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How to reduce your project’s carbon footprint

In December I looked at how to reduce your project’s carbon footprint and provided a few ideas you could take into consideration when you’re working on a project.

One of the questions I got asked on that article was how have I seen these sustainability practices implemented effectively in projects?

Sustainability practices are easier to implement if there is corporate-wide mandated practices and the expectation that you will manage your project and create products in a sustainable way, but let me share a little of my experience.

carbon footprint mindmap

Carbon savings

When working out project benefits, include carbon saving as one of the metrics you will track, as long as your project does something that will reduce carbon. This could be by digitalizing a process so less paper is used, removing paper cups from coffee machines and replacing them with a ‘bring your own reusable cup’ policy in your project office or something else.

I’m aware that digital solutions also have a carbon footprint in that they use energy and land as there are vast data centres behind the scenes of every virtual meeting, so you’ll have to draw your own conclusions about whether the savings you are claiming are ‘real’ or not.

Many companies are now very much focused on energy saving and the equivalent carbon saving this equates to, so someone in your organization is likely to be able to tell you what measures are used in the business to track and report on carbon usage. Talk to your energy manager or the sustainability team if you have one, or someone in Finance who could help you work out what, if any, carbon savings you can reasonably track.

Ideally, the project’s deliverables would have a benefit that demonstrates carbon reduction, but if not, you could look to track carbon usage related to managing the project itself, for example, you could track number of journeys that did not happen because you chose to meet virtually instead.

Paper usage and waste recycling

A very small thing you can do on your project is to make sure that the team does not use excessive paper. Stop printing project board decks and meeting agendas. Make these available on digital solutions instead.

Use digital thank you cards instead of real ones (although you’ll have to weigh up the value in a digital one – some how for me, a physical card feels like it means more).


I mentioned avoiding meetings where the journey would create a carbon emission – see how much travel it is possible to cut out of your project. There’s probably some.

Supply chain

Even if your project is not buying anything in terms of goods, there are probably some items that you end up procuring, for example, lunches for workshops. Choose local suppliers using locally-sourced products.

Ask questions of your suppliers and see if there are choices to be made.

Document your decisions

The easiest way to make sure that you are living your goals and managing to make a carbon impact is to ensure your project management plan and documentation includes the commitment. Put your metrics in your benefits tracker. Put targets in the quality plan.

Make sure your schedule includes any specific actions you are going to do as a team. What other suggestions do you have for reducing your carbon footprint as a project team? Let us know in the comments section below!

Posted on: January 24, 2024 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)