EMS, NIM, APPLICATION AND HOW THEY
INTEGRATE WITH ASSET MANAGEMENT
MAJOR PAT CARLEY, P.E.
MR. TOM WELCH, P.E.
HEADQUARTERS AIR FORCE
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BRANCH
This course provides an overview of asset management, a holistic practice of evaluating natural and built
assets to improve management decision-making and resource allocation. Discussion will begin with a
review of the current Air Force Environmental Management System (EMS), a regulation-centered,
compliance-based process. Natural Infrastructure Management (NIM) will then be introduced. This is a
management philosophy that transforms the current EMS process into one that is mission-focused. NIM
makes environmental programs operational by linking natural infrastructure resources with the mission
requirements they enable. Integration of EMS and NIM into asset management allows for effective
management of air, land and water resources in order to meet operational requirements.
ASSET MANAGEMENT CULTURE
Asset management is a systematic and integrated practice through which the Air Force (AF) optimally
manages its natural and built assets and their associated performance, risk and expenditures over the
lifecycle to a level of service to support missions and organizational goals. Breaking down that definition,
we can see that:
Systematic and integrated – implies disciplined and standardized process
Practices – resources, processes, technologies
Optimally – qualitatively and quantitatively balance benefits, costs, and risks to justify the best
Manage – dynamically leverage assets, not focused on static “entitlement”
Natural assets – environmental, energy, mineral rights, air space, permits and credits
Built assets – such as real property and facilities
Lifecycle - plan, acquire, sustain, manage (leverage), operate, and divest
Level of Service – AF standard measures of quality
So, what is different about asset management? Asset management forces the installations to evaluate the
whole process from a holistic view. It forces us to look at a spectrum of natural and built assets, not just
portions or sections of an asset. Asset management compels us to think, “Why are we doing what we are
doing, and why are we doing it this way”.
In August 2007, The Air Force Civil Engineer, Major General Del Eulberg1 provided the following
commentary, “Over the past few months, we've initiated one of the most significant paradigm shifts in civil
engineering's recent history by starting our transition to an asset management culture. Initially, the most
visible changes will be to the organizational chart, but these just mark the beginning of our long journey to
revolutionize how we manage our installations and infrastructure.” He added,
Asset management can be defined as using systematic and integrated processes to
manage natural and built assets and their associated performance, risk, and expenditures
over their life cycles to support missions and organizational goals. Asset managers will
be expected to apply a disciplined, deliberate approach to managing our asset
portfolio in a more holistic and proactive manner than we've done in the past. Asset
managers will provide strategic direction by asking several important questions: What
assets do we need? What assets do we have? What's the resulting capability gap? And
finally, what are the options to optimize these assets? Asset managers may not "own" all
the associated processes to answer these questions, but they'll be able to integrate the
information across the functional spectrum to ensure a comprehensive strategy to fully
utilize, optimize, and leverage Air Force assets.
AIR FORCE FRAMEWORK: WHERE THE AF IS TODAY
How different is asset management from what we do today? Our current system is stressed due to lack of
funding, requirements or are stove piped in a non-integrated way.
Figure 1: Where the Air Force is Today
Where the AF is today
Available Capability Assessment Required
Assets Gap Analysis Assets
Business Case / Risk Analysis
Maintain Update Acquire Make Better Use Divest Leverage
Assets Assets Assets Of Assets Assets Assets
Sustain, Restore, Optimize Space, Disposal, EUL,
Run to failure Modernize MILCON Recover Value Pickle Barter
OK in some areas, but still no holistic, integrated approach
I n t e g r i t y S e r v i c e E x c e l l e n c e
In figure 1, the boxes in dark gray (current requirements, maintain/update/acquire assets) are areas where
we are doing OK, but in a stove piped and non-integrated way. The categories in light gray (future
requirements, available assets, gap analysis, required assets and divest assets) are in need of improvement,
while the remaining items in black (risk analysis, use of assets, leverage assets) are steps in the asset
management process that we don’t do at all now and are at the heart of asset management. Asset
management will be the next step in the pursuit of efficiency.
