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State Innovation Grants

EPA 2005-2006 State Innovation Grants Competition Pre-Proposals

Project Summary Information Page

Project Title: Institutionalizing EMS and environmental leadership program participation through the university system and enhancing the relevance of state leadership program criteria and incentives to a target natural resource sector (e.g. forestry).

Location: Idaho

State Agency Lead Applicant: Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ)

Multi-Agency Team Members: Idaho GEMStars (Helen Rigg, Director), University of Idaho (Dr. Margrit VonBraun, Associate Dean, College of Graduate Studies), Idaho Small Business Development Center – Boise State University (Katie Sewell, Deputy Director), Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (Kirby Farner, Environmental Policy Analyst). Other team members may be added should the proposal be successful.

Project Contact: Helen Rigg, Director; Idaho GEMStars; 720 Park Blvd., Suite 250, Boise, ID 83712; (208)364-9900; (fax: 208-364-4035); hrigg@idahogemstars.org. (Helen Rigg is currently detailed to Idaho GEMStars from IDEQ and will serve as project contact for the lead applicant).

Relationship to Other Federal Programs: The project emphasis is multi-media and thus is not focused on hazardous waste management and permitting under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This project is not being executed in cooperation with or funded by another Federal program. However the project does complement work being done in support of other federal initiatives including National Environmental Performance Track and Pollution Prevention Incentives for States.

Regulatory Flexibility Needed: None identified at this time.

Management Support: The proposal is supported by the IDEQ senior management.

Pre-Proposal Project Narrative


Widespread adoption of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) must occur for the EMS to have a significant role in next generation environmental regulation and the delivery of on-the- ground environmental results. This will be particularly important in states like Idaho, where there are limited resources and staffing for low priority, limited effectiveness approaches. Here it will be important to quickly move EMSs beyond innovation, towards a core way of doing business. To achieve successful systemwide implementation, EMS tools will need to be accessible and relevant to a broad range of entities/sectors statewide, including Idaho’s valuable and challenged natural resource based sectors. To that end, this proposal is focused on moving EMS adoption forward by developing a culture of system-based management. Specific project components include:

  1. Institutionalizing EMS training and information on federal and state environmental leadership programs and their benefits into the statewide university system: The University of Idaho (U of I) is uniquely set up to demonstrate this approach through its acclaimed web-based distance learning curriculum and its existing expertise in integrating related topics, including pollution prevention, sustainable natural resource management, sustainability and green building and design into diverse courses through multiple departments including Environmental Science, Natural Resources, Business and Architecture. U of I has a history of leadership in this area as demonstrated by its role as one of the founding members of Idaho’s environmental leadership program, GEMStars and as a signatory to the Talloires Declaration of worldwide university leaders committed to sustainability. Both U of I and Boise State University have sent representatives to EMS auditor training in anticipation of the important role of the EMS in the future of environmental regulation.
  2. Developing a streamlined application process under Tier II of the Idaho GEMStars program for National Environmental Performance Track facilities: Idaho GEMStars is Idaho’s performance based environmental leadership program introduced by Governor Kempthorne in 1999 and state partner to the National Environmental Performance Track Program (NEPT). This work will complement a recently drafted Tier II enhancement to provide a streamlined track for facilities with qualifying EMSs. This will provide additional state recognition to Idaho NEPT members.
  3. Incorporating environmental performance based criteria, benefits and guidance relevant to Idaho’s natural resource based sectors into the GEMStars program: The likely focus for this effort will be forestry, utilizing the expertise of existing Idaho GEMStars and Idaho National Performance Track members in this sector. A number of Idaho forestry operations have already implemented EMSs and ISO 14001 to deliver system based management that goes well beyond minimum regulatory requirements. The forestry sector is facing market based, fuels management and ecosystem/environmental health challenges. Providing specific attention to this sector will contribute not only to improved environmental management and pollutant reduction but also has the added bonus of potentially providing economic benefits to the forest industry and support to the sustainability of Idaho’s rural forest products communities.

Overall this project is expected to develop and grow a statewide knowledge base and use of EMSs. It is also expected to increase interest and membership in GEMStars and/or NEPT with the associated environmental benefits that extend beyond regulatory compliance and increase attention to preventing environmental problems before they occur, thereby reducing the regulatory burden. Streamlining the GEMStars application process for NEPT members will help provide additional regional attention on these environmental leaders and increase efficiencies and consistency between the two programs. Traditional performance incentives have often been focused on the manufacturing or large industry. The targeted work with the forestry portion of the natural resource sector will identify and move towards implementation of incentives that are more relevant to this sector and enhance national goals to achieve “widespread use of EMSs across a range of organizations and settings”(p. 19).

Project Goals, Key Milestones and Measures

Goal 1: Provide accessible and relevant EMS and environmental leadership program information to a broad range of entities/sectors statewide through the existing university system to change the culture of environmental management and improve environmental performance.

