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Chartered Practices get Environmental Management Policy guidance

Chartered practices get Environmental Management Policy guidance

22 February 2017

RIBA EMP guidance cover: Morelands by AHMM, photographer Tim Soar

All RIBA chartered practices are required to have an Environmental Management Policy (EMP) in place, even if it is not written down as formal statement. A new RIBA Chartered Practice Environmental Policy Guide has been launched that provides practices with a framework for developing a policy that is manageable whatever the size of practice.

Developing an EMP into a full Environmental Management System – ISO 14001 certification – is the approach that larger practices might consider, but for small practices a less prescriptive and detailed statement can still set out consistent working practices and, crucially, communicate your policy in bids, in Pre-Qualification Questionnaires and to clients and local authorities.

At the same time, an EMP can be regarded as the first step towards certification. The new RIBA guide is organised to be consistent with 14001 headings, and so would allow for the adoption of an EMP that at some point in the future could be developed for full certification.

Lead author of the guidance, Craig Roberston, Head of Sustainability at AHMM, says an EMP is essentially about establishing your methods of doing things, so the guidance offers a framework for doing this in a way that is consistent and understandable.

EMPs grew out of manufacturing and the manufacturing process. But for designers, their greatest environmental impact is from their designs, not from their workplace practices.

The RIBA EMP guidance offers a two-part template for structuring practice policy, divided between ‘our workplace’ and ‘our designs’.

AHMM has been ISO 14001 accredited since 2009, with certification being achieved on the back of an earlier EMP statement.

‘We started out trying to understand the impact of our own organisation, which is the standard approach, but quickly realised that our main impact is from the buildings we are designing,’ recalls Robertson.

‘We had developed an in-house environmental toolkit and from this we went on to get certified to ISO 14001, with the inclusion of the impact of our design work actually taking us beyond its requirements.’

Robertson says the aim of the RIBA guidance is to put an EMP in place that works for your organisation and that is readily communicable to other people, from senior management to newly joined staff and Part 1 students and, of course, the client side.

The RIBA Chartered Practice Environmental Policy Guide can be downloaded by chartered practice contacts in the member area of or requested by any member of a chartered practice by emailing

Thanks to Craig Roberston, Head of Sustainability at AHMM.

Text by Neal Morris, © RIBA

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