Interest in environmental stewardship and responsible resource use has never been higher. Around the globe, companies are looking for ways to reduce waste and limit the impact of their activities on the environment. Not only does being environmentally responsible help organizations appeal to customers, it can also help lower costs by cutting resource needs and lowering exposure to potential regulatory penalties.
When a company incorporates a “green” mentality into its project management strategy, the positive effects can ripple throughout the organization, leading to greater efficiency, lower waste and higher employee morale. Here’s a look at five strategies for planning and executing sustainable projects in any industry.
#1. Start by assessing your current project sustainability
Before taking steps toward greater sustainability, it’s important to know where you currently stand. A sustainability analysis will help you find your greatest opportunities for improvement, and will help you measure progress as your sustainability initiative takes shape. When assessing your project sustainability, consider first whether the concept of sustainability applies to a given project or project management practice, then evaluate the costs and effort needed to make improvements, the potential benefit to the environment and the company’s reputation and the potential cost savings that could result.
#2. Develop a sustainability strategy
Once your assessment is complete, the next step is to draft a strategy that defines the organization’s goals in improving sustainability, how the improvements will be achieved and what the organization hopes to gain in the process. Similar to a project plan, the strategy should name the people, roles or departments who will be responsible for leading the sustainability initiative and the level of authority they will have in determining project priorities.
#3. Adopt a sustainability standard
As interest in project sustainability continues to grow, organizations have begun to set standards to help executive leaders and project managers determine whether they are meeting their sustainability goals. Green Project Management, for example, recently released the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management, a set of goals and metrics that companies can use to guide their own efforts.
#4. Look for sustainability in partners and vendors
The larger an organization is, the more pressure it can exert on the companies it does business with. Asking vendors and suppliers to increase their own sustainability can not only reduce your own organization’s environmental footprint, it can lead to broader improvements among your vendors’ other customers as well.
#5. Spread the word
As with any organizational effort, communication is the key to success. As soon as your sustainability strategy is defined, start engaging your project teams in the process. Ask for feedback on your sustainability goals, and solicit new ideas that employees might have based on their previous projects. The more ownership your employees feel in the sustainability effort, the harder they’ll work to make it a success.
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