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An academic conversation has emerged on the relation between project

management and sustainability (Silvius and Schipper, 2014), which we would like
to continue and enrich in this article.
There are several relations between managing projects and sustainability, such
1) The specifics of managing sustainability projects: projects and programs
are used for introducing sustainable development into an organization,
specific management challenges exist in this change projects/programs.
2) Integrating sustainability principles into managing project and programs:
projects and programs are managed in a way that supports the creation of
sustainable outcomes. This implies redesigning and enriching project
management practices, specifically risk management and stakeholder
3) The concept of sustainable development is value based and relates to the
behaviors and competences of the project and program management
professionally, such as project managers, project owners, program
managers and program owners, project teams and program teams.
The aim is to explore how the changes that relate to the concerns for
sustainability are changing the profession of project management.
Given the challenges that face society, sound academic knowledge is about

Module learning outcomes that will be assessed:

1) Critically appraise the drivers for incorporating sustainability into projects
and project management
2) Derive and establish the benefits of adopting sustainable practices in the
management of projects
3) Critically evaluate a range of approaches to incorporating sustainability
principles into the management of projects.

1.0 Introduction
The concept of sustainable project management is an emerging trend rapidly
gaining importance and recognition from both practitioners and academics in the
last 15 years (Silvius & Schipper, 2014; Silvius, et al., 2012). The purpose of this
work is to explore how the changes that relate to the concerns for sustainability
are changing the profession of project management. It will first analyse the
drivers and benefits of adopting sustainable practices in project management
and finally, evaluate a range of approaches to incorporating sustainability
principles into the management of projects.


Concept of sustainability

There are various comment about how sustainability comes about but one of the
most widely referred to definitions is by World Commission on Environment and
Development in the Brundtland Report. Sustainability in the context of
sustainable development means development that meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
needs. This care for the future implies the need to change the way human live,
consume, and produce wisely in order to enhance, if not maintain, our
environment. Aside putting emphasis on environment aspects, Elkington pointed
out that social and economic aspects are equally important and emphasised on
the pursuit of balanced development between economic, environment and
society. Human basic needs and economic activities rely heavily on natural
resources but they are limited. If natural resources are depleted, both social and
economy will be deeply affected. Oil and price spike in 2008 are good examples.
Predominant business model that focuses only on financial profit maximisation
without consideration towards environment and natural resources and the effect
of destruction has led to substantial negative impacts on people and society,
from the massive layoffs to ___ (Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists,
Criminal Pseudo-Scientists ... By Robert Zubrin, As a result, many
researchers are advocating the integration of sustainability in business activities.

1.2 Sustainability application in projects, project management and

project managers
Why business activities? because project is about making changes/ instrument of
change. Projects can make a contribution on the sustainable development of
organisations. It should therefore be expected that the concepts of sustainability
are reflected in projects and project management (Silvius & Schipper, 2010).
Therefore, there is no other options to integrate project management than in
projects. This puts the responsibility on project manager to have the knowledge
skill and competence to work on sustainability. It also change the traditional way
project manager works and the process of the whole project. Many activities are
undertaken in the form of projects by organisations to create change, realise
their intended benefits and achieve business strategies (Kenny, 2003). And this
requires project management. Hence, the concept of sustainability has more
recently been linked to project management while sustainability (Silvius &

Schipper, 2010). However, sustainable project management and traditional

project management are in contrast to some extent (Daneshpour, 2015).
Sustainable project management
Long term and short term oriented
In interest of both current and future
Life cycle oriented
People, planet, profit
Increasing complexity

Traditional project management

Short term oriented
In the interest of stakeholders
Deliverable oriented
Scope, time, budget
Reduced complexity

(Silvius & Schipper, 2014) identified the impact of sustainability in project

management. It is a mind shift, paradigm shift and scope shift. They concluded
that sustainability impacts basically all processes and practices of project
The impact of the principles of sustainability on projects and project
management showed that these principles shift the scope of project
management expand its boundaries and make it essential that project managers
to take responsibility of the results of their project in a full life cycle/including the
sustainability aspect of that result (Daneshpour, 2015).
Therefore new tools and techniques have to be developed (Fernndez-Snchez &
Rodrguez-Lpez, 2010).

2.0Drivers for incorporating sustainability into projects

and project management
2.1 The pressure Government environmental regulations and
Environmental degradation affects business as usual (projects)
Global sustainability issues as a result of human activities have already had
observable effects on the planet and society. Climate change, economic
recession, resource scarcity, biodiversity loss and energy security, among others,
have raised public awareness the need to change the way human live, consume,
and produce in order to be more sustainable towards our earth.