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
The Air Force Environmental Program is well established with respect to audits, planning documents,
permit monitoring, measurement, emergency preparedness and response, training and documentation, as
well as environmental quality policies. However, the program is typically executed in a fragmented nature
aligned along environmental media and/or statutory requirements and is focused on achieving or
maintaining compliance. Components of these programs do not tend to interact well and often fail to
recognize broad mission objectives. The Air Force Environmental Management System (EMS) takes the
best parts of the existing Environmental Program and retools and augments them to create a system that
eliminates inherent weaknesses. In determining how to best implement Executive Order (EO) 13148, Air
Force leaders decided to adopt a position of adapting the current environmental program to a system that
conforms to a majority of the ISO 14001 standard, but not all of its elements as shown in figure 2. This
decision allows the Air Force to fully meet the intent of the EO, retain the rigor of the internationally
proven standard, and maintain a certain degree of flexibility to account for unique and militarily significant
Figure 2: The Air Force EMS Model
An effective EMS identifies and provides for the planning and management of all the organization’s
operations and activities including facility training and operation resources. It identifies risks and creates
focus to reduce those risks through training, formalizing work procedures, controlling documents and
identifying performance measures. An EMS involves and integrates senior management, through the use
of the Environmental Safety and Occupational Health Council (ESOHC) and teams to continually monitor
performance and steer the process through its short term needs and long term planning.
An EMS cannot focus solely on continuous risk reduction of Environmental impacts. The AF EMS will
help the AF reduce the risk and impacts to the environment and increase the effectiveness of day-to-day
operations related to environmental impacts. However, an EMS that only focuses on continuous risk
reduction of environmental impacts does not typically consider regional trends in sustainability or
availability of natural resources such as air space, air quality, frequency spectrum, water supply and
discharge availability, and military and non-military land availability.
The EMS vision has changed from solely focusing on the continuous risk reduction of environmental
impacts to integrated management of the entire resource base including natural infrastructure. It is crucial
to aggressively manage natural infrastructure as assets rather than liabilities in order to meet mission needs.
Natural infrastructure regulatory compliance is as essential as meeting mission needs. Operational
requirements are identified and translated into resource requirements (i.e.: needs statements, footprints).
Deficiencies are identified and quantified (i.e. encroachment), while resource opportunities are also
identified and quantified (i.e., headspace, room for growth). Preventing encroachment is the fulcrum of the
integrated management system. The management system will address deficiencies in the resource base
through a comprehensive and well coordinated set of management actions.
NATURAL INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT
To enhance the operational sustainability through the improved management of natural resources, the Air
Force has implemented a concept called Natural Infrastructure Management (NIM). NIM institutes a
holistic, asset management approach that links organizations that control NI assets (e.g., emission
allowances, frequency spectrum, land training areas, etc.) and focuses management actions toward one
common goal - mission sustainment. It integrates associated operational and environmental information to
provide decision makers with a more complete and relevant picture regarding current operational
opportunities and deficiencies, their impacts, and how conditions are expected to change in the future. At
the installation and MAJCOM levels, this process will assist in identifying and prioritizing initiatives to
address mission inefficiencies and encroachment, and leveraging excess capacities for mission growth.
Additionally, at the Air Staff and DoD levels, when combined with similar data from other commands and
Services, it will enable senior leaders to more comprehensively understand the impacts of high-level
decisions, such as basing.
Natural Infrastructure Management is the fist step in Asset Management. It is a management philosophy
that transforms current regulation-centered, compliance-based process into one that is mission-focused.
The concept makes the environmental program operational by linking NI resources with the mission
requirements they enable while meeting legal obligations. NIM invokes an asset management system for
the environment. It employs an integrated, holistic, systems approach to (1) determine the NI “footprints”
for mission requirements, (2) quantify the capabilities of the NI available to installations to support these
missions, (3) analyze the “gaps” between requirements and capabilities, and (4) evaluate the corresponding
operational opportunities and risks. This process then leads to developing requirements to correct
deficiencies, curtailing encroachment, and leveraging excess capabilities for mission growth.
Natural Infrastructure Management Benefits and Uses
Natural Infrastructure Management is extremely beneficial to the installation in protecting the Natural
Infrastructure needed to meet operational requirements. NIM allows leadership to get a complete picture of
the ability of the natural infrastructure to support the mission, and the ability to support any future mission
changes. This management system supports the decision making process by enhancing the installation
general plan and range comprehensive plan by including NIM data during planning activities, providing
additional justification for resource allocation and maintaining environmental compliance through more
aggressive monitoring of environmental permit limits and actual levels. Leadership would now have the
information to determine if the installation has enough NI resources to support the existing mission or a
change in mission. An additional benefit is the ability for installations to leverage NI opportunities
(mitigation credits, air emissions credits, and buffer acquisition). NIM data also provides useful data to
each of the NI resources.
