Part 2: Leading Green Projects


You will meet many challenges

As project manager, you might face many challenges when you are leading projects with either high or low ambitions on sustainability.

Resistance towards sustainable solutions might come from multiple sides. You might be facing a project owner / customer, who considers sustainability expensive and time consuming. You might indeed be challenged by economic and time considerations and feel forced to implement solutions you are familiar with, and whose result you feel you are within your control.

Finally, you might have specialists in your team, who also prefer solutions to be business-as-usual. So, the challenge of using project management to ensure more sustainable solutions in our projects can be huge.

This article is part of an article series linked to the collaboration in a Tx3 on sustainability facilitated by Lasse Borris Sørensen – read more here

Start with the project owner / customer

To ensure more focus on sustainable solutions in our projects, it is important to initiate dialogue with the project owner or the customers about their level of ambition and the potentials of a given project in the sustainability area.

This initial dialogue might aim to investigate whether there are relevant issues of concern within the areas of Environment, Economy or Social related to the project. Many companies now have a sustainability agenda, and just by asking to have that dialogue you may learn what is important and how this can be integrated into the project.

Some project organisations use dialogue tools to ensure all potential areas are addressed up front. It allows the project manager to gain more knowledge about the values of the project owners or customers. Perhaps even learn where they see themselves in coming years. This can give valuable insights and may help in identifying important areas of the sustainability journey, which are relevant for the actual project. It is valuable to have a sustainability expert involved in this early dialogue, to make an early screening for possibilities.

Is it expensive?

One possible hurdle, the project owner expects sustainable solutions to be more expensive and time consuming to develop. If the values are clear and the ambitions are set – the decision to become more sustainable – even if it requires more investments in the short term – is easier to make. And again – Sustainability covers many other aspects where choosing the right solution does not affect the project economy – so engage a sustainability lead to screen the project before initiating it, and you will get the opportunity to think and incorporate solutions from the start.

Organising the project

Many large projects have discipline leads or work package owners responsible for a specific area within the project. In the same way, there must be a Sustainability Lead in the project management team and Green Ambassadors within each discipline. The Sustainability lead has the overall responsibility for the sustainability initiatives of the project and for the communication about this both within the project team and towards the project owner. The Green Ambassadors are specialists within their professional areas AND have hands on experiences with the possibilities for increasing sustainability within that area.

We need maximum impact

Worldwide the time of promises is now to be followed by years of execution. Incredible numbers of projects are to be executed and Danish companies as well as the Danish public sector is in a unique position to contribute.

Many facets of project managers will come into play, and we encourage you to step into leadership positions and redefine the project manager role to focus on sustainable as well as profitable outcomes.

For this you will need partnerships, a certain flexibility of mind, the ability to be innovative, and a talent for forging a diverse group of people into the best team for the job.
Calling for outside experts is more than ever the wise choice. So, step up and start reaching out. You may even enjoy an exciting line of projects along the way.

We need maximum impact.


Denne artikel blev udgivet i DPL Magasinet #2023-1 d. 7. september 2023. DPL Magasinet er et fysisk medlemsblad man som DPL-medlem modtager. Du kan læse om alle de mange tilbud du får som medlem af Dansk Projektledelse her. Læs baggrunden og historien bag artiklen her.

Lene Juel Jensen