Principles & Values-Based: Conserving and Enhancing Natural Resources through Sustainable Project Management
In an era of environmental degradation and climate change, many individuals and organizations are looking for ways to contribute to conserving and regenerating our planet’s natural resources. For project managers, embracing sustainable practices is crucial in achieving this goal.
Continuing on the deep dive of our GPM Sustainable Project Management Principles, I will cover #4 Principles & Values-Based, which emphasizes the need to conserve and enhance natural resources by improving how we develop and use technologies and project resources. This principle recognizes the importance of balancing economic, environmental, and social sustainability concerns when carrying out projects.
Regenerative Development is an approach to sustainable development that goes beyond minimizing harm and tries to actively restore and renew natural systems. It seeks to create self-sustaining communities that generate more resources than they consume and to thereby enhance the well-being of all living things.The principle of Principles & Values-Based is based on this concept, focusing on project management.
For far too long, the focus has been on maximizing corporate profits, sometimes at the expense of the environment and the well-being of society. However, with the increasing frequency of natural disasters, climate change impacts, and substantial economic losses reported due to non-sustainable practices, businesses are now seeing the benefits of adopting sustainable project management principles.
Principles & Values-Based: Key Components
The Principles & Values-Based approach emphasizes using current technology to improve project efficiencies and reduce waste. The key components of this approach include:
1. Stakeholder Engagement
Stakeholders have become increasingly important in managing projects sustainably. Project managers must engage them early on to ensure the sustainability of the project’s goals and outcomes. This results in a more sustainable decision-making process by taking into account the interests of stakeholders – environmental, social and economic concerns.
2. Total Life Cycle Assessment
In this component, project managers must evaluate the sustainability implications of a project and resulting outcome (product) over its entire life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials used in creating the product, right through to the product’s end of useful life. This approach highlights the interconnectedness between the economy, environment, and social well-being.
3. Sustainable Procurement
This component requires project managers to consider sustainability in the procurement of goods and services. This means looking for suppliers with sustainable practices and using more efficient transportation methods to reduce the project’s carbon footprint.
4. Energy Efficiency
Project managers should opt to use energy-efficient processes to minimize the environmental impact. These processes may include using alternative energy sources, smart building systems or reducing energy usage by adopting energy saving practices.
5. Waste Minimization
Every project generates waste, but project managers need to ensure that they are minimizing this waste through practices such as recycling, reusing materials, and reducing waste generation.
Applying the Principles & Values-Based Approach
Applying Principles & Values-Based in project management is a process that takes viable input from different stakeholders through research, project design, and conclusion. The guidelines are not set in stone, meaning that project managers must customize sustainability practices to fit the needs of the respective project.
To apply this approach successfully, project managers need to engage experts who provide insight into sustainability best practices, alternative energy options and innovative product and process solutions. They can work with a sustainability coach or a consultant, lend expertise from similar projects, and engage local communities to ensure sustainability considerations reflect cultural values.
Interface Inc. An organization that puts it into practice.
One company that has embraced Principles & Values-Based is Interface Inc, the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpets. In the 1990s, the company’s founder, Ray Anderson, had a radical change of heart after reading Paul Hawken’s book “The Ecology of Commerce,” which made him realize the damage his company was causing to the environment. Anderson embarked on a journey to transform Interface into a sustainable business, with sustainability woven into its ethos of doing business.
Interface initiated its Mission Zero, a project focused on eliminating environmental impact from its operations by 2020, with the goal of creating a sustainable and viable business ecologically. Mission Zero’s initiative focuses on the five main areas of sustainability:
- Raw Materials: Interface’s carpets consist of natural and synthetic materials that are renewable, abundant, and pose no threat to human or ecosystem health.
- Waste: Interface developed a program known as ReEntry 2.0 – it seeks to retrieve and reuse end-of-life carpets to create new products.
- Energy: With the utilization of renewable energy sources such as wind and hydroelectric power, Interface is dedicated to being entirely self-sufficient when it comes to energy usage.
- Water: Interface is committed to treating wastewater beyond compliance requirements, utilizing waterless washing machines, and promoting water efficiency.
- Transportation: Interface strives to lower its carbon footprint by supporting public transportation and optimizing delivery routes.
Interface is a sustainability-oriented pioneer organization which exemplifies the Principles & Values-Based approach. It sets a precedent for other organizations to see what can be accomplished when sustainability is at the core of a company’s ethos.
It’s important that the project profession put this principle into practice not only for the benefit of the environment and future generations, but also for the long-term success of businesses and organizations. As we see companies like Interface Inc. demonstrate, sustainability can be a path towards innovation and success, and not a hindrance to profits.
By applying the Principles & Values-Based approach, we can make a difference in preserving and enhancing the natural resources of our planet for generations to come.