areas of white box, red box, blakelys and red gum vegetation of their property, and are now also preserving various riparian areas on their properties. An interesting feature of the site is the cultural significance for both Aboriginal and European cultures. Heritage areas have been preserved within the protection vegetation areas described above.

Fiona and Ben described in their application how they are working with their supply chain through to Italian mills to promote their use of non-muelsed wool, and their plans to extend the communication lines to fashion designers and end users of the textiles. The appreciation of credible, sustainable production practices means that such communication works well for selling their wool.

Challenges for the future include keeping abreast of all the information that is available, and working towards certification of the EMS.

Highly Commended: David Clark

Local Government Award (sponsored by drumMuster)

Winner: Wembley Gold Complex, City of Cambridge

Darren Wilson says that one of the reasons the Wembley Golf Complex started down the EMS path is that golf courses are often viewed as high water, pesticide and fertiliser users, and impact heavily on the local area. He believes that using an EMS based on ISO 14001 helps to dispel this viewpoint, and demonstrates that the course is actually employing industry best practices. The Cambridge Council endorsed the EMS in November 2004.

The Wembley Golf Complex is only 6 km for the CBD of Cambridge, and has one of the densest populations of Tuart and grass trees in the area. Irrigation and nutrient management are critical areas dealt with in the EMS in order to protect these native species.  The irrigation system for the golf course was upgraded four years ago, at a cost of $2.8 million, with the upgrade significantly improving native vegetation management, while also delivering savings in water and chemical use.

Other issues addressed within the EMS are chemical use and storage, the construction and use of new wash-down bays to prevent leaching, the establishment of buffer zones for visual amenity and vegetation protection, improved fuel storage, staff and contractor training and communication.

Darren and his team used the ePar EMS approach, and have moved to formalise previously ad hoc emergency management responses as part of their EMS. Planning includes dealing with potential emergencies in the areas of spills, irrigation equipment malfunction, vandalism and storm events, amongst other issues.  Emergency responses are practices, with drills conducted annually.

Monitoring and measuring progress is a critical part of the EMS at Wembley. Lysimeters are used to monitor water quality quarterly, assessing leachate beyond the grass root zones. The golf course also reports to the WA Water Corporation annually, detailing water use and the outcomes of the Nutrient Management Plan.

Darren noted that using an EMS process is a good way to highlight how little it can take for an environmental incident or accident to occur. By being prepared, and being aware, actions can be taken to rectify issues that otherwise could become major problems. Wembley reports its performance through their website www.cambridge.wa.gov.au/copy_of_news/cambrigenews and also makes this information available on their intranet.

A particular feature of the EMS which impressed the judges was the commitment demonstrated to green procurement practices, with preference given to socially and environmentally friendly goods, even if these cost more.

Overall, Darren describes the outcome of the EMS as being that the Wembley Golf Complex is “an industry leader in its field with environmental management and is the only environmentally endorsed gold course in Australia”. This certainly sets the challenge for other golf complexes in the future!

Runner-up: Resort Section, NPWS of DECCW

The Perisher Range Resort EMS (PRREMS) development, which started in 2002, has seen the involvement of a wide group of participants, including the Perisher Chamber of Commerce, Country Energy, Elgas, the Perisher ski lodges, a variety of government agencies and the Nature Conservation Council. Virginia Logan attended the EMS Conference in Bunbury and accepted the Award on behalf of the diverse team.

The PRREMS seeks to bring the stakeholders together to develop targets and actions that meet the needs of all. Virginia likens the Perisher Range Resort to a small town, noting that during the ski season there are motels and lodges, shops, restaurants, food outlets, emergency services a medical centre and a post office all operating in the area.

Key environmental issues addressed under the EMS include flora and fauna management (including feral animal control), soil and water management, air quality, natural resource use, cultural heritage and visual amenity and sustainable tourism practices. The vision for the EMS is that it will be “widely recognised for exemplary environmental management of the area’s natural, cultural, aesthetic and social values in the national park setting, and for sustainable, recreation-related development that respect conserves, enhances and restores those values”.

Training and education are priority areas for the PRREMS, and a range of techniques are used to communicate with and educate all stakeholders. For example, there is a network of Lodge EMS officers who use newsletters, e-mail and lodge notice boards to communicate EMS issues. Posters are used to inform resorts visitors of the key core values of the resorts.

An innovative feature of the PRREMS is the use of an Earthcheck system – a data interface that allows lodges to submit targets reports on-line on an annual basis, to evaluate progress against EMS targets. Feedback is used to improve the systems overall, and provides useful information for the continual improvement of environmental performance and of the EMS.

Perisher Range Resort EMS information can be accessed at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/PRREMS/

with the EMS manual at: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/prrems/20080543lodgemanual.htm