How Project Management can help reduce the impact of climate change

As modern societies are increasingly becoming conscious of climate change, businesses, both big and small, are trying to reduce the greater impact it has on the environment. In order to tackle global warming, it only makes sense for those with an environmental conscience to adopt planet-friendly practices in the office, as well as at home.

Projects Management consultants can play a big role in enabling developers to brace new age techniques that promote sustainable development. Traditionally, the role of project manager involved planning, preparing, scheduling, and monitoring the construction. Since there are numerous agencies involved, it is also the job of a project manager to coordinate the works with numerous agencies and stakeholders and make sure that the project gets delivered in time and within the approved budgets.

With the world moving to brace environment-friendly construction, projects managers will have to push for minimising waste and maximizing reuse.

Environmentalism and sustainability

At last year's 2012 PMI Global Congress – North America, Professor Arvinder P.S. Loomba shared a famous sustainability framework. Citing a 2006 paper from the World Conservation Union Council, Loomba shares the model, commonly known as the three pillars of sustainable development. As per this model, environmentalism is simply one part of sustainability. To ensure that all aspects of sustainability are factored in, it is important to engage a project manager in the initial stages itself.

Another big change that project managers can drive is in terms of energy saving. Since the mid-20th century, the main mode for supplying cooling and ventilation to people in indoor environments has been through central air conditioning systems. Structures or buildings of all types are one of the biggest sources of CO2 emissions. According to the World Green Building Council, the lighting, heating and cooling of buildings is responsible for around 28 per cent of global CO2.

In order to reduce the load capacity and cut down CO2 emissions, project manager along with the designers can make provisions for natural ventilation and increase day lighting. This along with the intent to make sensible choice such as properly turning off electrical office equipment or bulbs and fans at home when they are not in use can go a big way in cutting down electricity consumption. From lighting to laptops, coffee machines to phone chargers, the savings can add up.

Last year, researchers in the US came out with a new type of white paint that has the potential to cool buildings and reduce the reliance on air conditioning. In a study, the new product was able to reflect 95.5 per cent of sunlight and reduce temperatures by 1.7C compared to the ambient air conditions. The engineers involved have stated that the impact is achieved by adding different-sized particles of calcium carbonate. Project managers are well aware of innovative and cost-effective ideas and can incorporate them.

Recycling our way to the better future

Waste disposal methods have also been pertinent in incorporating sustainability in our everyday lives. Recycling serves to transform the wastes into products of their own genre through industrial processing. Paper, glass, aluminium, and plastics are commonly recycled. It is environmentally friendly to reuse the wastes instead of adding them to nature. However, processing technologies tend to be expensive.

Tackling air pollution

On the other hand, air pollution is another factor that has been drastically causing climate change all over the globe. Daily activities by the people largely contribute to this. The best way to improve indoor air quality is to eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce their emissions. Environmentalists have long suggested that sources that contain asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed; others, like gas stoves, can be adjusted to decrease the number of emissions. In many cases, source control is also a more cost-efficient approach to protecting indoor air quality than increasing ventilation because increasing ventilation can increase energy costs.

If involved at the right time, projects managers can look into the finer intricacies and develop projects that are constructed keeping environmental, social, and economic aspects in mind.