A Quick Guide to Incorporating Sustainability Into Your Projects

Headshot of Jennifer Tharp

As the global community works to solve its biggest challenges, projects will increasingly become the canvas for designing innovative solutions and driving positive change. Customers, employees, shareholders, government bodies and the broader community of stakeholders will all focus a critical eye on projects and scrutinize them for alignment with environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. ESG will also become crucially important for business outcomes as demands for action increase. Project professionals will need to understand the factors that contribute to a sustainable focus and apply measurable criteria to assess outcomes.  

Get started with this brief guide to understanding the factors that contribute to maintaining a sustainable focus and how they affect your projects.


Maintaining a Sustainable Focus

Incorporating Sustainability Into Project Management Practices

Promoting ESG will increase the number of stakeholders of a project, and it is incumbent on the project manager to identify and engage all parties that will be impacted. Typically, these include environmental and human rights advocacy groups, nongovernmental organizations and investors. Forming collaborative partnerships is one way to acquire the buy-in of these “sustainability stakeholders.” The project manager also benefits from this direct engagement because they gain powerful expertise outside their traditional domain, which strengthens not just the project but also their enterprise as a whole. 

Developing these power skills and knowledge of ESG can also serve to advance your career.

In the current highly competitive labor environment, organizations must provide opportunities to improve employee competencies, support positive team interactions, and create a workplace that enhances project performance. Organizations also need to look at the broader picture and evaluate human resource implications in the larger community and over the life cycle of the project. This sustainable focus means addressing such factors as work-life balance; training and skills development; diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I); ethics; and transparency. Project managers who are aware of these factors have the power to influence by raising them directly to management or addressing them as they are able to within the confines of the project.

Triangle image about sustainability

Effective management of resources takes on heightened importance as sustainability practices are integrated into the organization and throughout the life cycle of the project. Incorporating the principles of sustainability in the project charter will help define the result, conditions and success factors of the project. Project managers are often well-positioned to look at the entire supply and value chain and envision a more favorable environmental footprint by taking measures to reduce consumption of resources and lessen waste production. Supplier relationships and contracts should become more transparent and incorporate measurable sustainability criteria. 


This article has been adapted from a conference paper by Jennifer Tharp, PMP, chair, 2022 PMI Board of Directors.

Find more information on how to incorporate ESG into your projects in PMI’s ESG Resource Hub

Deliver Meaningful ESG Results

PMI’s Measuring the Impact of ESG Initiatives report explores how project leaders can help organizations make ESG goals a reality.

Read Measuring ESG >>