Green Project Management: An Overview

Editorial Team

Green Project Management

Surprisingly many still think that green project management is a fad.

This is because they are not looking at it with their opportunity eyes wide open.

Do you know that businesses are now appreciating the value of green?

Of course with an increase in “Green Wave” awareness amongst the general population.

According to the car manufacturer General Motors report, in 2016 they saved $5million by using renewable energy sources.

Toyota also saw the need for energy-efficient motoring, it leads them to develop and launch the Prius in 1997.

This opened a new market appealing to eco – friendly drivers and gave the company an edge over its competitors.

Project professionals now have reasons to think about new opportunities, develop and renew their project portfolio.

A shift in thinking is required since every project is about changing this shouldn’t stretch you.

“When an idea is considered new it’s first condemned as ridiculous, dismissed as trivial, until eventually, it becomes what everybody knows” William James, 1879.

What is Green Project Management?

Green Project Management can be referred to as a “real” green project.

The term goes beyond projects involving wind farms or biofuel production. And it’s not limited to project managers that are “tree-huggers”.

Sustainability, efficiency and environmental concerns are key for green projects.

Green Project Terminology: The Language of the Green Wave


Its potential on the globe is insurmountable, having the ability to maintain healthy environments and socioeconomic systems on a local and global scale indefinitely.

The economy and communities cannot exist without the environment. They are solely dependent on the environmental condition.

According to United Nations sustainability are activities that do not comprise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

On the other hand, healthy ecosystems and environments are necessary for the survival of humans and other organisms.

The possibility that human societies will achieve environmental sustainability has been and continued to be questioned.

This can be true considering environmental degradation, climate change, overconsumption, population growth and pursuit of unlimited economic growth.

Green VS Eco – Friendly

Green is widely used to describe anything that benefits the environment, from business practices to design and products. However eco – friendly refers to anything that doesn’t harm the planet.

Now you know better, green and eco-friendly do not have the same meaning.

Carbon Footprint

This is a measure of the total amount of carbon dioxide (C02) and other greenhouse gas emissions over the full life cycle of a product and service. All these contribute to global warming.

Green washing

The practice of companies making their products to appear to be environmentally sound by putting them in green packages, claiming they are biodegradable when they are not.

Waste stream

Flow or movement of waste from the point of generation (household or commercial places) to final disposal (landfill).

Environmentally Concerns

This refers to projects that are aware of the impact it has on its surrounding environment.

Consciously purchasing decisions are made and buying habits are formed.

Proper research and labels read before investing in a product.

This will usually be from a brand  with sustainability at its core.


The ability of a material to be broken down by natural processes such as microorganisms and then absorbed by the ecosystem.

Types of Green Projects

When you read further, you will discover that these are not new ideas. They are   merely old ideas that have been rewired with reinvented thoughts.

Renewable Energy Sources

Creating renewable energy sources such as a wind farm or hydroelectricity plant. These type of project has the added benefit of providing power as well as reducing emissions.


Changing agricultural processes to methods that are more environmentally friendly, a significant reduction in carbon emissions can be achieved.


Opportunities are buzzing around our noses. Switching transportation options to less carbon-intensive means or introducing new techniques to improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

Afforestation and Reforestation

Forest is one of the most useful ways to reduce carbon as they naturally absorb GHGs (greenhouse gases).

Afforestation refers to the process of establishing a forest on land that has never been forest or has been one for a considerable period.

Reforestation an Afforestation alternative. This is the restocking of existing forests or woodlands which have been depleted.

Projects as such have the added benefits of safeguarding the habitats of hundreds of species of animals relying on forests and rainforest for survival.

Wastewater Treatment

This type of project might not fit your fancy.Wastewater treatment facilities have a significant impact on reducing the environmental effects of various wastewater producing processes and factories.

Industries that use innovation and technology to reduce environmental impact desires some credits based on C02 reduction.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

In a community, individuals come together and pledge to support a local farm’s operations in exchange for weekly deliveries of seasonal produce.

Problem Drivers and Indicators

The process of achieving project management goals just happened to be missing the environmental label.

Climate Change

Organizations are pushing towards “green” with an increase in information on climate change.

The word climate change is used because the Natural Academy of Science prefers the term over global warming. This refers to major changes in temperature, rainfall, snow or wind patterns.

Do you know that more than 90% of the warming we have experienced is due to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from human activities according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes (IPCC)?

Climate change is mostly man-made and if not checked will continue until something is done.

It’s no news that customers, subcontractors, suppliers, and sponsors are changing their spending and vendor selection habits.

Alternatively, individuals and organizations need to be more responsible. The human contribution has caused more harm than good.

Look around your immediate surroundings, the earth’s natural resources are slowly depleting.

Climate change and its dangers are one of the biggest global concerns right now.

It will even shock you more that communities might disapprove of any project if it poses danger to the environment.

Some projects are highly dependent on climate and geological conditions if environmental conditions are not considered projects may fail.

Population Increase

Tom Friedman once said in Hot, Flat and Crowded, the increase in population in the next 40 years is equal to the earth’s population itself.

In this era of globalization, significant projects will be carried out to provide basic amenities, like food, water, and housing.

Innovation will rule in our shrinking environment. Guess what it will be green innovation, needed to protect an already fragile environment.

Population growth is an underlying threat to sustainability due to increased consumption of energy and materials needed to provide for more people.

Looking further you will discover that the increasing pressure on the planet’s resources – water, forest, land, and the earth’s atmosphere has contributed to climate change and environmental sustainability challenges.

