Greenhouse Gases: No Room for Complacency in the UK


A guest post by Grace Reed.

The 2008 Climate Change Act was introduced in order to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK over the coming decades and EU leaders have recently signed up to a landmark deal that aims to achieve a 40% reduction by 2030 compared to what they were in 1990.
This is a legally-binding agreement that was not actually achieved without a fair amount of additional hot air being expounded in Brussels, due to some vociferous discussions and positioning to protect various members’ interests.
Modest progress on targets
Environmental groups have welcomed the deal that has been struck but still insist that the measures have not gone far enough.
There were deep divisions exposed within the EU members with regard to the level of emissions cuts but at least they managed to agree to boost the use of renewable energy to 27% within the total energy mix, and to increase energy efficiency to at least 27% as well, but hopefully attain a higher percentage.  The UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey went as far as describing the recent deal as an “historic moment”, pointing out that the number of European countries with clear climate targets beyond 2020, has increased from 5 to 28 as a result of the agreement.
You can get more information on greenhouse gas emissions statistics by visiting the site.
How You Can Help
The UK may have its targets, but everyone can do their bit to cut their greenhouse gas emissions irrespective of laws and regulations put in place by the government.
The first thing that you can do is choose your energy company carefully. Many companies are now implementing more renewable energy schemes. For example, npower has built wind farms and has also been involved in various green projects over recent years.
The most important thing to do, however, is to try and change your habits when it comes to energy usage. There are many simple things that you can do right now to reduce your energy use on a daily basis. For example, you could turn off the lights every time you go out of the room, turn off your TV rather than leaving it on standby, make sure computers and gadgets are not left charging longer than they need to be, choose electrical devices that use less energy, and use low-energy light bulbs.
In addition, there are many bigger changes that you could make around your home to make an even larger saving when it comes to reducing your greenhouse gas emissions. One of the simplest things that you can do is to install better insulation in your home. You could do this in the loft or in the walls, and it can help to cut your heating bills dramatically.
In addition, you could install solar panels on your roof if you have a suitable space available. Or you could change your old windows for double-glazing windows, which can again help to save energy and reduce your bills as well as making your home more comfortable to live in.
Aim for a Low-Carbon Lifestyle
The UK may or may not hit its climate change targets by 2050, but we can all make a difference by changing our energy habits. How could you reduce the amount of energy you use around the home? Start by making simple changes and then consider other options like increasing the insulation in your home, then you can make sure that, whatever happens where the UK’s targets are concerned, you are doing your bit in the fight against climate change.
Grace Reed is an environmental researcher. An avid blogger, she likes to research and write about practical and innovative ways to save our planet. Her articles mainly appear on homeowner blogs.

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From time to time, here at EarthPM, we simply like to make resources available to you.  One such just became available – or at least, we became aware of it recently.  The site is “” and it’s effectively a way to listen to radio programming and podcasting from anywhere in the world, on demand.  We quickly found some great broadcasts on sustainability and PM issues so we just want to provide you with some direct links as well as the generic link to .  Enjoy!


  • Economist: In Other Words – do humans cause Climate Change?

  • Sustainability Business Strategies – Sustainability Sells

  • Sustainable Futures Podcast – Can we trust the IPCC?

  • Sustainable Business Strategies – Sustainability – what’s that about?

  • The ABC Radio News (Australia) – What it means to be extinct

  • Simple Project Management Strategy – the value of PM


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Click three times…


In the classic 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, the Good Witch of the North, Glinda,  comes to Dorothy and advises her that she had had the power all along to go home. All she had to do was “tap her heels together three times” (of course she had to be wearing the proper footwear – ruby slippers) and she would be brought home “in two seconds”.
What could this possibly have to do with project management and/or sustainability?
A lot! And we think this is very worth your time if you’ll follow us on this short journey.

Let’s start with change.
Dorothy wanted to change her location. The lion was nice, as was the scarecrow and the tin man. But she was homesick. After all, she belongs in Kansas, “in her own back yard”,  as she says herself. She wants this change but she believes that she will need to call on much higher powers (witches, wizards) to do so.

But Glinda tells her that she just needs to tap her heels thrice to go home. Click. Click. Click.  Three simple clicks.  That’s all it takes.

