The world is going green and it appears that South Africa is starting to get the message as well. We are collectively realising that we do not have the unlimited amount of resources to utilise as we did in the past. The pending concern about global warming merely serves as a rallying point for an environmental movement that has been underway since the 1970s. Some of the ways that we demonstrate our support for the environment, are through recycling programs, energy conservation, vehicle choice, public transport use, natural farming methods and many more. However, project management seems to be in its infancy in applying green standards.
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At first glance, it appears that any project team could take steps to recycle and reduce the use of its resources. This may include reducing the amount of documentation that is printed, and where companies have invested in enterprise project management systems, leveraging these systems and any workflow capabilities to receive approvals (e.g. on project charters or scope change requests). Project team members may be required to shut off computers and printers nightly if this reduces electricity use.
We believe that this is the beginning of getting project teams, sponsors, key stakeholders and others to think green about each project. Green project management is a concept in its infancy, with a goal of incorporating an organisation’s environmental aspects into project management processes. It is a model where we think green throughout our project, and make decisions that take into account the impacts on the environment.
The point about green project management is not that we make every decision in favour of the one that is most environmentally friendly. Rather, that we start to take the environment into account instead of ignoring it. You might make most decisions the same as you do today, but there might be some decisions you would make differently.
This document was written on the basis of the International Organisation for Standardisation’s ISO 14000 family of standards. These were developed for organisations to operate in way that sustains the environment. We then investigate how green-think can be applied to project management in support of aligning with these standards.