The power of a sustainable touch


In our first book, Green Project Management, we wrote about GreenTouch – a consortium of telecom service providers and equipment vendors, developers, programmers – many of whom directly compete with one another for business – working together on a focused goal to reduce the energy consumption of ‘the network’.  That is, everything between your eyes and my keyboard, and the stuff that stores and transmits the bits and bytes as I type this blog post.

GreenTouch recently announced that their astounding target of 1000x reduction (not a 10% or a 25% reduction, but a one-thousand times reduction, was not achieved.

(pregnant pause)

What was achieved instead was a TEN THOUSAND TIMES reduction.  This is pretty impressive.  Let’s put it in automotive terms: this is like taking 3.6 million cars off of the road.  Forever.

And it makes a point – I would say an exclamation point – about what we’ve been saying for years about project management, technology, energy, and the ‘triple bottom line’.  The point: you don’t have to be in the electric utility or petroleum industry to make a difference in sustainability.  You don’t have to be in the pharmaceutical business or the food industry or the agricultural area to make a difference on toxins or nutrition.  You have to think long-term.  You have to think beyond your project’s outcome – or in this case, work on a project that has a focused long-term goal.

These guys made changes in software protocols – SOFTWARE PROTOCOLS – for example, to make huge differences in how optical amplifiers turn on and off and that ‘little change’ had far-reaching positive consequences.  They worked on metering and dashboard tools for network managers, and so on.  These types of changes were (as you can see by the results) were highly effective.

Have a look at this non-profit’s press release and video.  I hope it inspires you.  It inspired us and is one of the reasons we wrote the follow-up book, “Driving Project, Program, and Portfolio Success“.  Enjoy.

 NEW YORK, June 18, 2015GreenTouch™, the global consortium dedicated to dramatically improving the energy efficiency of data communications networks, today announced its final results and unveiled new tools, technologies and architectures to improve the energy efficiencies of communications networks in years to come. During a celebratory event in New York, GreenTouch revealed that its new approaches can improve energy efficiencies of mobile-access networks by more than 10,000X – an achievement far exceeding the original goals of the working group.

Shutdowns and Stories – Politicians and Puppets


This post is a bit eclectic.  But it all comes together, trust us.

Here are four seemingly unrelated, apparently ‘random’ subjects which we intend to tie up in a neat little package:

  • The United States Government’s shutdown
  • A new app for the iPhone
  • A fantastic experience at a Project Management Workshop
  • Hybrid cars and college students

Right.  Yeah, sure.  Nobody could pull that all together.  Well, WE can.  EarthPM can do that for you.  Just wait and see.  We’re that good.

First of all, let’s start with the US Government.  Part of the US Government is the Department of Energy and its Argonne National Labs.  We’re proud to be working with Argonne on ECOCAR2.  We sure hope that the Government shutdown does not end the efforts of Argonne.  ECOCAR is an amazing collaboration as you will see from our puppet below.

Wait.  Puppet?  Did he say puppet?  What’s that about?  Well, that brings us to the second bullet, a new app for the iPhone.  Check out this link (click here to learn about Shadow Puppet).  This clever application helps anyone quickly and easily narrate a photo-laden story to convey an idea or perhaps a project lesson with amazing ease and an without anyone else needing the app to play the story you just wrote.  Stories are very important to project managers.  Which brings us to the next piece of our eclectic package.

We just finished a tremendous workshop at ECOCAR2’s “Fall Workshop” in which we were asked to help the students and advisors in this 15-university program with transitions between project managers.  Project managers who are college students, competing to create a new hybrid vehicle from a General Motors-donated 2013 Chevy Malibu.  Stories featured heavily in our training – the concept that stories help promote data into information  into knowledge and finally into wisdom.  This concept (called the DIKW Pyramid) is even featured in the 5th Edition PMBOK(R) Guide.  So our training for ECOCAR2 seemed to take.  And during that training, we learned about this brand new app – Shadow Puppet.  So we’ll be sharing this with our ECOCAR2 students.

And what is ECOCAR? Well the best way to do that is to watch our newly-created puppet!

You can do that by clicking on the image below!

Clicking on this picture will take you to a “shadow puppet” describing EarthPM’s experience at ECOCAR2’s Fall Workshop, September 2013.






You can find out much more about ECOCAR here and here.

And you can find out how EarthPM can help you by contacting us at

Through a Sustainability Lens

Often times we talk about the Green Spectrum, particularly with respect to projects that are green in general, or appear to have no sustainability aspect, when, in actuality, all projects have a sustainability element.  This time, we’ll look at a project that is Green by Definition, but is scrutinized through a sustainability lens.  And, it is a very,very interesting concept.

As part of the “Smart from the Start” (that sounds like a good phrase for sustainability in projects, too) initiative by Secretary of Interior Salazar, there is a proposal for a 200 mile-wide wind energy corridor stretching from Canada to the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

While we don’t know yet about the other sustainable aspects being considered, we do know, at this point, that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will write an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  “Wind energy is crucial to our nation’s future economic and environmental security. We will do our part to facilitate development of wind energy resources, while ensuring that they are sited and designed in ways that minimize and avoid negative impacts to fish and wildlife,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “This EIS process gives us an opportunity to evaluate impacts to dozens of imperiled species at a landscape level to ensure that wind energy development occurs in the right places in the right way.”

