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Insights Sustainable project management: what is it and how can you do it?

In our current climate, it’s hard to go a day without hearing or seeing some messaging around sustainability. But what does sustainable project management mean?

It’s about looking at a project through a new lens. For project managers, this means making decisions that are right for the company, its people, and society on the whole. Essentially, it’s about doing the right thing.

If there’s ever been a time to build a career for a sustainable future, it’s now. Net Zero initiatives are just one example of the direction the world is heading in, and project managers with an interest in protecting and enhancing environments will be the most attractive candidates on the job market.

Let’s take a look at why sustainable project management matters, and how you can do it.

image of a building with the reflection being of trees

What is sustainable project management?

Of the top 500 companies in the world, 71% are publicly disclosing their greenhouse gas emissions, among other energy metrics. Sustainability has become a business focus for all industries and organisations recognise that it’s not responsible to take a back seat on the matter.

But sustainable project management isn’t just a case of being green and tackling climate change. It’s a responsibility to ensure that resources are used responsibly, people are treated equally and paid a fair wage, and communities are factored into decisions. Project managers working in this realm will take a holistic approach, assessing the environmental, social and economic factors. They work alongside environmental planners, hydrogeologists and geotechnical engineers - just some of the environmental jobs that are redesigning our world for the better.

How the pandemic has fast-tracked sustainability progress

The pandemic brought to light new challenges and urgencies, exposing the truth that sustainability is the only way forward. In fact, the Boston Consulting Group found that 70% of people became more aware of the impact human activity has on the climate after the Covid-19 outbreak.

In a time of crisis, we turn to innovation. The world economic forum boldly states that sustainable infrastructure is the key to building a stronger economy in the post-pandemic world.

So how can you put sustainability at the heart of every project?

By using benchmarking tools such as the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), project managers can benchmark the impacts of their plans. The idea behind using benchmarking tools such as this one is to incorporate sustainability across the built environment lifecycle, right from the design stage. As a result, project managers can ensure that any development only enhances the environment and the wellbeing of those who live in it.

Building sustainability into a project plan

Project managers have the task of overseeing the project delivery and support processes. They will both aim to ensure that their client is satisfied while motivating their team to deliver excellence. That is the essence of a project management job.

Meanwhile, a project manager who has sustainability on their mind will take a more holistic approach. They'll factor in how they use resources, climate change mitigation, property rights, community involvement and human rights. It’s a multifaceted job, and when done right, you can have an enormous impact on societies. The project manager vision is to create value and complete a project both on time and on budget, but also execute it in a way that is ethical and fair.

Helping to protect natural resources is something that everyone can get involved in, right from the apprentice project managers, up to the senior project managers and project directors. Just in the way that protecting the environment is everyone’s responsibility, ensuring that a project is sustainable is a team effort.

Find your next project management job with us

Our project managers at the AtkinsRéalis Group are helping to transform society for future generations. Our environment is changing at a rapid pace, so we want to help build a world that we’re proud to pass on. Ensuring we meet the global deadline to be Net Zero by 2050 is everyone’s responsibility. We know this ambition comes with unique challenges and risks, which is why we build the very best teams and invest in our people.

Are you ready to take your skills and use them to help safeguard the planet for generations to come? Browse our current project management jobs.

If you're looking for more insight, you can learn more about our commitment to sustainability.