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Sunday, 11 May 2008 14:39

Is Green Project Management the Wave of the Future?

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green_leafThe influence of green and the focus on the environment continues to expand globally. One sign of this is the number of organizations who have become certified in environmental standards (the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 14000 family of standards). This number continues to increase and companies have been requesting the same of their supply chain partners.

We are all aware of the need to be cognizant of the environment, whether through neighborhood recycling programs, the type of automobiles we purchase, or our attention to carpooling. However, our profession seems to be in its infancy in applying green standards.

At first glance, it appears that any project team could take steps to recycle and reduce the use of resources. This may include reducing the amount of documentation that is printed, where companies have invested in enterprise project management systems, leveraging these systems and any workflow capabilities to receive approvals (eg, on Project Charters, scope change requests, etc). Project team members may be required to shut off computers and printers nightly if this reduces electrical use.

We believe that this is the beginning of getting project teams, sponsors, key stakeholders, and others to think green about each project. “GreenPM” (green project management), coined by Tom Mochal and Andrea Krasnoff, is the support of an organization’s environmental policy through its project management processes. If we are involved in “greenthink”, then we are applying environmentally friendly and sustainable thinking to all aspects of the project management processes. There is not a need to develop many new processes, but consider the environment within our existing processes.

Green project management is a model where we think green throughout our project and make decisions that take into account the impact on the environment – if any. True, all projects cannot achieve the same level of environmental gain but it seems that all projects can consider an environmental component.

For example, in the area of Communications Management we look at the stakeholders involved in our project and determine the type and frequency of communications needed for the various stakeholder groups. How often do organizations currently identify any environment-related stakeholder groups (internal or external) as a part of a communication plan? Many organizations now compliant with the ISO 14000 family of standards may have individuals responsible for and/or participating in their Environmental Management System processes. These individuals may represent a new stakeholder group  who would be interested in your project’s alignment with the environmental policy.

When we think about Risk Management, we identify risks and determine their probability and impact on a project. When applying “greenthink”, a project team may now analyze each risk’s impact on the environment, and how it relates to their organization’s environmental policy. With GreenPM, we may identify some risks that are defined with a different impact level and therefore a different risk rating and risk response strategy that may not have been considered previously. For example, a schedule risk may now be identified if we cannot rely on overtime as an alternative for getting a project back on schedule. While this has never been a recommended best practice in project management, overtime is often a reality based on project constraints (eg, schedule, scope, and budget). If your company’s environmental policy includes an objective to maintain or reduce its use of natural resources, then overtime could impact this objective by requiring additional electrical power and water usage.
The intent of GreenPM is to consider environment-related aspects. You probably do not need to purchase or create a new methodology, but can identify areas within your existing project management methodology to apply “greenthink”. Ultimately it is up to the sponsor and client organization to make the final decisions and determine whether any decisions would be made differently with GreenPM. No decisions may change, but at least we are including the environmental considerations in all project analysis and decisions.


Tom Mochal, PMP is President of TenStep, Inc., ( a company focused on methodology development, training and consulting. Mochal is an expert instructor and consultant on project management, project management offices, development lifecycle, portfolio management, application support, people management and other related areas. He was awarded 2005 Distinguished Contribution Award from the Project Management Institute (PMI). He is author of numerous books and has over 600 columns published on project management, people management, organizational process management and the development life-cycle. Prior work experience includes Geac Computers, The Coca-Cola Company, CapGemini and Eastman Kodak.

Andrea Krasnoff, PMP is Director of TenStep Consulting Services. Andrea has more than 17 years experience in project management, program management, and PMOs. She has managed and delivered projects of various sizes, including rescuing and successfully delivering troubled projects for several clients. She has been responsible for development groups and consistently delivered business-related systems to meet strategic business needs. Prior work experience includes Andersen Consulting, CAP Gemini, The Coca-Cola Company, and Network Communications Inc.

Read 10803 times Last modified on Friday, 02 April 2010 03:39
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