Frequently Asked Questions

Regarding EHS&S, NAEM membership and more

What does NAEM stand for?
NAEM was founded as the National Association for Environmental Management at a time when the profession was still young. Over the past 28 years, the scope of responsibilities for our members has broadened to include health, safety and sustainability.

What is EHS?
Companies that aspire to be better environmental stewards invest in strong environmental, health and safety management, known as EHS. From an environmental standpoint, it involves creating a systematic approach to managing waste, complying with environmental regulations, or reducing the company’s carbon footprint. Successful EHS programs also include measures to address ergonomics, air quality, and other aspects of workplace safety that could affect the health and well-being of employees.

What does an Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) manager do?
Management-level environmental, health and safety, and sustainability leaders are the environmental stewards of the corporate world, working behind the scenes at many of the country's largest companies to comply with regulations, advocate for progressive environmental policies, and protect workers' safety. Engineers or scientists by training, EHS Managers bring a highly specialized skill set to their work, marrying technical expertise with management skills to translate corporate policy into practice.

What is EHS&S versus EHS?
For NAEM's purposes, EHS&S stands for EHS and sustainability. A portion of EHS practitioners use it to mean EHS and security, but when used by NAEM, we are referring to EHS and sustainability.

How does EHS relate to sustainability?
With the advent of sustainability, our members’ skills and experience are more important than ever. EHS leaders are increasingly responsible for designing and implementing strategies to take companies beyond compliance. These initiatives involve tasks such as:

  • Developing and leading a formal sustainability program
  • Creating successful internal partnerships to integrate EHS values and practices across the business
  • Communicating enterprise risks associated with environmental, health, or safety failures
  • Establishing global corporate EHS standards and practices
  • Publicly reporting progress on a full spectrum of EHS and sustainability initiatives
  • Responding to stakeholder inquires about their company’s EHS and sustainability performance
  • Working with supply chain
  • Global auditing
  • Ensuring safe and healthy workplaces around the world

What is the history of the EHS profession?
The corporate EHS function, which oversees environmental, health and safety compliance began to merge at the management level around 1990. The first area is environmental management, which emerged as a profession in the 1970s, following the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other state-level regulatory systems. As companies began limiting waste to prevent pollution, they needed engineers to adapt scrubbers, filters, and other process changes to existing manufacturing systems. Workplace safety and occupational health also grew in importance during this time, with the passage of legislation such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

Over time, companies developed systematic way of complying with environmental, health and safety regulations. Corporations began tracking key measures and looking for ways to improve their performance. Then, in the 1990s, improvements in data technology management made it easier for an organization to analyze its operations. Around that time, corporations began to merge oversight for environmental, health and safety programs through a new management role called EHS. The newly appointed leaders, who began their careers in one of the three sub-disciplines, started to create systems to drive EHS progress across all operations.

Today, with the advent of sustainability, EHS professionals are leading corporate efforts toward sustainability. Building on their decades of experience, EHS leaders are striving to meet this challenge, creating systems to reduce energy use, conserve water, and better communicate with stakeholders. Indeed, a 2009 NAEM survey found that two-thirds of the sustainability initiatives at member companies are being led or managed by the EHS function.

Q: What's the difference between individual and corporate membership?
A: Individual members are those in-house EHS&S leaders who choose to join NAEM on their own to advance their professional goals. This class of membership does not involve participation in the Corporate Benchmarking program, nor a role in NAEM's governance structure. Corporate membership in NAEM, on the other hand, carries these benefits for every person in the company's EHS&S department. Learn more about the benefits of NAEM membership.

Q: If I am an individual member, do my coworkers receive a member discount on programs?
A: No, the discounts just apply to the member. If you have multiple people who are interested in NAEM's offerings, you may want to consider a corporate membership, which covers everyone in your EHS&S department.

Q: Can individual consultants join NAEM?
A: NAEM recognizes that consultants and service providers are valued partners to our members, so we offer an opportunity for that engagement via our Affiliates Council. This class of membership is only available at an enterprise-wide level, however. Individual consultants are not permitted to join on their own.

In order to become part of NAEM's Affiliates Council, which is our preferred vendor list, you must fill out an application, attend at least two of NAEM's conferences and receive recommendations from a few of our members or your clients. Please email for an application and more details.

Q: Is my company a member of NAEM?
A: Check our corporate member page or email

Q: Do you have to be an NAEM member to speak at an event?
A: No, we are always looking for new perspectives and insights to share with our community. Please share your story. Email to inquire about speaking opportunities.

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