September 22, 2008, 8:13 AM — Ever since the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development was signed during the 1992 Earth Summit, a lot of attention has been given to the importance of sustainable development. Four years after the Rio declaration, the International Organization for Standardization established ISO 1400 to address the operational standards that relate to the environment. The standard was updated in 2004 to meet the environmental challenges companies face in the 21st century. Compliance to the new standard is voluntary, but more companies have since applied for certification and invited their partners and vendors to do the same.
ISO14001:2004 provides a set of requirements that guide the development of businessesâ€™ Environmental Management System (EMS) standards. EMS guides an organization on how to conduct business in an environmentally sustainable manner. As the technology field grew many-fold in the past decade, it is inevitable for its players to be aware of the impact of their operations on the environment, as well as to establish management standards that promote environmental awareness. Some tech companies changed energy consumption patterns, while others even redesigned their buildings and facilities to take advantage of natural lighting or to use solar power.
In the 21st century, being green, as the saying goes, is in. This also gave birth to â€œGreen Project Managementâ€ or Green PM, which fuses environment-friendly standards with project management methodologies and processes. Note that GreenPM should be guided by an organizationâ€™s EMS and considers various operational elements, such as responsibilities, authorities, procedures, and resources.
Practitioners of ISO14001:2004 have only seen the tip of the iceberg since the standard is fairly recent. At the operational level, simple activities, from saving PDF copies of documents instead of printing on paper, using energy-efficient computers and office fixtures, such as lighting, are factored in for getting a compliance certificate. But however simple the solutions maybe, these small steps can reduce carbon footprint when taken by various companies that employ anywhere from a dozen to thousands of employees.
Tom Mochal, President of TenStep, Inc., a methodology consultancy company, recommends smart energy consumption as a consideration in project management processes. Identifying proper equipment, scheduling activities, and allocating resources are simple things that add up over time. This has bigger impact for firms that have multinational presence.
Vendors management also affect the way project teams approach their impact on the environment as the latter can include green thinking in their list of expectations from vendors. This works in various ways. ISO 14001-compliant organizations are encouraged to publish their certifications, and then invite their customers and partners to do the same. This promotes a better image for the company, as well as awareness among stakeholders.
Because green project management is still in its infancy, it offers many opportunities for companies to explore the possibilities of aligning project management methodologies with the need to take care of the environment. What is important at this point is to promote the idea that project delivery can be done in ways that have minimum impact on the environment.
ExecutiveBrief, the technology management resource for business leaders, offers articles loaded with proven tips, techniques, and action plans that companies can use to better manage people, processes and tools â€“ the keys to improving their business performance.