March 05, 2009

Environmental Management

At first, I am a bit confused about the term of Environmental Management. As the lecture notes on website says "In this section (means Environmental management section) the focus will be on the Resource aspect, related to how buildings, equipment and material are managed."However, the whole topic later on is talking about an organisation to be environmental friendly. So in my opinion, the "Environmental" term here, is talking about natural environment, there is also another meaning we can understand from that is the environment around the organisation, to manage the environment in organisation is like what says above, to manage the assets and make best use of them. So this aspect of meaning can go to Facilities Management category.

Talking about natural environmental issues for an organisation, it has both sides effects. If organisation is using it well, it can generate a chain of benefits, bringing financial gains, product innovation and operational efficiency. But in most of time, implying Environmental Management is a long term investment, because at first it need large amount of capital including finance and human recourse to be invested in for new technology, new process, new production line and new management system etc. however those investment cannot be paid back in short term. Therefore, most of organisations lose interests in the first place as they can't see payback for the investment shortly. In addition, organisational and technology factors are still undercover, waiting to be studied and proven, maybe large investment end up with no coming results. So uncertainty of success is also a problem.

Nevertheless, to be environmental friendly is more and more important nowadays. The energy prices such as oil and gas are keeping increasing, environmental management can help organisation innovate new products and new processes to be cost efficient, e.g. using green energy instead of costly cure oil. On the other hand, the organisation who doing well for environmental management can win consumers' preference, it will have good public image among people, hence easier to get support and market share from public than those organisations who are causing negative effect to the environment. For example, GE once has been caught dumping production waste directly into the river on newspaper, which to some degree has destroyed its public image, hence people would less likely to buy its products. That's the reason Jeff Immelt, the current CEO, keep emphasize on investing in R&D for green tech to enhance its brand image.

To imply the environmental management, only the technology is not enough, it also need a process and good management system, like ISO14001 is a special tool for managing environmental issues for organisation. It needs a policy outlining the commitment to improving its environment performance, follow on the plans and programs. The plans need to be integrated in to day to day bases, not only on paper and also need to take measurement on the implication. It needs the whole organisation's effort through top to bottom, therefore training to make mutual understanding is essential. 

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