Airspace – Uses of Data
The use of airspace is vital to the Air Force accomplishing its mission. The data collected during a NI
Assessment can help the installation protect its airspace and even increase utilization using a management
system construct. The population of neighboring communities is growing around many installations across
the country. NIM can monitor growth near and in approach corridors and noise contours. Limiting this
growth and/or the impact that the mission has on it can preserve airspace in the future. NIM can also justify
the need for additional, enlarged or different geometric air space. It is possible that an installation cannot
support the current mission, and NIM would provide the reasoning for additional airspace and more diverse
areas for training. A final benefit is that gathered data promotes the ability to maximize the use of existing
airspace with opportunities for growth.
Surface Land – Uses of Data
NIM is very important in the use of surface land on base, and the monitoring of ongoing development off
base. The data gathered during a Natural Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) provides numerous benefits.
First, it allows for improved communication between the installation and the local community. Data can be
shared between the two entities and encroachment can be minimized due to better communication. NIM
can also provide justification for the acquisition of buffers/easements to stem off site development, which
could help sustain missions. A reduction of potential noise complaints from the local community is a result
of the acquisition of buffers/easements. Collected data is also beneficial for on-base land use and future
development. Minimizing the impact of constraints, while maximizing opportunities (both mission and
environmental quality) through careful and judicious land use and site planning is one of the benefits of
NIM. Finally, it improves the ability to protect and preserve natural and built environments, and optimizes
the siting of future facilities to accommodate additional missions. In general, NIM greatly aids the general
planning process with the data that is collected, as well as improves the communication and relationship
with neighboring localities.
Air Quality – Uses of Data
The amount of pollution that is emitted from the installation, and the amount of pollution in the region can
determine the installation’s ability to complete its mission. NIM provides valuable air quality information
to leadership for decision making purposes. One of the valuable benefits of the data gathered is that it
helps monitor regional air quality for potential encroachments. Being located in a non-attainment area
could result in serious restrictions to the installation’s ability to emit a certain pollutant. A second benefit is
the ability to “bank” credits with other entities in the region. This could allow for an increase in headroom
for a certain pollutant, which could result in a modification of the mission. A final benefit of NIM is that it
could provide justification for equipment upgrades or pollution prevention solutions. The purchase of
modern and more efficient equipment could reduce the amount of certain pollutants that the installation is
Water Supply/Discharge – Uses of Data
An installation needs the ability to bring water into the installation, and the ability to discharge used water.
A benefit of NIM data is that it allows the installation to monitor water quality regionally for potential
encroachments. There could be serious encroachment issues if the source of water (and the receiving body
of water for discharge) has pollution issues. Water supply/discharge data will also be extremely important
to decision makers to determine if the installation can support an increase in aircraft, personnel, etc. This
would include the ability to pollute and if the water treatment system can support a change.
Frequency Spectrum – Uses of Data
Access to radio frequency is vital to the Air Force accomplishing its mission. Like air quality and water
supply/discharge, the data compiled during a NIA can provide additional justification for upgrades or
replacement of outdated spectrum technologies. An upgrade in technology can allow for more efficient use
of the frequency, and could allow for an upgrade in mission. An additional benefit is that NIM monitors for
encroachment into the critical frequencies of the mission. NIA information can note any congestion or
interference issues that the installation experiences.
INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS WITH MISSION
REQUIREMENTS USING NATURAL INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT
The Environmental Management System should continue to reduce risks and exposure and focus on
sustaining, restoring, and modernizing the resources needed at each installation to support its missions. In
order to sustain operational capability at our installations and ranges, the Air Force needs to maintain an
adequate supply of air & space, land, and water resources (i.e.: natural infrastructure) to test, train, and
perform diverse missions. However, physical resource limitations, increasing local competition for those
resources, regulatory restrictions, and other encroachment pressures are increasingly straining the ability to
maintain access to the NI to meet current and emerging mission requirements. Presently at many of our
installations, the NI is constrained, forcing bases to employ workarounds, accommodate inefficiencies, and/
or incur added costs to accomplish daily Air Force missions. In other locations, the NI is plentiful and
provides moderate or significant opportunities for mission growth.
NIM fits nicely into the EMS structure. The effective management of air, land and water resources to meet
operational requirements includes many of the elements of an EMS. The discussion below elaborates on
how NIM fits into each element of a management system and figure 3 provides a visual description.
