New NAHB Tool Navigates EPA Regs, Saves Time and Money
A new tool to enable home builders to more easily create comprehensive, company-wide environmental policies and programs — and save time and money doing so — will be launched at the NAHB Spring Board of Directors Meeting in Washington, D.C. next week.
The NAHB Environmental Management System (EMS), the first tool of its kind for the home building industry, will help members better comply with Environmental Protection Agency regulations, especially those regarding storm water permits, as well as target issues of importance.
Designed for medium- to large-sized firms, the EMS tool includes a CD and a detailed book of instructions ― including ways to customize the templates so that companies can create their own forms, policies, procedures and more.
The heart 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 151 activities, 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.
Bobby Bowling, of Tropicana Homes in El Paso, Texas, tested the new EMS tool and 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. When Tropicana Homes can demonstrate that it has in place regular training seminars and that it monitors its job sites for potential safety violations, OSHA is less likely to come knocking 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.”
Members attending the spring board meeting will be able get a thorough introduction to the new tool at the Environmental Research and Education Subcommittee meeting on Thursday, May 11, where it will be distributed to committee members and other attendees.
Copies will also be made available to state home builders associations and member companies later this spring.
Is an EPA Pilot Program Using EMS in the Future?
Ultimately, staff and member volunteers hope that the EMS can be used as part of an EPA pilot program, much like the existing OSHA program.
EPA has stated that it 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.
While NAHB advocates are working hard to encourage EPA to see the merits of such a pilot program using the EMS, it is not yet guaranteed.
However, the ability to calculate potential environmental impacts and to immediately determine what to do about them should save NAHB members time and money.
To learn more about ordering the new EMS tool, e-mail Delicia Jenkins at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8163.