Now, here’s where we’ll make the connection.  As authors of the book Green Project Management, we’ve gone around the world to talk about how project managers need to bring sustainability thinking into PM, we get lots of pushback. Some of it is due to folks just not believing in the concept of sustainability in the first place, or at least in the ideas of climate change, often politicizing the issue and making it one of left or right.
Forget that.
We’re not talking politics here.
In our collection of “pushbacks” we also get folks who (luckily) get past the politics of all of this, realize this is a real issue but tell us things like this:

• “I can’t make a decision to purchase a more sustainable raw material for my project if it costs more.”
• “I don’t have the authority to bring sustainability into a project, never mind into my company’s thinking.”
• “I’m just a project manager…”

These folks are just like Dorothy. Guess what, project managers? Don’t undersell yourself!  Don’t be a “Dorothy”.  You are change agents. By definition you are change agents.   Projects, by definition, are about change.  Nobody would do a project in the first place if they didn’t want something to change.  You are wearing ruby slippers!  You had the power all along! And not only that, your enterprises are likely already promoting sustainability at the highest level, so by being a change agent and making decisions (for example) to use a slightly more expensive vendor or material because it has a more sustainable long-term result, you are actually acting in line with your top management’s strategic objectives.

Now we know that real life isn’t exactly like Oz.  It’s probably not that straightforward.  You may have to get some other goblins and flying monkeys (usually known in our world as middle managers) out of the way, but up at the higher echelons of your company, they’re rooting for YOU to be the change.

And there’s the other connection to the “three taps”. In this case, we’ve done a little homework and we’re asking you to do the same in your enterprise.

We assert that within three clicks on your company’s EXTERNAL home page, you will end up on a page devoted to either sustainability, triple-bottom-line thinking, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or something of that ilk. And that page will have statements, objectives, goals, values about how your leadership views itself, views its responsibilities to the triple bottom line, and by extension, how it views you – Mr. or Ms. Project Manager – Mr. or Ms. Change Agent – as a way to get their vision to steady-state operation.
We tried it. It works.
Here are just a few examples of major global companies and within three clicks, we had found our way to Kansas. Or at least to the Sustainability pages of these companies. We bet that it will work for yours as well.

Below is a short video clip from The Wizard of Oz which will help remind (and inspire) you to tap your heels (or your ruby mouse?) three times.

This idea will be a key thread in our upcoming book, Sustainability in Projects, Programs, and Portfolios: Realizing Enterprise Benefits and Goals. Look for it in 2015. But in the meantime…. Repeat to yourself: there’s no role like a change agent….there’s no role like a change agent…

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The sweet smell of success… in a gymnasium?



OK, we admit it.  One normally would not associate the … well, let’s call it the aroma of a gymnasium to be the first thing to come to mind when you think of the sweet smell of success.

But a gymnasium can be – and it should be – a way to make you think of success.

Let me explain.  I suggest that you have a look at this tremendous blog post by Mounir Ajam of SUKADClick here to do that right now.  But then come back…for the rest of the story.

Let’s assume for the moment, though, that you are a “Type A” project manager who doesn’t follow instructions well, has little time for this blog post, never-mind another one, so you just kept on reading and here you are without going off and reading Mounir’s blog post.

I bet I gotcha!  Here you are.  Well…one more chance to read that first…

Well, even if you haven’t done that little eeny-teeny-tiny piece of homework, we can sum things up for you.

In a project which happens to have a gymnasium as its product, when is it done?  When is it successful?  It depends on how success is defined, of course, and that should be done in the project charter.

Let’s say that this organization is particularly mature and sustainably-minded.  By the way, you’ll note that the element of GREEN never comes up here.  Sustainability and ‘green’ are not synonyms.  Here, we are thinking about sustainability in terms of the economic and social aspects; we are thinking holistically about what success means and why the gymnasium was being built in the first place.

The blog post talks of 4 measures of project success, Product Success, Project Management Success, Project Success, and Business Objective Success.  It’s not a perfect match but it’s actually quite like the section of our book which refers to Harry Mulisch’s Discovery of Heaven and its table of contents, which include:

The Beginning of the Beginning

The End of the Beginning

The Beginning of the End

The End of the End

In the blog post, Mounir points out that the project charter should say that the project’s objective is to build a gymnasium to improve employee health.  That simple restating of the objective helps us think through our natural stopping point (The End of the Beginning) and through to the realization of benefits.