Integrate NI into the EMS Cross Functional Team (CFT): Installations should consider integrating NIM
requirements into the existing CFT (e.g., Environment, Safety and Occupational Health Management
System (ESOHMS) CFT). It is highly encouraged that the team is chaired by no lower than deputy group
commander and has Communications and Operations Support Squadron representatives as members. This
team will coordinate annual NI assessments, provide support needed to collect information, and continue
NIM review and management through the ESOHMS framework.
Figure 3: Illustration of How Natural Infrastructure Management Fits into an Installation’s EMS
Environmental Policy Phase: The installation Environmental Policy Statement is the driver for
implementing and improving the installation’s EMS so that an installation can maintain and improve its
environmental performance. An installation’s current EMS policy should reflect a commitment to
compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and provide foresight for continual
improvement. With a broader focus to include the NI, the policy statement should also include a
commitment to sustaining the NI in addition to maintaining compliance and preventing pollution. Steps
should be put into place to achieve that commitment once the installation commits to sustaining, restoring,
and modernizing the NI to ensure operational capability.
Planning Phase: Encroached resources are identified by NI assessments (conducted during the Checking
and Corrective Actions Phase) are used as part of a risk ranking methodology such as aspect/impact
identification. For those areas with the highest risk, objectives and targets are set and action plans
developed to mitigate risk or NI degradation. Objectives and targets (e.g., creation of a conservation
easement, procurement of emission reduction credits, or environmental restoration actions to increase the
number of on-base developable acres) are then carried forward into the planning, programming and
budgeting and execution (PPBE) funding process. This entire risk management process is underpinned by
measures of merit and funding guidelines that allow natural infrastructure managers to fund a wide variety
of valid projects that meet regulatory compliance requirements, encroachment prevention requirements, and
mission driven requirements.
Implementation and Operation Phase: Installations reduce risk and prevent degradation through actions
and investments that support operational and regulatory requirements. The actions may include such things
as: clearly define roles and responsibilities; provide job-specific training; develop or update written
procedures to reduce the potential for environmental impact; stipulate operating criteria to support current
and emerging operational requirements; ensuring the most current versions of the necessary plans,
checklists and other documents are available when and where needed; increase communication with local
planning authorities and local community officials; and manage permits as assets rather than liabilities.
Sustaining, restoring, and modernizing the resource base becomes part of day-to-day operations.
Checking and Corrective Action Phase: The NI Assessment is part of the Checking and Corrective Action
Element within a Management System construct as shown in figure 3. Just as the Environment Capability
Assessment and Management Process (ECAMP) is used to “check” the health of the Environmental
Compliance Program, the Natural Infrastructure Assessment “checks” the health of the Natural
Infrastructure. Senior Leadership should be briefed on the initial NI Results and provide direction and
priority for improvements. integration of the two programs should commence after the NI results are
presented to senior leadership. Corrective actions must be developed and executed to sustain, restore, and
modernize the existing resource base as well as maintain compliance and improve EMS conformance.
Performance measures should be tracked overtime to keep the pulse of programs. Any resource deficiencies
should be identified and quantified in order to obtain adequate funding through the Planning, Programming,
Budget, and Execution (PPBE) funding process.
Management Review: The results of NI assessments should be presented to senior leadership at least once
annually along with regular updates. NI data have the potential to affect future basing decisions.
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PLANS
The first two steps are to develop clear and concise objectives and targets followed by complete
Environmental Management Plans (EMPs). EMPs are the heart of the management system into which all
other elements are hinged.
Significant Aspects: Those activities, products, or services at Air Force installations that interact with the
environment are known as environmental aspects. The change to the environment that results from this
interaction is known as the aspect’s impact. Developing a list of environmental aspects and analyzing the
significance of their impacts creates the foundation on which the rest of the EMS program will be built. It
also allows the Air Force to focus its limited resources on those impacts that have the greatest potential
negative impact on the environment and the mission. Installations should generate their aspect lists using
the steps and methods described in the EMS guidance previously issued by the Air Staff. As significant
aspects are identified, an installation should keep in mind that only 5 or 6 significant aspects can have the
risk reduced or otherwise improved at any given time so the aspect scoring and ranking criteria should only
yield a few significant aspects. Typically about a half a dozen aspects emerge.
Objectives and Targets: Objectives and targets must be developed for each of the installation’s significant
aspects, as they define the desired final outcome for addressing the environmental impacts. Specifically:
Objectives are the specific issues where the installation will focus its efforts. They may be quantifiable
and measurable or they can be more general. At least one objective must be developed for each significant
environmental aspect. Typically objectives are developed for maintaining compliance as well as for
pollution prevention or some improvement area. Objectives should also be developed for maintaining
natural infrastructure to meet operational requirements.
