Money-Saving Tool From NAHB Navigates EPA Regs
A new tool to enable home builders to more easily create comprehensive, company-wide environmental policies and programs — and save time and money in the process — can now be purchased on the NAHB Web site.
Shallow wetlands. Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
The NAHB Environmental Management System (EMS), the first tool of its kind for the home building industry, helps members better comply with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency regulations, especially those on storm water permits, as well as target issues of importance.
Designed for medium and large firms, the $25 EMS tool provides a CD and a detailed book of instructions ― including templates that companies can customize to create their own forms, policies, procedures and more.
At the core of the EMS tool is the “Significant Aspect/Impact Register,” a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows home builders to prioritize potential environmental issues they may have to address — ranked by impact or importance as they relate to the environment, regulatory compliance and costs.
How to Use EMS
With the EMS tool, companies choose:
- Activities — from a list of more than 150, such as vehicle operation, site development or painting
- An aspect — such as spills, storm water runoff or recycling
- The impact — such as soil pollution, landfill space depletion or surface or groundwater pollution
Once the information is entered and the choices selected, the tool compiles and ranks the issues according to the parameters set by the builder. Home builders can use the completed document to quickly determine what kinds of policies, procedures or training programs they may need to meet regulatory requirements and enhance environmental protection.
To use the EMS program, members can copy the CD into their own computers. They can also take advantage of two enclosed slide show presentations for training their office and construction personnel.
After testing the new EMS tool, Bobby Bowling, of Tropicana Homes in El Paso, Texas, said it was valuable to his business and easy to use.
Bowling compared the EMS tool and the reports it generates to the program that his company has used successfully to comply with Occupational Safety and Heath Administration (OSHA) regulations. By demonstrating that it has in place regular training seminars and that it monitors its job sites for potential safety violations, Tropicana Homes is less likely to find OSHA knocking at its door with inspection papers.
“It’s a much more reasonable way of doing things,” Bowling said.
Dave Yorgason, of Capital Development in Boise, Idaho, said the new EMS “can be a nice tool. It’s flexible, so you can tailor it to the needs of specific projects.”
However, he added that small builders may find the tool a little overwhelming. “It takes some work to understand it because of all the environmental lingo. You have to understand the terminology.”
NAHB Environmental Issues committee members previewed the EMS at the Spring Board meeting in Washington.
NAHB is planning for a seminar this fall to introduce the new tool and will follow up with a class at the International Builders’ Show. Interest in the EMS has been strong, and more than 230 copies have already been distributed. Additional information will be available soon.
EPA is looking for companies to use a standardized management system to adopt policies and programs that integrate environmental responsibilities into their business practices. The new EMS tool fits the bill, said Kimberly Wagoner, an environmental policy analyst specializing in storm water issues for NAHB. The ability to calculate potential environmental impacts and to immediately determine what to do about them should save NAHB members time and money.
For more information, e-mail Calil Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.