In all these, it’s about changing your mindset to “green” and taking into account the environment when making decisions.

Rapidly Developing Nations and Resource Depletion

It’s no doubt that population growth places a major strain on resources available. This explosion is acting as a catalyst for resource depletion.

It is true we may be having declined economic growth in the form of air and water pollution, deforestation, soil erosion and extraction of natural resources.

Green projects are being adopted to help rapidly developing nations and   associated  issues with resource depletion.

Recently they have accounted for remarkable depletion of resources. Projects from an environmental focused portfolio are now being born.

Environmental Degradation and Biodiversity

When people decide that the environment takes back seat to something else, like greed, environmental degradation occurs.

Have you ever pondered on the effect of deforestation on our flora and fauna habitat? Consider the number of species that are lost every year.

Another cause of environmental degradation is pollution. Examples are air pollution – smog and ozone depletion, water pollution – improper or lack of sanitation facilities and industrial waste dumping.

Katrina Hurricane is an example of an environmental disaster. Natural or manmade disaster has the potential to adversely affect the biodiversity of an area.

Government Agencies Mandates and Guidelines

The global green standard is a set of regulation development by the International Organization for Standardization (IOS).

They are saddled with the duty of environmental management, providing a framework for organizations to work with to validate that their project is green or will effortlessly make it green.

Tips for a Greener Office

Assess your current position

To highlight the potential area of change, audit your organization’s working practices and access their environmental impact.

For instance, you might be spending more on utility bills than expected. Your waste products may be on the increase than the industry average.

Your team members might be purchasing items that they don’t need or you may just be printing out documents when you can send them electronically.

Set Goals

Once you’ve assessed your environmental impact, set goals for reducing it. Ensure they are realistic and achievable, track your progress.

Think before you buy

The best way to prevent waste and reduce the need for recycling is too useless. Remember these words “reduce, reuse, and recycle”.

Switch to reusable products – dishware and cutlery, cloth towels or energy saving hand dryers instead of paper towels in the bathroom.

Before any purchase asks yourself is there is a more eco – friendly alternative with less packaging.

Make recycling easy

Indicate recycling points in easily accessible places around the office and with a clear signpost of items people can and cannot recycle.

Also, consider how you can responsibly dispose of larger or potentially hazardous items like electronics and batteries. You can donate to charity or use specialized services to recycle them.

Watch your power use

Energy-efficient LED bulbs can use 70 – 75% less energy. They emit less heat and last up to 50 times longer. Get into the habit of turning off the lights when leaving a room.

Alternatively, you can install motion sensors that turn of lights automatically in bathrooms, break rooms and conference areas.

Computers, printers, and other main power devices consume energy even when they are not in use.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, switching these devices off fully could save your organization some money.

A good way to tackle this is by using “Smart” power strips that stop power consumption completely.

Switch Energy Supplier

Many utility companies use renewable energy sources. Changing your supplier will cut down some cost and reduce your organization’s environmental impact.

If it’s feasible you could consider installing solar panels or “micro” wind turbines on the roof of your office to generate your energy.

Plant trees

Planting trees will save energy and make your work environment healthier and attractive. Not all workplaces will have space for this, if you can’t plant trees, placing plants around the office can help to clean the air and promote natural climate control.

Cut Down on Car Journey

You could encourage people to walk, cycle or use public transportation.

Post transit schedules and bike routes, arrange cycle to work schemes.

This saves on community time and reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Use Technology

Do you need to fly to that face – to – face meeting in another city or country?

Maximize the sea of information and digitalization, conduct training,

 catch-ups, conferences or even job interviews online.

This is often more cost-effective as well as environmentally friendly

Review your suppliers

When you’re auditing your organization’s environmental impact, consider your extended networks, how green are your suppliers?

If you have concerns, discuss it with your procurement department. Change suppliers if the need is or encourage an existing one to work more greenly.

Perhaps they could package items more effectively to cut down on waste or use electronic invoices instead of paper. If you find areas that need improvement, discuss these concerns with your procurement department and explore alternative suppliers that prioritize eco-friendly practices. Encourage suppliers to adopt more sustainable packaging methods, like custom pizza boxes created with eco-friendly materials, to reduce waste or shift towards electronic invoicing to minimize paper usage and promote a greener supply chain.

Some Great lessons learned to work on Green Initiatives

• Top-level support and collaborative working – there is a major disconnect between the strategy and practical solutions.

• Clients and contractors don’t fully understand the issues and opportunities.

• Program and project management community awareness is very patchy – failing to communicate and train staff.

• Plenty of academics, lots of science but no experts to guide organizational responses.

• Regulations are tighter, buildings greener, but carbon footprint is not shrinking.

Why Green Management Matters

There are a lot of good reasons to do our bit for the environment.

• Pollution prevention improves our health.

• When wildlife is protected we continue to enjoy our natural habitat.

• Reduction in consumption will preserve resources for the future.

• Save money and reduce costs with greener working practices.

• Stimulate innovation and reveal new sources of revenue, or even entirely  new products by introducing green initiatives.

Those who are ready to get their hands dirty will surely win big, now you know better and set to share the knowledge you have gained.

Green jobs now! Are you ready for a  greener economy?

But before you take up any of them, pause, analyze, reflect and do  self-evaluation of your skills, knowledge, and strength.

They may look juicy and easy at a glance, but their difficulty levels should not be underrated and shredded.

Ignorance should not be your forte. Don’t inure to excuses, anymore.

Are you ready to set sail with the knowledge you have gained? Let me know your biggest take home, leave a comment below.