What is an Exemplary Environmental Enterprise?
Under the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program, an "Exemplary Environmental Enterprise" or E3 is a facility with a fully implemented environmental management system and pollution prevention program as well as demonstrated performance.
What are the benefits of being an Exemplary Environmental Enterprise?
Facilities achieving Exemplary Environmental Enterprise or E3 status are eligible for all of the benefits of the Environmental Enterprise or E2 level, including positive public recognition and possible reductions in annual permit fees. In addition, on a case-by-case basis, DEQ will consider providing flexibility with environmental compliance requirements to the extent consistent with any discretion available to DEQ under applicable law, such as:
- Environmental reporting and monitoring;
- Frequency of environmental compliance inspections;
- Permit review period; and
- Consideration of E3 status as a potentially mitigating factor in the calculation of enforcement penalties.
What must a facility provide to DEQ to achieve Exemplary Environmental Enterprise status?
Participation in VEEP is on a facility by facility basis. The development and implementation of effective EMS is the primary goal of VEEP. DEQ does not prescribe the model or type of EMS or the structure of a facility’s environmental programs. However, DEQ is responsible for verifying that each facility accepted into VEEP meets the program criteria. To be considered for inclusion at the E3 level, a facility must submit an application with the following information for each of its facilities under consideration:
- A copy of the facility’s policy statement outlining its commitment to improving environmental quality, stressing compliance with environmental requirements, pollution prevention, training, communication and continuous improvement.
- An evaluation of the actual or potential environmental impacts and aspects from current or future activities at the facility, including a comprehensive list of impacts and aspects, an explanation of the process used by the facility to determine its significant impacts and aspects, a summary of the most recent impact and aspect review process, and the facility’s schedule for reviewing and reevaluating its impacts.
- Objectives and targets for addressing significant environmental impacts, including the facility’s goals (or objectives) for addressing its significant impacts and aspects and the projects or tasks that are planned to address each of the significant impacts and aspects (with an implementation schedule).
- Description of the facility's pollution prevention program, including a comprehensive list of p2 projects and accomplishments, not limited to those which address its significant impacts and aspects and any environmental results and costs savings achieved from past projects if available.
- Identification of the facility's environmental legal requirements and a mechanism for tracking changes in environmental compliance requirements, including a system for learning about legal requirements and changes in regulations.
- Description of how the facility defines, documents and maintains roles, responsibilities and authorities for its environmental management system, including assignments for projects, tasks or reporting responsibilities and upper management involvement or review.
- Procedures for reporting and record keeping to document the status of EMS operations and activities, including a system for attractive tracking of the EMS.
- Procedures for ensuring that all employees have the necessary training, including a systematic approach ensuring all employees have role in the EMS.
- Emergency response procedures for responding to, reporting, mitigating and reviewing incidents, including emergency management program coordinated with local emergency response efforts.
- Monitoring, investigative and corrective actions for noncompliance with environmental management system.
- Voluntary self assessments (external or internal auditing system), which may include regular self-assessments, corrective action plans or third party audits.
- Procedures to communicate with and inform external and internal audiences.
- Commitment to environmental measure reporting: E3 facilities are required to commit to report on at least two of the VEEP environmental measures in their annual reports, which are due by April 1st each year for the previous calendar year. Facilities can report on a specific project that falls within one of the categories (i.e., switching to a non-hazardous parts washer to reduce hazardous waste generation) or their results for reducing the entire waste stream (i.e., energy use for the entire facility). These measures should be tied to goals and targets of the facility’s EMS and pollution prevention plans. VEEP measures are: air emissions, energy use, water discharges, water use, waste, materials use, land use, and product performance.
Does a facility have to have a perfect record of compliance with environmental regulations?
Facilities applying to any level of VEEP must have a record of sustained compliance. As defined by Section 10.1-1187.1 of the Code of Virginia, record of sustained compliance means that "the person or facility (i) has no judgment or conviction entered against it, or against any key personnel of the person or facility or any person with an ownership interest in the facility for a criminal violation of the environmental protection laws of the United States, the Commonwealth, or any state in the previous five years; (ii) has been neither the cause of, nor liable for, more than two significant environmental violations in the previous three years; (iii) has no unresolved notices of violations or potential violations of environmental requirements with the Department or one of the Boards; (iv) is in compliance with the terms of any order or decree, executive compliance agreement, or related enforcement measure issued by the Department, one of the Boards, or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and (v) has not demonstrated in any other way an unwillingness or inability to comply with environmental protection requirements. DEQ will conduct a review of each applying facility’s compliance record, including a review of EPA records as appropriate.