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Sustainable development was first proposed by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in its 1987 report Our Common Future (also known as the Brundtland Commission report). WCED included 23 members from 22 countries and was established by the United Nations in 1984, and for three years studied the conflicts between growing global environmental problems and the needs of less-developed nations.
WCED's widely used definition of sustainable development is:
"Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." (1)
The construction industry has been singled out as the focus of special attention since creating and running our built environment accounts for about half of all energy used and approximately half of all landfill. Following this issue many models has been invented to expand and implement the idea of sustainability model.http://www.ci.neenah.wi.us/assets/images/departments/sustainable-neenah-committee/sustainability-venn-diagram.gif
The widely accepted model is represented by three overlapping circles representing environmental, social and economical issues of sustainable development. It explains that sustainability is about achieving economic and social objectives while minimising adverse environmental impacts. An optimal balance of social, environmental and economic elements ensures the long-term success of any company.
Fig 1: The Venn diagram model.
Change in legislations
The need for guidance to help industry reduce the impact associated with construction and engineering projects has been developed and reviewed time to time. Policies addressing sustainable development and environmental issues arise at European Union, National and local level of government. For example, the new European Union sixth Environmental Action Plan (2001 to 2010) identifies four priority areas:
Nature and biodiversity
Environment and health
Natural resources and waste.
To achieve improvements in these areas researches and legislations are being imposed to meet the complex environmental challenges.
In the UK government has set up the sustainable Development commission (CDC) in autumn 2000, under the chairmanship of Jonathan porritt. The SDM is a combination of two bodies which were set up in the aftermath of the Earth Summit at Rio de Jeneiro. The key policy document is A Better Quality of life: A strategy for sustainable development in the United Kingdom. The strategy focuses on the important contribution the construction industry can make to the achievement of sustainable development by:
Being more profitable and more competitive.
Delivering buildings and structures that provide greater satisfaction, well-being and value to customers and users.
Respecting stakeholders and treating them more fairly.
Enhancing and better protecting the natural environment.
Minimising its impact on the consumption of energy (especially carbon- based energy) and natural resources. (2)
The government has also imposed various means of achieving sustainability development by imposing legislations like the Landfill tax(1996), Climate change Levy(2001) and Aggregate levy(2002), The Energy performance of building regulation (2007) and The climate change act(2008).
Thus many leading clients, including the government, are starting to demand better environmental and social performance from the construction supply chain, imposing major new challenges and responsibilities upon the project managers. The government has also made it clear that increased regulatory controls are likely if the construction under-performs sustainability wise. Thus the legislation is changing and very likely to keep changing in future which would add more responsibilities to a project manager's roles.
The changing role of project manager
"All is change, nothing is permanent" (3)
This quotation is nearly 2500 years old and from that time there has been nothing permanent except the change itself. Thus a project manager should be ready to respond to changes and adopt their remedies for identifying and managing change.
Business that fail to meet the sustainable development requirement will find their activity constrained and challenged by local objections and thus in modern time it is important that the project manager should be able to address and solve every issues associated with sustainable development.
Due to the recent changes in legislations and requirements, a project manager can find that the environmental management system takes time and resources to establish, run and review. The best results for sustainability and environmental issues in modern time can be achieved by approaching design and planning in new ways. So it can be said that the project manager should think outside the box. The development in new procurement methods is being increasingly popular to improve quality, value and to allocate risk in the best managed way. But it is also vital to adopt the appropriate strategy from a sustainability perspective. Even more important is the need to identify and realise the distinct opportunities for delivering sustainable projects that are associated with different procurement routes. Thus project manager in present should select the consultants and contractors with tried and tested level of commitment and experience who has also the potential to add sustainability value to the project which is the critical part of any procurement.
There are eight sets of Key Action a project manager should follow for managing the sustainable construction projects in present time:
Ensure that anyone involved in the project are aware of, understand and equipped to deliver the environmental objective of the project.
Identify the environmental and sustainability goals. E.g. compliance with legislation
Decide how you are going to achieve a sustainable project.
Ensure you understand the context of project
Decide how you will evaluate how sustainable your construction project is.
Control the project at every stage of the project cycle.
Ensure you will meet obligatory performance targets for the project.
Define non-obligatory performance targets of the project.
However as far as sustainability issues are concerned, there isn't any particular procurement route that stands out as being clearly or consistently better than any other. Success is more dependent on the clear guidance from the client, effective management of the project and good understanding and sharing of environmental goals among the design and construction teams.
Thus to meet the sustainability goals, a project manager should consider best selection of project teams by following the following procedures
Consulting a similar type of client who has experience of environmental issues on projects.
Employ environmental specialist who have good experience on environmentally-responsible projects (e.g. low-energy and naturally ventilated buildings). Agree a precise scope and programme of work including production of reports, assessments, etc.
Approach consultants and ask for their recommendations about other specialist whom they have worked and who have demonstrated their understanding of environmental issues.
Ask prospective contractors, at the pre-qualification stage, to comments on issues such as:
The method of selection of sub contractor or specialist
The strategic and project brief.
The use of specialist methods and materials
Environmental risk assessment and management
Skanska is a one of the responsible company in terms of achieving sustainability on projects. Every year they produce a report which includes all three areas of sustainable development - social, environmental and economic. In 2000 all business units were certified according to the ISO 14001 environmental standard and in early 2002 they introduced the Skanska Code of Conduct. In 2006, Skanska started using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) as its guiding Sustainability framework. Using this generic agenda, Skanska has developed its own Sustainability Agenda to better focus strategies and actions that balance the never-ending trade-off between Economic, Social and Environmental considerations.
The latest environmental strategy (2008-2010) focuses on four priorities which are broken down into six High Level Actions which in turn lead to Strategic Objectives, Key Performance Indicators and Targets for delivery in the period 2008-2010. The Environmental Strategy is delivered under the Skanska Environmental Management System, certified to ISO 14001.
Fig 2: Skanska environmental strategy
The Skanska has an environmental monitoring body called Environmental Performance Network (EPN) which meets every 2 years for continual improvement across all Business Units. Thus they set out changes and implementing challenges which is very real and highly demanding. So success or failure lies in the hands of the project manager who would experience continual changes in his roles.
Thus it is clear that change is inevitable and the roles of project manager have changed time to time due to high demand in better environmental and social performance from the construction supply chain, imposing major new challenges and responsibilities. The government has also made it clear that increased regulatory controls are likely if the construction under-performs sustainability wise which will contribute to more change in project manager's role in future. Thus a project manager should be able to recognise growing concerns about environmental and social responsibilities and turn these concerns to business advantage by integrating them into the existing management framework.