Climate change, more storms, extreme temperatures and colder winters,

weather can affect business, eg agriculture, food supply and security, in addition
to that resources such as raw materials and energy, increase in construction
cost, increase in commodity prices, pass on down the line to the consumers,
inflation, political unrest, social issues, economic slowdown, economic issues,
this affects business as usual and this needs change.
Business activities are often run in the form of projects. Therefore project
management and project managers are crucial for success. Organisations and
their projects, projects are the game changer and that means project
management must integrate sustainability.

Aside from the environment, the awareness of government, education and

organisations (of project management) increases. Tax incentives. Examples. All
of these pushes corporate leaders and hence influence project activities.
Under the pressure of government and economy and resources restraint,
competition increases. Sooner or later every business will pay attention to
sustainability in order to stay in business. The reputation and images, the
savings, employee retention, new revenue opportunities.
Humans would be at fault if no changes are made to cope with since we are at


The push Stakeholders profit and competition

Mulder (2006) suggested three kinds of benefits through economic value creation
in terms of both product performance and production costs; improvements to
companys reputation and image, which is not only externally important but also
internally as the motivation of employees is affected; and the increasing
companys coherence that effects increasing effectiveness and flexibility.
(Silvius, et al., 2012) by assessing the integration of sustainability concepts in
the way organisations initiate, develop and manage projects using maturity
models, they observed that organisations, particularly westerns, show
eagerness in taking sustainability into consideration although their best interest
is in profit first then environment and social.


The support Corporate social responsibility


The pull Demand and reputation

Drivers are important as they become the prime reason for the organisations and
therefore project management to become sustainable (Tufinio, et al., 2013).
(Labuschagne & Brent, 2005) defined the drivers for implementing sustainability
in organisations in four types.
Undoubtedly, sustainability in project management is inevitable a future must
have skill.

Environmentally, internally and externally

Economically, internally and externally

Socially, internally and externally

4.0Critically evaluate a range of approaches to

incorporating sustainability principles into the
management of projects.
As shown in the drivers, organisations nowadays are keen on to include
sustainability in their business or projects. Project management can help make
this process a success but little guidance is available on how to apply
sustainability to specific projects (Marcelino-Sdaba, et al., 2015). This may be
due to sustainability touches upon too many dimensions (refer to Pope).
Therefore, academics and researchers have been keen in propose, research and
develop new techniques, tools, frameworks and approaches for sustainable
project management (Daneshpour, 2015).
How can we know project is sustainable? How is a sustainable project defined?
How to manage a project sustainably?
(Fernndez-Snchez & Rodrguez-Lpez, 2010) identified that one of the biggest
problems when measuring sustainability is to identify sustainability indicators
and to select an indicator set. They hence based on ISO and at an operational
level using risk management techniques to propose a methodology to identify
sustainability indicators in project management for measuring and controlling
sustainability opportunities in the context of construction.
(Brook & Pagnanelli, 2014) proposed a 5 steps framework for integrating
sustainability in the innovation project portfolio management process in the field
of product development. They also highlighted the importance of governance.
The 5 steps are strategic analysis, split of resources among strategic innovation
buckets, evaluation and mapping of projects into the strategic innovation
buckets, prioritization and selection of sustainability driven innovation projects,
and finally performance management of the innovation project portfolio over
(Daneshpour, 2015) divided tools and techniques for assessing sustainability into
three main categories. The first one is indices that can help to assess
sustainability in a project. The second is product related assessment tools that
assess flows related to the production and consumption of goods and services.
Life cycle assessment is one of the most important tools in this group. The third
is integrated assessment tools that are utilised in policy or project evaluation to
achieve a more comprehensive approach.
(Silvius & Schipper, 2010) presented a maturity model for the assessment of the
integration of the concepts of sustainability in projects and project management.
(Martens & Carvalho, n.d.) systemised a conceptual framework of sustainability
in project management oriented to success
(Marcelino-Sdaba, et al., 2015) presented the state of the art for sustainability
in project management from the project managers perspective an to propose a

new conceptual framework to contribute towards sustainable management of

the project, leading to sustainable results in the context of industry and civil
engineering projects.
There are multiple ways to implement sustainability, however they all pursue the
alignment to the triple bottom line of sustainability and to create value in the
organisation based on the sustainable principles.
While much effort has been given in my academics and researchers in the
development of sustainable project management bridging the gap of lack of
standards in project management to incorporate sustainability agenda,
sustainability is a holistic___ and