The cost of an environmental management system is a drop in the bucket compared to cost savings and increased business opportunities.
To many, environmental compliance can be tricky due to having overlapping permits and approvals often on the local, state, and federal levels. Not only that, but many organizations are looking to cut energy costs, reduce their environmental impact, save money, and take on a more pro-environmental appearance to shareholders, employees, clients, and customers alike.
I've seen it a thousand times at countless organizations and facilities. Too many permits, not enough organization, regulatory fines occurring regularly, and management's disapproval of performance and personnel. We've all heard of an EMS, right? If you're not sure, then check out what is an EMS?
So it's a simple enough solution, but whenever I recommend taking this path, inevitably someone ends up asking
"How much does an environmental management system cost? What's the average price?"
It's one of the better (and more complicated) questions I normally get asked. Since it's a brand new concept to many, and you can't just buy it off-the-shelf, many people and organizations are hesitant to spend an untold amount of money on an unknown product. I get it, but let's dive into the costs and pricing associated with an EMS to learn more.
How much does an environmental management system cost?
In a nutshell, the price of an environmental management system depends.
Consider this: The idea of a good, well-implemented system is to keep your environmental program running smoothly and seamlessly. Long story short, being in complete environmental compliance usually means you'll be receiving less violations or fines from regulators because you're adhering to the terms and conditions of your permit.
So immediately, if your EMS is working as it should, theoretically it will save you money from regulatory issues.
Additionally, you may be able to find savings by using an EMS. Things such as energy savings, reduced operating costs, and reduced waste disposal costs, can be very real, very trackable, and very lucrative savings.
Ok, so the program is going to save you money. Every well-maintained, well-run system we've seen is normally saving an organization money. I'd be hard-pressed to say I've seen a system cost a company more than it was spending before, but that's just my experience.
What's the average price of an environmental management system?
So let's face facts. You probably don't have an unlimited budget, and you need to justify your expenses. Does it make sense for you? Will I benefit from it? Or, will it be just money poured down the drain?
Let's use this analogy: you need to "buy a car". What's it going to cost?
We can go down to the local used car lot on the corner, buy the cheapest junker they've got, and drive it off the lot for a couple of hundred dollars. You bought a car!
Or, you can go visit a BMW dealer and buy the brand new, top of the line model for over a hundred thousand dollars. You bought another car!
In a lot of ways, it's the same thing with an EMS. What are you looking for? Do you want the cream of the crop so everyone turns their heads and notices you, or are you happy with something that just works for you.
For instance, you can get your hands on guidelines off the internet, sit down, and develop a simple, rudimentary plan for your own facility. It's probably not going to meet any certification standards, but it'll work for what you need (hopefully). Consider this the junker option.
Conversely, you can get an ISO 14001 EMS. You might be responsible for a large number of facilities, and you want everyone to take notice of your actions and commitment to the environment through your program. You're going to need to hire an expert, 3rd party auditors, etc. Consider this the BMW option.
So… what's the cost of an environmental management system?!
It depends entirely on you. Whether you pay a little or a lot, make sure the end justifies the means.
What do you expect to get out of it? What are your goals and objectives?
If you just want to get your feet wet, then it likely won't cost you much. Go with the junker and try it on for size for a while.
If you've been mandated to get your plants ISO 14001 certified in order to meet some possible vendor or job requirement, then you can bet you're going to be paying a lot.
But let's put a dollar figure on it.
I'm tempted to say zero on the absolute low end, thinking of a small, single facility with modest needs (as in no certification) who just wants to get into the game, and is willing to do everything themselves. While I think zero is unlikely, let's say this will be in the ballpark of a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. However, you're really not getting much for your investment, but at least you've got something.
On the other end of the spectrum, a large, complex facility with numerous processes ongoing and large and varied environmental impacts occurring, who will ultimately seek ISO 14001 certification (the highest level certification around in my opinion), then you'll likely be spending well over $100,000 in consultant costs, registrar costs to audit the facility, etc.
You're probably saying right now, I'm not the tiny shop with no clue, but I'm also not the behemoth industrial plant, I'm just a normal sized business. For you, I'd say an average price for an environmental management system would be somewhere between $5,000 and $75,000, depending on what you're looking for.
There are ways you can cut these costs. Try and do it yourself. Shop around for the lowest-priced consultants to help you, print double-sided! But you'll get what you pay for, and very likely, you'll lengthen that payback period. This is one time, you just might be out of your league, and it pays to hire competent, experienced professionals.
I'd urge you not to focus on the costs, but rather on the benefits. With enough benefit, returned quickly, whatever the costs of your EMS will seem like chump change. To learn more click here to contact us or call us at 609-693-8301 to discuss your EMS needs today.