Agenda item

Environmental Management System Update

To provide an update on the ISO 14001 accreditation


Report to follow


Cllr Anderson said that he would like to confirm – Nigel Howcutt is the Assistant Director for Finance and Resources, not our Environmental Sustainability Officer but he will be presenting the item.

N. Howcutt introduced the report to members, and confirmed he would send the slides to S. Burr to distribute. He also confirmed that at present he is acting and the Environmental Sustainability Officer as well as his Assistant Director role. Nigel explained that he would be going through a review of what the Environmental Management System is, and how it is audited.

N Howcutt said that he would go through what the Environmental Management System is, what ISO 14001, some feedback on the audits that took place in 2018 and what we are looking to achieve over the next three years in accreditation with ISO 14001 then the final point will be an open discussion regarding the future.

AP – N Howcutt, S Burr.

N Howcutt explained that ISO 14001 is an international standard which organisations can sign up to if they choose to and it allows external viewpoints on whether your controls and mitigations are what they consider up to standard. It is not a statutory requirement and Dacorum are one of the smallest Local Authorities signed up to this. Because you are publicly setting some objectives you put yourself forward to say that you can and will achieve those objectives.

There was a discussion regarding Access to Documents which is the one field that we received a non-compliance notice.  The documents were there but they were not as easy to access as first thought, so a new system is being implemented so that whether you are in the Forum or not you can get in touch with these folders to get access to that information.

Cllr Birnie asked if it was just staff access or the public and N Howcutt confirmed it was only staff access.

Cllr Timmis asked why a mobile phone could not be used and N Howcutt explained that a mobile cannot access our local drives.

Cllr Anderson confirmed that this was all to do with accreditation for Security of Information.


There was a discussion as to whether there was a liaison with planning when they construct new dwellings and if they are contributing to what was trying to be achieved.

N Howcutt explained that there were 2 aspects to that and that they liaise with planning on the operational sides, so the cemeteries, the playgrounds, Cupid and The Forum. The Energy Efficiency Team which sits in housing liaises with planning on all new housing developments from a DBC perspective.  Equally planners will liaise with external developers.

It was then asked whether there was any ability to enforce regarding types of construction etc.,

N Howcutt replied that would be something J Doe could answer.

Cllr Hearn said that he could not see any reference to Commercial Waste on the slide and N Howcutt explained that it is outside Environmental Management Service.

Cllr Anderson said that it was a separate issue which would be raised in the future, that isn’t part of the Council’s operational footprint which is what we are looking at tonight.

N Howcutt went on to say that we are ahead of the game in single use plastics. In terms of lighting improvements, we have LED lighting in most of our Civic Centres now, Tring still has some that needs to be done.  All lights are replaced with LED in Dacorum.

On finishing the presentation, N Howcutt asked for any questions.

Cllr Matthews asked whether Environmental Management covers Council owned buildings such as council flats and houses.

N Howcutt replied that in terms of the Environmental Management Service, it does not. Housing do look at energy efficiency when we are building new stock ourselves. It has to reach and A or a B on the EPC rating. When maintenance is done on older stock we look to improve the energy efficiency and if this is not possible we will try and offload them.

Cllr Matthews asked that if Environmental Management was imbedded in the Council’s operation could it be that Housing would be looking at things like water efficiency as well as energy efficiency and monitoring recycling etc more closely.

N Howcutt replied that there were different aspects to that – recycling we look at as the whole borough and that comes under the Waste and Recycling mantra where we are looking to achieve improvements year on year.  From the housing perspective they may do more on the Environmental Management Services than he is aware of as it does not fall under this mantra. There are certain green standards that they have to achieve with new builds.

Cllr Timmis asked about the existing stock of council houses and whether there could be incentives to reduce water consumption.

Cllr Anderson explained that following a legal case brought by a tenant against a housing authority regarding them paying the water bill for them, all tenants now have to pay their own water bills directly, so they will be subject to the Water Company’s efforts to improve consumption in the same way that home owners are. All new properties now being built have a water meter.


Cllr Birnie said that he is now convinced there is a cost benefit to Environmental Management.

N Howcutt reiterated that the costs now are very minimal.

Cllr Marshall reminded the Committee that it was important to remember that the EMS system and the certification relates to the buildings that are under DBC’s control, so you cannot expect it to extend to council housing because that is occupied by individuals who are independent of the council.   We can urge people to reduce their water and energy but they are not under our control. She said that a lot of the progress made was due to the persistence and dedication shown by the Sustainability Officers.

Cllr Anderson asked whether there was an opportunity, resource permitting to imbed some of this in the Estates Department where in relation to buildings we own that aren’t operational and aren’t housing.

N Howcutt replied that a lot of the utility side of this depends on who is paying the bill.  He said that where we are paying the bill it was possible to go on line and see the current water electricity or gas usage of any of our operational buildings. When it is a commercial asset and we only charge rent we don’t pay the bills and so wouldn’t have access to those utilities. He added that there are other operational assets that have been looked at bringing in to the EMS, so Kylna Court will have some small commercial space that may come online in the management system and also The Maylands, the incubation pods may become part of the EMS system as well.

Cllr Hearn said that he felt it was really important that the planning department looked at energy saving when thousands of houses are going to be built in Dacorum over the next few years. 

Cllr Anderson said that it would certainly be something to be discussed at another meeting.

Cllr Birnie asked if letting part of The Forum to CCG would have an effect on the environmental management of the building.

N Howcutt replied that there contract means they will be treating the building in the same way as the present occupants, it is in their terms and conditions that they will use the same facilities he said that per capita it would make the building even more efficient because it will not need more heat or use significantly more energy and the bathrooms are run from rainwater so it will become more energy efficient per person.