Environmental Auditing: an Introduction to the three types of environmental audits

Environmental auditing is a critical aspect of sustainable development, ensuring that businesses and projects operate in an environmentally responsible manner. Certified environmental auditors in Australia can perform different types of audits to help businesses meet compliance requirements and identify areas for improvement.

Here are three types of environmental audits commonly used by businesses in Australia:

1. Contaminated site audit

This type of audit evaluates the environmental conditions of a site to determine whether it is suitable for a particular use or development. The conditions under which they are conducted are governed by EPA regulations in each State and Territory and environmental auditors are required to abide by guidelines issued by the EPA.

A contaminated land audit involves a thorough examination of the site’s history, identifying potential sources of contamination, and current environmental conditions, including air, soil, and water quality. They are commonly used in the context of property transactions, such as when a new owner wishes to purchase or lease a site for development or use. They are also required by regulatory bodies when a site is being decommissioned, a new development planned, or when a change of land use is proposed.

Contaminated site audit, Environmental Scientist

These audits are relevant to a range of industries, including real estate, construction, and land development. They are also important in industries that involve potentially hazardous materials, such as manufacturing, mining, waste management and transportation. The result of conducting a site assessment audit is the production of a thorough report that provides extensive information on the environmental conditions of the site. This report includes an evaluation of potential risks, recommendations for remediation or management measures, and often assesses the suitability of the site for its current or intended purpose. The report may also include recommendations for ongoing environmental monitoring or management.

2. Compliance audit

Most often, this type of audit assesses a business’ compliance with environmental regulations, laws, and standards. It ensures that the business is meeting all legal requirements and can identify potential non-compliance issues. It can also be used to ensure that various regulatory and other controls (such as environmental management plans required as part of Planning approvals). This type of audit is commonly used in industries that can have a high impact on the environment, such as mining, oil and gas, waste management and manufacturing. They are also sometimes required in building and property development project approvals.

3. Environmental management system audit

This audit evaluates the effectiveness of an organisation’s environmental management system (EMS), including its policies, procedures, and performance.

A management system audit evaluates a business’ environmental management system (EMS) to ensure that it is effective and meets the intended objectives. It can identify areas for improvement and provide recommendations for optimising the EMS. This type of audit is commonly used in industries that are focused on sustainable development, such as renewable energy and eco-tourism.

Environmental management system audit

These types of audits collectively contribute to sustainable business practices, responsible land use, and the protection of our natural resources. By undergoing these audits, businesses not only meet compliance requirements but also gain valuable insights into their environmental impact and potential areas for improvement.

Environmental audits are indispensable tools for promoting sustainable development and responsible environmental stewardship.