Below is a figure used by permission which shows this pictorially.  However, once again, we suggest that you get the full “whiff” of the gymnasium story by going to the original blog post.


Figure courtesy of: The SUKAD Way™ | CAM2P™ Model | The Four Dimensions of Project Success

And if this intrigues you, this is exactly what we’re going to be stressing in our upcoming book, “Sustainability in Projects, Programs, and Portfolios: Realizing Enterprise Benefits and Goals”.  Or maybe, we should have called it, “The Sweet Smell of The Gymnasium”!


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We put the “X” in ConteXt.


Look at the two Xs above.

They are exactly the same color and shade.

I know… I know…!   The one in the yellow box looks grey…. and the one in the grey box looks yellow.

But once again, here is the fact: these Xs are of the same color and shade.

If you don’t believe us – look at that little connecting line at the bottom center.  It’s the same bleeping color.  How can that be?  They look totally different when you look at them individually.

What makes this mind blowing revelation take place is – context.  It’s only when we (literally) understand the background of the situation that we can appreciate what makes the foreground (the readily apparent) really, truly understandable.  And sometimes, as in this case, knowing the background changes the ‘readily apparent’ as ‘not the facts’.

Now, recall that according to some experts (and probably your own experience as well) a project manager’s job is mostly communications. Some say that it’s as much as 90% of our job. But it’s not just ‘sending email’ or even ‘active listening’, or ‘frequent status updates’, although all of those are important.

For communications to be effective, we have to provide the right background (which you LITERALLY see above) for the communication to make sense.

This means thinking about the format and media of the message. This means providing orientation for your audience (after first absolutely knowing who that audience is). This means balancing the amount of context and background with a competing need to be concise and clear and to avoid being condescending.  And as you’ll see later, from an EarthPM perspective, it means balancing your project’s needs with the enterprise’s portfolio needs, which are likely much longer-term in nature and holistic in their viewpoint than your project’s handover of its deliverable.  No offense meant.  Just sayin’.

In other words, just as we have to balance the competing constraints of time, scope, schedule, cost, quality, risk, and resources, when we communicate, we have to balance the need to be concise and clear with the need to send “the right color X”, which means sending along the right amount of context.  And this is even more true when integrating sustainability into Project, Program, and Portfolio Management, which will become increasingly important over the next few years.

On top of all of the other things we do as project managers, more and more, we have to be sure that our project is in the proper context with the overall enterprise goals, and the the benefits (and other byproducts) that our project generates are in line with the enterprise vision.  That means thinking about the PRODUCT of the project in the steady state, not just the handoff of the PRODUCT of the project to the operations folks.  Once again – it’s about context.

Our advice to you in this area:

• Know the stakeholders and their needs for background BEFORE you send any messages or convene any meeting

• Front-load your message – by that, I mean to put the ‘walk-away’ message early on in an communication; but don’t stop there, back up and give rationale and context as well

• Where necessary, and using things like hyperlinked text, provide the OPPORTUNITY for getting more background for those who need it, and in this way avoid cluttering up your message with too much context. But you DO need to provide it. Look again at the Xs if you need a reminder

• Consider the medium you’re using. Certain communications are tainted by the very medium you use to send them. Think: would a phone call be better? Would this information better be conveyed with a graphic (bar chart, pie chart) to make the point clear for the (majority) visual thinkers in my audience?

• Re-read your communications one more time before sending, with the idea of context foremost in your mind. Would ALL of the stakeholders be able to get your “walk-away” message with the amount of context you’ve provided? If not, consider ‘painting’ the background a little to make sure you have the right color “X”.

• Now let’s REALLY get serious about context. Make sure that you, yourself, as a project leader – not a project manager – are connected to the context of your project in the environment (excuse the pun) of the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) statements that your enterprise makes. This can be accomplished with a simple visit to your external “ABOUT US” tab to see what your enterprise is touting to the world about its CSR efforts. That’s true leadership: knowing how you fit into the vision and passing that golden thread along to your team members.

If you’re interested in learning more about the visual aspect of this image, there’s a very good article and radio show clip about it right here.

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