The National Academies

NCHRP 25-25/Task 111 [Active]

Environmental Management System Perspectives For State DOTs
[ NCHRP 25-25 (Research for the AASHTO Standing Committee on the Environment) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $110,000
Staff Responsibility: Ann M. Hartell
Research Agency: Louis Berger U.S., Inc.
Principal Investigator: Gary McVoy
Effective Date: 1/1/2018
Completion Date: 12/31/2018

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a set of processes and practices for managing an organization’s environmental programs in a manner that systematically reduces an agency’s environmental impacts and improves efficiency. EMS’s seek to reduce usage of resources such as water, energy and materials along with reducing wastes, pollution and violations. EMS’s are being applied at transportation agencies across the country to help manage and optimize environmental services provided. The overarching industry benchmark for EMS implementation is the ISO 14001 standard which changed in 2015 (from 2004) with additional emphasis points such as increased sustainable resource use and a requirement to evaluate risks and opportunities. Likewise the most complete guide to-date for state transportation agencies is the AASHTO Practitioner’s Handbook in 2007 entitled Developing And Implementing An EMS In A State DOT. However, there are few comprehensive reviews/studies that documented on the actual experiences/benefits/knowledge gained from those transportation agencies that implemented an EMS.
To bridge this gap, this research will review state DOT EMS program documents (including summary reports on targets/goals) and supplement that data with interviews of state DOT EMS leaders. 
Research Objective:
The objective of this research is to provide practical examples of how transportation agencies created and are currently using Environmental Management Systems (EMS) to address their operational issues and goals (e.g. improved efficiencies and environmental performance) in the context of an ISO compliant system (not necessarily certified to ISO standards). The research will provide valuable information on tools and tips to streamline maintenance, construction, and/or operational processes to help both those states with an EMS or those still considering an EMS.
Task 1: Summarize the rationale/decision framework that state DOTs used to create their initial EMS and evolve/expand their EMS through time (i.e. describe the decisions that lead to creating EMS components that are agency/system wide, separate program areas or specific sites/projects).
Task 2: Summarize the state DOT EMS designs (differences and similarities) for the following three operation categories: equipment maintenance facilities, new roadway construction or existing roadway maintenance activities.
Task 3: Summarize how existing state DOT EMS’s determine the systems used to consolidate data and prioritize environmental strategies/solutions (i.e. risk-based, return on investment time frame based, etc). 
Task 4: Summarize the environmental aspects/target improvement projects that were selected along with the associated strategies/solutions implemented and their goal/objective successfulness.
Task 5: Provide best practices and lessons learned to assist other agencies.
Task 6: Provide a cost-benefit analysis of EMS implementation including costs to create and implement. 
Task 7: Summarize how organizations are using the EMS as a surrogate or a foundation for other agency programs such as security, asset management, and operational risk reduction.
Task 8: Produce a report and host webinar to include recommendations on appropriate creation and implementation of an EMS for a state DOT.

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