Brussels, 20 November 2008
The European Commission will tonight present awards to EU companies and public authorities for outstanding achievements in environmental management. The annual European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) Awards celebrate and promote best practice in managing the environment. More than 6,200 sites are now registered under the scheme. This year, thirty-two organisations from 13 EU Member States have been nominated for awards. The nominees include a church, a hospital and a university. Prizes are given in five categories. The award ceremony will take place at the Hotel Plaza in Brussels.
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "I congratulate all the companies and institutions that have been nominated for these prestigious awards. These organisations have shown their commitment to protecting the environment. Joining the EMAS scheme is a win-win situation for the environment and for the organisations involved: by limiting the environmental impacts of their daily work, they not only reduce emissions and waste, but also save energy, and therefore money."
EMAS is a management tool for companies and organisations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. The scheme, which is voluntary, is designed to recognise and reward proactive organisations that go beyond the requirements of environmental laws by constantly improving the way they interact with the environment.
The scheme came into force in 1995. At first it was limited to companies in the industrial sector but the scheme's scope was widened in 2001 to include public and private service providers, as well as public sector organisations. Today, around 4,200 organisations, covering more than 6,200 sites, have registered for the scheme.
The EMAS Awards
Each year the annual EMAS awards focus on a different theme related to eco-management. This year's theme is curbing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing energy consumption and increasing efficiency through actions such as a change in production systems and processes, use of renewable technology or improving energy efficiency. Prizes are given in five categories:
Nominees have been selected at national level to represent their country. Each Member State can nominate only one organisation per category. The winners are selected by a panel of 6 EMAS experts.
The thirty-two organisations and public authorities that have been nominated come from the following EU Member States: Austria (2), Belgium (2), Denmark (3), Germany (5), Hungary (4), Ireland (1), Italy (4), The Netherlands (1), Norway (2), Poland (1), Spain (2), Sweden (2), UK (3).
One of the nominated organisations is the Evangelische Kirchengemeinde church in Kreuzäcker, Germany – one of the first church parishes in the EU to become EMAS-registered. The church has reduced carbon emissions by 74% since it joined the scheme, thanks to a switch from oil to wood pellet heating and the installation of photovoltaic technology on the roof.
The Hospital Universitario "Virgen de la Nieves" in Granada, one of the biggest hospitals in Spain, has seen major environmental benefits, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, from using a co-generation power station. This means power and heat can be generated simultaneously. The system enables recovered heat which would otherwise be wasted, to be used for hospital services.
Gothenburg University is nominated in the public administration category. The university, which has around 50,000 students and 5,000 employees, regularly keeps track of the energy consumption of all the institution's activities and has seen a 16% cut in electricity consumption since 2002.
For the full list of nominees, visit:
EMAS in the European Commission
The European Commission is leading by example and today, EMAS is applied in
one quarter of the Commission's buildings in Brussels. EMAS has proven to be the
most appropriate instrument to manage and improve environmental performance. The
scheme will be extended to all Commission departments in Brussels and Luxembourg
starting in 2009.
 Regulation (EC) No 761/2001