LIFE Project Cover Photo

Eco-Management Audit Scheme for Local Authorities Environmental Benchmarking

Reference: LIFE03 ENV/P/000504 | Acronym: EMAS LAB



A number of EU-funded projects have tested and applied the eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) in municipalities. However, implementation of EMAS in Portugal is limited both in the private and public sectors. Only four private sector bodies have received certification, and none of the 308 local governments in Portugal has proceeded with the implementation of EMAS. Furthermore, the incentives and support necessary for EMAS implementation in the country are also very limited, with instruments that facilitate the process being virtually absent.


The EMAS LAB project was to select EMAS indicators and develop the corresponding benchmarks, as well as to develop tools and methodologies for the implementation of EMAS in the Municipality of Almada. A further objective was to develop EMAS indicators and benchmarks that could be used beyond Almada, for local authorities throughout Portugal.


The project has successfully achieved its objectives of developing benchmarks, tools and methodologies for the implementation of EMAS. However the EMAS registration could not yet be completed by the end of the project. Anyhow, the viability and continuity of the process do not seem in danger, and Almada is well on its way to being the first municipality in Portugal with EMAS registration. Environmental benchmarks considered to be realistic and appropriate to the given local authorities capacities were established for each of the 27 selected EMAS indicators. The indicators were grouped into eight different environmental aspects: water use, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, procurement of goods and services, pollution prevention and control, mobility and transport, and quality of the natural and built environment. Specifically, the more visible face of the EMAS LAB process was the procurement and installation of goods and equipment for resource-savings and waste reduction aimed at a reduction of costs together with better environmental performance. The project introduced LED technology in traffic lights. LEDs offer a tenfold reduction in energy consumption and a life expectancy of an additional 10 years in comparison to traditional traffic lights. Conventional light bulbs were replaced with energy-saving light bulbs at different Almada City Council sites. This will produce a reduction in energy consumption over their lifespan of 80%. The project carried out a conversion of propane gas to natural gas at the municipal sports facility, a switch that represents a15% reduction in CO2 emissions. A condenser battery was installed at the municipal sports facility. Condenser batteries are a more potent replacement for conventional lead-acid batteries. In this case, the battery delivers an average savings of €6,467.41 a year. The project developed and distributed the "Paper Eater", a humorously designed paper recycling bin that encouraged the recycling of 36 tons of used paper and cardboard in the 2005-2006 period, some 12 tonnes more than in 2004. The municipality also switched its procurement of goods and services from its existing suppliers to those that were environmentally accredited (ISO 14001 or EMAS-registered). Six low emission hybrid vehicles were procured, representing a reduction of 8.6 tons of CO2 a year (60%) on that produced by the fleet that they replaced. Throughout the process, staff training was implemented to ensure that municipal employees were all aware of the various stages and requirements of the EMAS system. Ultimately, the development of the EMAS in Almada led to significant improvements in performance and savings in areas such as recycling, solid-waste production, water and energy consumption, green purchasing, greenhouse gas emissions and use of environmentally friendly transport, all the while providing greater value for money. This project has been selected as one of the 21 "Best" LIFE Environment projects in 2007-2008


Reference: LIFE03 ENV/P/000504
Acronym: EMAS LAB
Start Date: 01/11/2003
End Date: 31/10/2006
Total Eligible Budget: 901,384 €
EU Contribution: 450,692 €
Project Location:


Coordinating Beneficiary: Câmara Municipal de Almada
Legal Status: OTHER
Address: Rua Bernardo Francisco da Costa, 42, 2800-029, Almada,
Contact Person: Catarina FREITAS
Email: Send Email
Website: Visit Website

LIFE Project Map



  • Certification
  • Public administration


  • EC regulation on eco-management and audit
  • indicator
  • local authority
  • comparison


  • Regulation 761/2001 - Allowing voluntary participation by organisations in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) (19.03.2001)


Name Type
Câmara Municipal de Almada Coordinator
Leicester City Council (UK) Participant