We must address environmental and societal issues in a way that also delivers bottom-line results.
Have you heard? The single-cup coffee maker may be the biggest drip to ever come along in sustainable project management. The machine, most notably manufactured by Keurig, has been known to cause physical harm to consumers, adds tons of garbage to landfills with its one-time, non-recyclable coffee containers, and, on average, uses far more energy than the traditional drip coffee makers of days gone by. And sadly, this product’s popularity is on the rise because it focuses solely on consumer desire, giving little thought to green initiatives.
Despite Keurig’s issues, there are numerous companies across many industries that realize making sustainability a required and measured part of the project management process will deliver environmental and social benefits to consumers while reaping huge financial benefits for their own organization.
L’Oreal is a perfect example of a company that understands the benefits of making green initiatives a priority throughout the life of a product’s development. The company’s project managers look at sustainability across the entire life cycle, including assessing the impact of the ingredients, manufacturing, distribution, consumer use and end of life disposal. One of the greatest sustainability challenges the company faces is procuring raw material for their cosmetic line. They meet this challenge head on with a structured project management framework that examines each raw material across five areas: consumer and employee health, environmental protection, protection of biodiversity, fair trade and respect for human rights.
Currently L’Oreal sells its line of products in 130 markets worldwide and hopes to broaden its consumer base over the next 10 years. To do this, the company realizes a sustainable approach will become even more essential in order to meet societal changes as well as raise their own bar on environmental performance.
Fujitsu, a leading provider of IT products and services, takes a holistic approach to project development. Project managers use a set of specific metrics when moving forward on any project. The criteria measured are the amount of resources to be used, what the impact will be on the environment, and the total carbon footprint of the project itself.
Their project management sustainability framework focuses on reducing emissions, lowering energy use and producing less waste. Team leaders play a critical role in incorporating these goals into project processes. By aligning the project’s plan with Fujitsu’s sustainability values, a deliverable outcome is ensured.
The company takes supply chain sustainability one step further by regularly guiding clients on how to meet their own sustainability goals. For example, Fujitsu recently worked with their client Toyota to develop eco-friendly IT strategies to ensure Toyota meets their own energy-efficiency goals.
Furniture giant Herman Miller believes in sustainability so much, if one of their projects doesn’t meet expectations, that project is immediately cancelled. But before a project even begins, the company ensures it meets important sustainability criteria, mainly zero landfill, zero hazardous waste generation, zero air emissions, zero process water use, 100% green electrical energy use, Minimum LEED silver certification for all construction, and 100% of sales from DfE-approved products.
Project managers are responsible for ensuring the company’s product output meets these lofty goals. They do this by finding innovative solutions through value chain engagement and, in the end, deliver sustainable products to the marketplace.
In 1997, Herman Miller began following Cradle to Cradle – or C2C – design. This methodology of sustainable design ensures the materials used in a product’s development are not harmful to the environment or people, and can either be recycled, remanufactured, or composted.
There’s no denying that sustainability is a business reality. Modern project managers must find ways to address environmental and societal issues in a way that also delivers bottom-line results. Those companies willing to take on this challenge have the opportunity to see tremendous business growth and increased ROI for years to come.