Environmental Management System

UBC’s environmental concerns are addressed through the University’s Environmental Management System (EMS) which is a methodology that through the allocation of resources, assignment of responsibility, and ongoing evaluation of practices, procedures, and processes looks to serve as a tool to continuously improve environmental performance across the University.

Environmental Aspects

What are the Environmental Aspects?

Through EMS, the severity, magnitude, frequency, and duration of each actual or potential impact on the environment are evaluated. The potential for regulatory exposure, the concerns of interested parties and the public, and the ease of changing the environmental aspect, or its impact, are also assessed. All of these factors are used to determine which of the University’s operations and activities have the highest risk for adverse environmental effects; these operations and activities that pose the most substantial negative effects are referred to as UBC’s significant environmental aspects and include:

  • Accidental spills or releases of hazardous materials
  • Contaminant air emissions
  • Greenhouse gas generation
  • Hazardous waste generation
  • Non-compliant discharges to sanitary sewers
  • Non-compliant discharges to storm sewers
  • Operation and maintenance of hazardous materials / fuel storage tanks
  • Operation and maintenance of equipment containing PCBs
  • Operation and maintenance of refrigeration units containing Ozone Depleting Substances and other halocarbons
  • Pest control and pesticide application

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What procedures are used to manage the Environmental Aspects?

Clearly defined procedures are critical to managing significant environmental aspects. Outlined through the EMS are:

  • Objectives and targets – to achieve the university’s environmental commitments as stated in the Environmental Policy
  • Roles and responsibilities for staff, faculty, and students working and learning in laboratories where significant environmental aspects are present
  • Competence, training, and awareness to ensure individuals are aware of their responsibilities and emergency procedures and are competent to perform their job in a way that minimizes environmental impacts
  • Communication to enhance internal awareness and provide a process by which environmental inquiries or complaints are handled
  • Documentation, document control, and record retention
  • Operation controls associated with significant environmental aspects
  • Emergency preparedness and response
  • Monitoring and measurement to ensure EMS objectives and targets are being achieved and the significant environmental aspects are being controlled
  • Checking and corrective action to eliminate non-compliances and non-conformances, along with any adverse environmental impacts that may be caused by them, and the prevention of reoccurrence
  • Legal and other requirements

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What compliance audits are used to manage the Environmental Aspects?

Compliance audits play an important role in ensuring that the University meets its environmental commitments. Audits aim to:

  • Compel and confirm compliance with the environmental auditing requirements of UBC Policy #6 (PDF);
  • Evaluate which UBC research and operations management practices are compliant with relevant regulatory and code requirements;
  • Assess current programs and practices for management of operations with potential negative environmental impact. These include their compliance with the basic elements of UBC’s EMS (responsibilities, training, communication, documentation, operation control, emergency preparedness and response, monitoring and measurements).

As part of UBC’s EMS, RMS has conducted a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Audit of the Vancouver campus in 2012, the UBC Okanagan campus in 2011 and UBC off-campus facilities in 2015. The audits addressed environmental compliance aspects such as:

  • hazardous materials storage tanks
  • hazardous waste
  • ozone depleting substances and other halocarbon
  • poly-chlorinated biphenyl (PCB) containing equipment
  • composting
  • discharges to sanitary and storm systems
  • pesticides and pest control
  • air emissions
  • contaminated sites management
  • spill reporting

Key findings aid RMS in establishing protocols and mitigating environmental risk through the UBC’s EMS.

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Environmental Management Training

What Environmental Management training is available?

RMS Environmental Services has developed online Environmental Management training modules about environmental risk mitigation in various UBC departments and operations areas. The training was specifically created for responsible persons in each area and is job specific. It may be delivered in class or through online modules.
The Environmental Management Training can be found in Courses and Training

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Environmental Advisory Committee

Who guides the Environmental Management System?

The EMS is guided by the Environmental Management System Advisory Committee:

  • Associate VP Campus & Community Planning
  • Chief Risk Officer
  • Associate VP Administration & Finance (Okanagan)
  • Managing Director, Energy & Water Services
  • Managing Director, Building Operations
  • Managing Director, Infrastructure Development
  • Director, Campus Operation and RMS (Okanagan)
  • Director, Research Services
  • Managing Director, Student Housing & Hospitality Services
  • Director, Environmental Services

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