What Do Project Managers Have to Do with Sustainability?

Project Management Institute

There is growing interest in the topic of sustainability and its impact on policy makers’ agendas, strategic investment decisions within large corporations and professional codes of ethics (including concepts of environmental and economic sustainability and social inclusion).

Sustainability requires changes in traditional practices and paradigms of production for its successful implementation. These changes in today’s society are typically managed as projects and delivered by dedicated project managers, who are assumed to have the knowledge and skills to take account of the social, financial, political, cultural and environmental impact and sustainability of a project. As such, project managers play an important role in accomplishing sustainability, but we need a better understanding on how to achieve this.

While projects and project managers are important variables in the sustainability agenda, there is a paradox: How can a time-bound activity such as a project (by definition temporary and unique)[1] be reconciled with sustainability objectives that are typically set in an unspecified but remote future?

Indeed, in practical terms, how much influence could a project manager have incorporating sustainable practices into projects? How should project stakeholders (e.g., clients, contractors, designers, consultants) collaborate to successfully achieve the …

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