Milestone 1: Form university focus group(s) to determine components of web based EMS/environmental leadership course, identify supplemental delivery options, identify scalable course components for integration in priority existing courses. (Stakeholders: GEMStars, NEPT, faculty representing various departments, students and experienced businesses and industries.

Milestone 2: Provide focus group recommendations.

Milestone 3: Develop and implement web based EMS/leadership program focused course with scalable elements for ease of integration into other existing courses.

Milestone 4: University Summit – Information rollout.

Measures: # of students exposed to new information.

Multi-media environmental results from submittals to GEMStars and NEPT.

Goal 2: Simplify GEMStars application for NEPT members to support consistency, customer efficiency and delivery of state specific benefits.

Milestone 1: Develop simplified GEMStars application form.

Milestone 2: Provide information on form and process to existing Idaho NEPT members.

Measures: # of NEPT members applying to GEMStars

Multi-media environmental results from submittals to GEMStars and NEPT.

Goal 3: Develop environmental performance criteria, benefits and guidance for GEMStars in support of improving natural resource sector environmental performance (e.g. forestry).

Milestone 1: Form focus group including Idaho public and private forestry representatives (and others as needed) with adopted EMSs and/or membership in GEMStars and/or NEPT.

Milestone 2: Hold Forest Industry Peer Mentoring Summit on EMS and GEMStars/NEPT membership.

Milestone 3: Identify priority recommendations of natural resources focus group for early implementation by GEMStars.

Measures: # of forestry sector applications to GEMStars and/or NEPT

Multi-media environmental results from submittals to GEMStars and NEPT.

Actual environmental measurements for the project will utilize existing GEMStars, NEPT, Region 10 “Estimating Results Form for P2 grants” and other appropriate measurements as recommended by the forestry focus group. These measurement tools already compile data relative to environmental outcomes. Cost and risk avoidance will be estimated when practical based on the recommendations of the focus group.

Project Schedule and Timeframe

The project is scheduled over a three-year period to allow time for feedback, adjustments and evaluation of the project and measurement of results. Reporting will be done in conformance with EPA requirements. The majority of work is targeted for completion within about 2 years of project funding.

September 2005 Receive award.

November 2005 Issue Contracts to team members.

December 2005 Form focus group including forestry representatives with adopted EMSs.

January 2006 Form university focus group(s) to determine components of web based EMS/environmental leadership course, identify supplemental delivery options, identify scalable course components and priority existing courses where EMS info could be integrated.

March 2006 Initiate course development.

June 2006 Adopt simplified GEMStars application for Idaho NEPT members.

November 2006 Forest Industry Peer Mentoring Summit

February 2007 Identify priority recommendations of natural resource focus group for early implementation by GEMStars.

Spring Semester 2007 First web EMS class offered.

Fall Semester 2007 Second web EMS class offered.

January 2008 University Summit – Roll out information to other universities.

August 2008 Final Report on results and recommendations to EPA

Program Criteria Requirements

Target Priority Environmental Issues

The project is a multi-media, multi agency, proactive approach to pollution management and environmental protection. Building on the general goals of EPA’s “Innovation Strategy” it utilizes regulatory and non-regulatory tools and partnerships in support of increased responsibility and empowerment for the regulated community and natural resource stewards. The “Innovation Strategy” indicates a need for a “broader set of tools” to address new complex environmental challenges. The EMS is one of these broader tools, as are environmental leadership programs and the related incentives. The strategy also recognizes the importance of providing a framework for innovative approaches to make it a “routine” way of doing business. This proposal embraces this element by utilizing the existing university infrastructure and expertise to deliver EMS training statewide, including distance learning via the web in support of widespread adoption of EMSs and similar systems based approaches that will contribute to a culture where it is a “routine” way of managing a business in Idaho. The second major element in this proposal continues the approach to make innovation “routine” by increasing the use of EMSs by the forestry sector and encouraging their participation in NEPT and Idaho GEMStars environmental leadership programs and the related commitment to a holistic, systems based, proactive approach to managing their forest lands and the impacted watersheds and airsheds. As a multi-media, proactive approach, this project will address the following priority environmental issues that are encouraged through Idaho GEMStars criteria and further supported by the focus project with the forestry sector.

This project is projected to support environmental justice considerations by making EMS tools readily available statewide and targeting a sector (forestry) that impacts economically challenged rural communities, provides for cost effective delivery and sustainable support through existing nfrastructure (universities, GEMStars and NEPT), increases broad use of EMSs statewide, expands participation in both GEMStars and NEPT and applies innovation and empowerment as an alternative or supplement to conventional permitting.

