Article #131 Economic, Social and Environment Sustainability Assessment Checklist for Capital Projects

There is a growing trend among project owners involved in delivering capital projects to incorporate the principles of sustainable development into their projects. Having a sustainable assessment checklist will help those project owners to ensure that decisions taken in developing the project have been assessed against recognized sustainability criteria. The checklist can be used to screen the combined economic, social, and environmental impacts of the project. The Northern Ireland Local Government Sustainable Development Forum has created a sustainability checklist that will be used in this article. Project owners are encouraged to create their sustainability checklists that will include assessment questions that are relevant to their Economic Sustainability, Social Sustainability, and Environment Sustainability requirements.

The sustainability assessment checklist consists of a series of questions that are separated into the three principal elements of sustainable development: Economic, Social, and Environment. Each one of those principles will be further decomposed into five components. For example, for the economic sustainability principle, the five components will be economic development, education, and information, innovation and job creation, economic benefits, and investment for sustainability. As for the social sustainability principle, the five components are health and well-being, equality and poverty, sustainable communities, culture, and cleaner, safer and greener. Finally, for the environmental sustainability principle, the five components are energy, climate change, waste, biodiversity, and resource efficiency.

Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb will be used to create the Sustainability Assessment checklist process. The checklist will include the three sustainability principles, the five components for each principle, and the screening questions for each component that will be used as a guide to help the project owner to assess the sustainability of the capital project. For each question, the project owner needs to decide if the question is relevant. And if yes, had the project owner considered it? This will become the basis for detailing how the project will have a positive, negative or neutral sustainability impact on the component being assessed and what mitigation measures should be undertaken when there are negative impacts.

Similar to other PMWeb modules, the attachment tab will be used to attach all supportive documents used in responding to the checklist. Those could include the proposed project location plan, pictures, studies done by third parties, and details of meetings held with the local communities among others. It is highly recommended that all those supportive documents are uploaded and stored in the PMWeb document management repository under a folder that will be titled Sustainability Assessment Checklist. In addition, links to other PMWeb records like meeting minutes among others as well as imported MS Outlook emails be linked to the SA checklist form.

To ensure the formal review and approval of the Sustainability Assessment Checklist response including the justification provided for each sustainability principle component, a workflow will be assigned to the SA checklist form. This will enforce the needed accountability in submitting, reviewing, and approving the Sustainability Assessment Checklist.

Another checklist will be created to summarize the economic, social, and environmental assessments. The checklist will be used to make a final decision regarding the sustainability of the project. It will be also used to consider if additional mitigation measures are required before justifying each statement in the summary checklist. The checklist will list the three sustainability principles, Economic Sustainability, Social Sustainability, and Environmental Sustainability. For each principle, there will be five questions that summarize the relevant sustainability assessment checklist questions for each component. For each question, the checklist will identify if the question is relevant, had been considered, if additional mitigation actions are required, and if it is justified.

Similar to the Sustainability Assessment checklist, the attachment tab will be used to attach all supportive documents and link relevant PMWeb records and imported MS Outlook emails. In addition, a workflow can be assigned to the Summary of Sustainability Assessment form to formalize the submission, review, and approval process.

A report will be designed to capture the results of the Sustainability Assessment checklist and Summary of Sustainability Assessment checklist response. The report will detail the response to the fifteen questions of the Summary Sustainability Assessment and a summary of what was the response for the four responses of each question being relevant, considered, mitigates, and justified. In addition, a tabular report will be also created to provide details of the questions included in the Sustainability Assessment checklist and the response to those questions.

About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with more than 35-year service record providing project management and controls services to over 100 projects with a total value of over US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education, and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication, and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.

Bassam is a frequent speaker on topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 35 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 250 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), an Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE), and a Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Master’s in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – from Kuwait University, Kuwait, and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and London Business School, London, UK.


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