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APM - The Heat is on to Net Zero

Project Professionals across every sector will have a critical role to play in reaching net zero emissions by 2050. These are the words of Emma De Vita, Editor of APMs Project Magazine, in an article published in the winter 2021 edition, entitled ‘The Heat is On’.

This article provides a summary of Emma De Vita’s publication.

The message is clear. There is no time to lose in our transition to sustainable energy decarbonisation if we are to curtail temperature rises to 1.5°C by 2100. When there is no silver bullet to the climate problems we face every effort everywhere counts, from working on projects with climate change mitigation at their core to simply making every project you work on more sustainable.

The question is, how any project can be made greener by reducing waste, waste always has a carbon footprint, so being more focussed on eliminating waste is vitally important and that comes from making sure that you’re doing the right thing (Andrew Wright Director of Dynamic Technologies and Co-Chair of APM’s Systems Thinking SIG).

Systems thinking can help achieve this. Systems thinking is about understanding how that problem is interacting with everything else, how the solution will fix the problem and how that solution will interact with everything else.

If you work on a business change project you have to get the green benefits into the upfront costing and benefits model. E.g. if you introduce high efficiency low power lighting you're reducing the amount of electricity being used, you’re eliminating waste.


In order to appreciate the longer term value you have to be thinking more long term.


It is our habits, prejudices and values which stop us thinking this way. A challenge as big in scale as climate requires collaborative long term big thinking. To get around this you have to educate people by tapping into their psyche, not their professional side but draw out the benefits of working in this different way to them as a person.

Jason Sprague, principle of Sprague & Co suggests that being lean is key. This can be achieved by actively reducing consumption. If you consume you are dealing with issues of sustainability because by consuming you are creating.


We can’t consume our way into being net zero.


It comes down to designing and managing projects to be as lean as possible. In project contracts this comes down to incentivising supply chain not to consume virgin metals, for example.

Each organisation needs to own the carbon it is responsible for, argues Sprague. That is the whole lifecycle of their fleet, their asset and of those employed to work on and to maintain it. There’s a lot of hidden carbon.

So if there are three things every project professional can do to make their projects more sustainable they are:

1. Eliminate any waste anywhere

2. Look at the environmental impact of the whole life cycle of a project

3. Make the project absolutely fit for purpose

Reference: Emma De Vita, project Magazine, Winter 2021

The narrated version of this article can be accessed through this link.

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