Eco-Friendly or “Green” project management is catching on throughout the business world. There are entire consulting firms devoted to helping businesses engage in more sustainable practices for projects. This is a little different than going green from an operational standpoint. A change in operations can be made once for the entire organization, and then you can move on to the next issue.
With projects, there are always new factors coming into play
So, there are 3 main focus areas in decisions about making projects greener. First, you can make changes in the processes and practices you follow in every project (think of this as being the program management level). Second, there are the decisions that you make that apply to a specific project. Some of these will involve choices you can make during planning. Others will come up during the execution of the project. Third, there is the decision to actually take on a project that makes increasing the sustainability of your organization its major objective. Such a project would result in updated operations protocols and tie in to a corporate stewardship program.
Program Level Green Tips
At the program level, virtualizing as many processes as possible is one way to be more sustainable.
- Does every project document have to be hard copy, or is it possible to store information electronically? Even contracts can be e-signed these days and still be considered valid in court. When you look for a project management software platform, evaluate how many paper-based processes it can really replace and which ones it just duplicates.
- Review your list of most commonly used vendors. Add “eco-responsibility” to the list of factors that determine who you buy from. This can include choosing vendors who ship materials a shorter distance or those who use recycled materials in their products and packaging. Often, you will find that sustainability and cost efficiency go hand-in-hand.
Project Level Green Tips
- At the project level, it’s not just the steps along the way but the final product itself that should be evaluated for “greenness”. Determine if the end consumer can reuse, recycle, or repair the product or any of its components. Look to large corporations that participate in “cradle to cradle” types of certification for ideas in this area. There might be fairly straightforward ways to make your product more energy efficient or less prone to emitting VOCs. For service oriented projects, find ways to work smarter instead of harder to save resources.
- During risk management planning, remember to calculate any risks to the environment. Then, put project management safeguards in place to mitigate these risks rather than simply trying to externalize them and make them someone else’s problem.
Corporate Stewardship Tips
- If possible, make time once per year to instigate an internal project that is focused on reducing waste, increasing energy efficiency, or creating a healthier workplace. Done right, these initiatives pay for themselves in cost savings. You’ll also be able to use these activities to boost morale and to increase your positive branding.