Improvements in Results from Project Implementation

The project differs from the traditional approach of relying on businesses to “seek out” information on EMS as a tool or delivering training sporadically at limited locations or to specific sectors via the regulatory agency or consultants. Instead, the universities offer a sustainable, cost effective alternative to deliver EMS tools statewide across multi disciplines, raising the bar on EMS knowledge and familiarity with the benefits of GEMStars and/or NEPT membership and effectively building a culture of systems management. Additionally, rather than focusing on one of the conventional manufacturing or industrial sectors, the project is targeted at a natural resource base enterprise, forestry, which impacts a tremendous area particularly in the western states and consider leadership guidelines and incentives that are relevant.

The project builds on the experience of the University of Idaho in successfully delivering similar web based information and integrating “next generation” environmental management and sustainability tools into existing curriculum across disciplines. It will utilize the “lessons learned” from the Idaho forestry sector and others that have already adopted EMSs and/or obtained membership in GEMStars and/or NEPT. Quantifiable environmental improvements will be documented in applications to GEMStars and/or NEPT. Estimates will utilize the EPA Region 10 “Estimating Results Form for P2 grants” as a starting point for a consistent method for tracking results with the additional of habitat related components. The forestry focus group will consider ways to better estimate actual environmental improvements during the project. Specific environmental improvements expected include those identified in the previous section. At the conclusion of the project, regulatory program cost savings are expected to result from institutionalizing EMS training in the university system. It is likely that regulated and non-regulated businesses implementing EMSs will realize cost savings in their operations.

Focus groups for each of the project’s major elements will include major stakeholders. All lternatives for meaningful public involvement will be considered. Should there be regulatory or policy changes proposed as a result of the project, both formal public involvement processes and informal public outreach processes will be utilized.

The project design incorporates distance delivery of EMS and environmental leadership program information to reach residents of all communities. GEMStars and U of I will specifically market education opportunities to Idaho communities identified “at risk” through a recent study by the Sonoran Institute in the Inland Northwest. The focus on the forestry sector is expected to reach communities impacted by forestry jobs and management practices.

Measuring Improvement and Accountability

The project will rely on existing measurement tools for GEMStars, NEPT and the Region 10 “Estimating Results Form for P2 grants” mentioned earlier. In addition, it is expected that some specific measurement tools or “calculators” will be identified by the forest industry focus group. The focus is on both environmental outcomes and estimated cost or risk avoidance. University courses incorporating EMS and leadership program information will track the number of participants taking the course. GEMStars will ask program applicants utilizing an EMS how they learned about the tool to try to establish a link between the increased education and the actual implementation of EMSs. Number of entities implementing an EMS and applying to one of the leadership programs will be tracked as well as environmental and cost avoidance outcomes. The forestry sector portion of the project will feed information directly back to the focus group (stakeholders). Specific timing for measurement activities is included in the project schedule with a final report due at project completion. It is expected that measurable results will be realized during the period covered by the project and that results will continue to be documented and measured by the U of I and GEMStars well beyond the period covered by the project since measurement is core to their operations.

Transferring Innovation

Integrating EMS tools into the existing university system is a common sense approach, utilizing existing, trusted, accessible and cost effective and sustainable infrastructure in a new way not only across the state, but nationwide. Development of the web based distance learning course means that students nationwide can take advantage of this information. The efforts of University of Idaho to integrate EMS and environmental leadership information will be shared with other universities in the state and the region at a planned university summit and through the Education for Sustainability – Western Network (EFS West) that both GEMStars and U of I partner with. The information on both the university component and the natural resource targeted incentives and guidelines will be shared through the participation of the GEMStars Director and IDEQ representatives in the Region 10 P2 Coordinators Workgroup (regular meetings and conference calls), the Region 10 Pollution Prevention Resource Center - PPRC (website, newsletter), Multi-States Working Group (MSWG), National Environmental Performance Track (state coordinating group conference calls) and participation by IDEQ senior management in ECOS. It is anticipated that relevant information specific to the forestry component will also be shared through the USFS and U of I’s involvement in forestry related professional associations.

Fostering EMS implementation is a key component of “next generation” environmental protection as is the use of web based information. Using established, trusted learning systems (like universities), is a cost effective, assessable and sustainable solution to transferring next generation environmental protection information directly to the source. In addition, as significant progress in environmental improvement has been realized in the traditionally regulated industrial and business sectors, increased attention is being shifted to nonpoint and area sources of pollution – both regulated and currently unregulated. The development of incentives and tools pecific to a natural resource based industry (e.g. forestry) serves as a model of refining tools to better fit the changing need and empowering new sectors in proactive environmental management.

The major components of this project have the potential to change the culture of how business is currently done. The project team is committed to providing mentoring and consultation to other states interested in similar innovations and welcomes the participation of other state, university or industry representatives in the appropriate focus groups or summits once the process is underway.

Budget Summary:

[Removed by EPA]

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