The world is going green – even in the United States. We are collectively realizing that we do not have an unlimited amount of air or water or space to continue to utilize resources as we have done in the past. The pending warnings about climate change serves as a rallying cry for an environmentally friendly movement that has been underway since at least the 1970s.
How can we apply these “green” concepts to our project management discipline? One obvious way is that we can manage green projects more efficiently. For example, if you are the project manager on a project that will result in a using less packaging in your products, it would be good if your project completed on time. The sooner that project ends, the sooner the green benefits will be achieved.
On the other hand, most project managers do not run these kinds of projects. Most of us deal with projects such as installing a new software package or upgrading network infrastructure. How can these projects become more environmentally friendly?
The answer is green project management
Green project management is a model where we think green throughout our project and make business decisions considering the environment as a project stakeholder. Here are some examples:
I have seen many Project Charters templates. However, I have never seen a charter with a section on environmental implications. Therefore, I am sure that most project managers never give it a thought as they are defining the project. I am also sure that few project sponsors give it a thought either.
But are there ways that your project can be greener if you would only think about it. For instance, if you are upgrading your network infrastructure, it is likely that some of your equipment will be obsolete. This old equipment should be recycled or donated.
You know the process – identify an issue, determine the cause, estimate the impact to your project, look for alternatives, make recommendations, etc. Now let’s add a section to the Issues Form to identify environmental impacts – if any. Most issues do not have an environmental impact, but having the section on your template gets you thinking each time.
The Point …
The point about green project management is not that we make every decision in favor of the one that is most environmentally friendly. The point is that we start to take the environmental implications into account on our projects. You will make most decisions the same as you do today. But there might be some decisions you would make differently. These different decisions, multiplied by tens of thousands each day across the world, can make a difference.