Environmental Management Systems

What are they?

An Environmental Management System (EMS) formally defines the procedures and processes for an organisation to follow when setting, managing and implementing environmental objectives. The EMS is developed by the organisation to ensure that their environmental policy is implemented across all areas of the organisation. The EMS sets out the procedures to be followed in order to meet the organisation’s environmental objectives and can be used as a tool to improve environmental performance. For example, the EMS for a portfolio owner will include separate environmental procedures for acquiring, refurbishing and leasing buildings. These procedures are likely to set specific targets relating to energy, water, waste, NABERS, Green Star, etc.

The EMS will also set out how the environmental objectives and / or targets should be monitored, reviewed and  continuously improved.

ISO 14001 is a voluntary international standard for organisations operating an Environmental Management System  (EMS). A certificate is issued when the EMS formally meets the standards of ISO 14001 and thereafter the organisation  is continually audited every six months to ensure it is fully  compliant with the procedures set out in the EMS.

Why are they useful?

An owner or tenant who operates an EMS and / or ISO  14001 certification is likely to have specific environmental  targets or corporate obligations that need to be achieved  as well as being a good indicator of their commitment to  environmental / sustainability related matters. For an owner,  these may include, for example, operating Green Leases, Maintaining a NABERS rating or setting Building Rules with environmental requirements for fit-outs and tenant modifications.

A tenant with an EMS/ISO 14001 accreditation is likely to demand space in a building with high environmental credentials. This could include a NABERS and/or a Green Star rating. The tenant may also be more willing to share data and work with an owner to ensure the building performs well.

Issues to be aware of


Applicable buildings

All building types.

Questions to ask

  • Does the owner or tenant have an EMS accreditation?
  • Are there any specific environmental objectives or targets which will affect a potential tenant or owner?

More information

ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Guide