Targets are established to support objectives. Each objective typically has many targets. Targets are more
specific than objectives and must be measurable over time. Targets must be measurable and have a
completion date for when they are to be achieved.
Figure 4: An Example Environmental Management Plan
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PLAN
Environmental Aspect Document Control Code
Storm Water Discharge 1
Date Initiated: Anticipated Completion Date
Jan 1, 2007 March 2009
Person Responsible for Aspect Unit Phone X- 1234
Mr Smith 17th CES/CEV
Contributing Processes: Stormwater Runoff
Legal and Other Requirements: List legal citations, AFI Requirements and specific documents such as
permits, plans, etc
- Storm Water NPDES permit, SW PPP
- SW P2 Plan, SW Management Plan
See paragraphs above in this paper
See paragraphs above in this paper
Objective 1: Maintain
compliance with SW
Target 1.1: Ensure
monitoring permit are
completed and mailed
by the 15th of each
percentage of Monthly
DMR completed and
submitted on time.
Objective 2: Maintain
Requirements of the
Target 2.1: Conduct
SW awareness training
An example environmental management plan is shown in figure 4. After the EMPs are fully developed for
each of the significant aspects, the next step is to develop a plan for each media program. As a media
program manager a good question to ask yourself is, “If I won the lottery and did not return to work, could
someone take over my job without there being major problems?” If the answer is no, you probably need to
develop a more robust EMP. An effective EMS will not be personality or individual dependent. It should be
process dependent. After the EMPs are in place, review existing operational controls. Once the EMPs are
developed, the Installation CFT should focus its attention on implementing the EMPs. From there they
should consider reviewing operational controls and document management.
EMPs and Asset Management Plans (AMPs)
Asset Management Plans (AMPs) are complimentary plans that build onto existing EMPs. The EMP feeds
the overall development of the AMP. To date, the Air Force is still defining the exact content of the AMPs.
However, the creation of AMPs does not alleviate the need for EMPs. In an ideal situation both EMPs and
AMPs will share information and define overall needs. When developing EMS objectives and targets, it is
critical to understand the level of service for the asset in question, so as not to establish unrealistic
objectives that negatively impact the mission of the asset. The EMP can also develop cost estimates for
achieving objectives and targets which should feed the overall financial requirements appendices.
In his commentary, the Air Force Civil Engineer, Major General Del Eulberg concluded,
We've also widened the aperture in defining an ‘asset,’ no longer restricting it to
traditional ‘brick and mortar’ infrastructure such as real property and housing. Now the
term also includes our environmental and energy resources, all of which have some level
of intrinsic worth that should be harnessed. Enhanced-use leasing, trading air credits, and
even selling energy back to utility companies are a few examples of largely untapped
value. To fully unleash the synergistic potential of our total Air Force portfolio, we're
moving toward a more widespread strategy of centralizing or ‘bundling’ purchases of
both goods and services, and standardizing our core processes and service standards
where feasible. Without exception, corporations, cities, and federal agencies who have
adopted asset management capabilities have significantly reduced their costs and
dramatically improved their effectiveness and efficiency. But these successes were not
realized overnight. Our transformation to a fully realized asset management culture will
be a marathon, spanning months if not years, so we'll start with small victories and
continue with a bridging strategy to get us where we ultimately need to be. We have
tough work ahead of us -- creating and reengineering our processes, and developing asset
management tools such as a robust training program and a powerful IT system. But we
are stepping out quickly with the focused goal of enhancing our support to the warfighter
by returning dollars to the mission while efficiently providing required infrastructure and
delivering on our promise to take care of our Airmen. I'm sure asset management will
present some challenges, yet I'm equally confident it will create new opportunities for our
bases as well as the men and women who work so hard every day in supporting those
bases. I have no doubt that our Air Force civil engineers have the talent and drive to make
asset management a complete success.
1. August 16, 2007. Civil Engineer Magazine. Major General Del Eulberg
The opinions and conclusions in this paper are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of
the United States Air Force or the Federal Government
Patrick J. Carley, Maj, USAF, P.E., HQ USAF/A7CAQ, Activity Manager (Environmental Services)
Commercial: (703) 604-3626 DSN: 664
Tom Welch, Booz Allen Hamilton, Commercial: (757) 893-6146, email@example.com