Project Management Institute

The power of green



Elaine Aye
is a principal at Green Building
Services, a sustainable design
consulting firm based in
Portland, Oregon, USA.

Sustainable design is an evolving movement, and project management is playing a greater role in meeting quality standards. A key component of green projects is integrated design, which leverages the expertise of multiple disciplines such as architecture, engineering and contracting to devise comprehensive building solutions. Because no scope of work previously existed for managing integrated green projects, Green Building Services (GBS) is creating a process that helps clients identify, coordinate, implement and document sustainable features.

Considering that at any given time, GBS has more than 100 projects in process, there is a tremendous flow of information in and out of the office, making structure, accountability and tracking essential. Various regional climates, jurisdictional requirements and incentives, as well as differing guidelines and swiftly emerging technologies can cause our clients' needs to change dramatically in just one day; project management helps GBS communicate required changes to our clients. We must provide excellent deliverables to operate in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

We recognized the need to make project management an enterprise-wide endeavor and began recruiting individuals with demonstrated project management expertise and not just knowledge of green buildings.

In 2006, we implemented a web-based project management platform to help manage workflow and track issues. The software allows us to follow an individual employee's performance, reduce costs, and meet project budgets and timelines. It also makes the process transparent for our clients. This, in turn, generates success stories and encourages additional green projects.

As a delivery-oriented organization that interfaces directly with clients, we require a staff of diverse personalities. We have project consultants who provide vision and help clients identify the best strategies, project managers and project coordinators who handle the day-to-day project issues, and technical consultants who bring expertise in daylighting analysis, energy modeling and building commissioning.

Not surprisingly, only a minority of these personalities has intuitive project management skills. As our firm expanded, we recognized the need to make project management an enterprise-wide endeavor and began recruiting individuals with demonstrated project management expertise and not just knowledge of green buildings. Our internal project managers now have the skills to better process incoming information, distill it to team members and ensure excellent and timely product delivery.

Emphasis on professional development is one of our company's priorities and a key area of continuous improvement. We seek out internal and external opportunities to disseminate an understanding of project management throughout the organization.

Implementing project management methods is helping us attain greater visibility of our workloads and workflow processes. By adopting project management protocols, our teams are becoming more precise in the way they approach and plan work.

Greater efficiency gives us more time to focus on quality. For example, we provide our clients with comprehensive project assessments at three pivotal points: the preliminary design, design development and construction document phases. We're continuing to streamline our assessment process, which makes us better able to inform the project team throughout the green certification process. This allows for earlier course corrections that not only save time but also produce higher-quality results. PM

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