Environmental Compliance Assistance Guide


Taking Control of Your Environmental Impact

For decades, colleges and universities have been environmental leaders in studying impacts, teaching science, and promoting values. At the same time, higher education administrators have been playing catch up with a stream of new environmental laws. In some cases, schools have been slow to realize the impact of these laws and to allocate the resources required for complying with them. Typically, university administrations have attended to this issue only after an inspection or fine, or after hearing of another institution's fine. They worry that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) might show up on their doorstep.

Colleges and universities that seek to meet the new legal expectations must realize that the body of environmental laws is much broader than only disposing of chemicals or conducting asbestos abatement programs. Compliant colleges and universities think comprehensively about their environmental impacts. They consider the many federal and state laws that deal with those impacts, and plan accordingly. Schools that meet the requirements set by EPA or state regulators are not simply doing one or two things right - they're doing everything right. More precisely, they can demonstrate that they know the impact their institution has on the environment. They've assessed, inventoried, tested, analyzed, monitored, and reviewed their environmental stressors on their campuses. And those administrators can show that they have control over the operations on their campuses.

However, environmental compliance is a moving target. Colleges and universities must be able to respond to new laws and rules, along with new initiatives by regulatory agencies. Also, the state of the art changes as people and organizations innovate and develop more efficient methods for ensuring compliance. Staying in compliance in the face of these changes means that institutions must continually remake, expand, and improve their environmental program.

To this end, APPA, the association of choice for more than 5,200 educational facilities professionals, and the  Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) have created a partnership. Our first goal is production of this guidance document. The guide exists to assist colleges and universities in meeting the basic requirements of environmental regulations. The guide targets managers (facilities, chemical stockrooms, and unit directors) on campuses where the environmental program is fragmented or does not even exist.

To achieve this goal, the guide provides abstracts of 32 programs derived from eight environmental statutes. Each of these statutes has been the focus of EPA inspections on college campuses in recent years. These abstracts reflect only U.S. federal legislation and regulations. State rules may be more stringent, and institutions must factor any differences between state and federal regulations into compliance programs. For easy reference, a matrix relates the potential areas of regulatory areas with some standard campus functions.

In addition, the guide includes a narrative chapter on effective elements of an environmental management program. Implementing at least some of these elements will help colleges and universities demonstrate control over environmental impact. We hope that this will, in turn, reduce the potential - and possible findings - of an EPA inspection on your campus.

By design, this document is not a checklist or boilerplate environmental management plan or system for a college campus. These kinds of solutions do not integrate the issues into the everyday functions of units. The complexity of the rules, and local and regional variations, precludes "compliance in a can." Instead, we mean for this document to provide the reader with a basic understanding of the various obligations that the body of environmental law imposes on campuses. Using this basic understanding, schools can begin to develop their own compliance plans.

Sponsoring Organizations


APPA promotes leadership in educational facilities for professionals seeking to build their careers, transform their institutions, and elevate the value and recognition of facilities in education. APPA provides members the opportunity
to explore trends, issues, and best practices in educational facilities through research, publications, professional development and credentialing. Formerly the Association of Physical Plant Administrators, APPA is the association of choice for 5,200 educational facilities professionals at more than 1,500 learning institutions throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad.


The Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) is an association designed especially for college and university safety professionals. Founded in 1954, CSHEMA was created to address its members' unique safety concerns and provide campus-specific information as well as networking opportunities. CSHEMA is involved in every area of campus safety, from the disposal of hazardous materials to the most basic of human concerns including protecting personnel and students from harm. CSHEMA is focused on improving safety and environmental health at all colleges and universities.

Order a Hard Copy of the Compliance Guide from APPA