The reasoning behind the EIS is that in order to accomplish the project, an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) needs to be granted.  Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act and its implementing regulations “prohibit the take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened.”  It doesn’t allow the harassment, harm, pursuit, hunting, shooting, wounding, trapping, capturing, or collecting or, an attempt to engage in those practices when it comes to endangered or threatened species.  However, Under Section 10 of the Act, it allows for people to obtain an ITP as long as they are pursuing otherwise legal activities.  The permittee is then provided “incidental take” authorization.

The applicant must submit a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) containing the measures that it will take to minimize, avoid, or mitigate incidental take.  The Service will then review the HCP and issue an EIS that considers the impacts.  The Service will also identify “potentially significant impacts on biological resources, land use, air quality, water quality, water resources, economics, and other environmental/historical resources that may occur directly or indirectly as a result of implementing the proposed action or any of the alternatives. Various strategies for avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating the impacts of incidental take will also be considered.  Sounds like risk management to me!

“The proposed Permit Area is defined as a 200-mile wide corridor determined by defining the center line of the whooping crane migration based on the database of confirmed whooping crane observations from the Cooperative Whooping Crane Tracking Program and buffering that line by 100 miles on either side. This corridor spans the Gulf Coast of Texas north to the Canadian border and encompasses such cities as Houston, TX; Oklahoma City, OK; Wichita, KS; Bismarck, ND; Grand Island, NE; and Aberdeen, SD. In addition, the permit area includes the current and a large part of the historic range of the lesser prairie-chicken which extends the covered area beyond the 200-mile wide whooping crane migration corridor to include parts of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.”

“Species currently considered for inclusion under the permit include the following: the endangered whooping crane (Grus americana); endangered interior least tern (Sterna antillarum athalassos); endangered piping plover (Charadrius melodus); and lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), a candidate species.”

There are two important points here for a project manager.  The first is that this will be one heck of a program, involving a huge amount of projects, wind energy projects including; the wind power generators themselves, transmission, distribution, support facilities, etc.  Secondly, it involves looking at the project through a sustainability lens.  In above case, a very narrow view because of regulatory issues (specifically the Endangered Species Act) one of the “drivers” in our book.  There will be more and more of these opportunities for the project manager who is not only aware of sustainability issues, vocabulary, and problems and drivers, but also uses that knowledge and considers greenality* when approaching any project.

* The degree to which an organization (project manager) has considered environmental (sustainable) factors that affect its projects during the entire project life cycle and beyond.

“The organism is an organism”.










“The organism is an organism.”


The title of this blog post is a quote from David Berry.  It comes from a truly fascinating article from Boston Magazine, linked here.

The quote is  not from  Dave Barry, the columnist from The Miami Herald, and author of some fairly funny books…but David Berry, 33-year-old founder of Joule Unlimited.

To draw from the article, and whet your appetite to consume it all – despite the fact that it features pond scum,

“Berry and his team have figured out how to grow algae that are little diesel-making machines, designed to do nothing in life except ingest sunlight and CO2, drink water, and crap pure, clean fuel. And if Berry’s done his math right, these bacteria are the secret to a petroleum-free future. It’s only a matter of time, he says, until they eliminate the need for oil pulled from the ground. Joule Unlimited is not going to reduce our reliance on oil. It’s going to wipe it out.”

This is fascinating stuff.

The quote, “the organism is an organism”, comes from a part of the interview when Berry did not want to get any more specific about the type of cyanobacteria (pictured above) which was being “trained” to become the next major provider of the Earth’s energy needs.

And it’s a “green-by-definition” project, one in which the product of the project is related directly to sustainability or environmental issues.

Remember, we say that you don’t have to be on this type of project to think green, but it’s still inspiring to take a look at this side of the green project spectrum for inspiration – and just to have a peek at some of the brilliant work being done in this area.

We suggest reading the article and getting some of that good ol’ pond-scummy inspiration!


Lighting up solar projects in the USA


Our US Department of the Interior announced yesterday (16-December-2010) that it has drafted a new environmental policy to expedite large-scale solar power projects in six western states.

The policy, known as the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), designates 24 sites on public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah for renewable energy projects.

We’re not talking about small potatoes here.  This is about over 100 active solar applications covering 1 million acres that developers estimate could generate 60,000 megawatts of electricity.

Why should you care?

Well, if for no other reason: job security. Does this effort trigger projects (and therefore the need for project managers)?  Well, perhaps this will help answer that question.  The 32 page Introduction section of the PEIS document contains the word project of program over 150 times.

Presentation on the document structure:

Click here for a short video on how to use the document.

Link to full PEIS document:

Click here for the full document.

Click here for a set of Questions and Answers on the program.

As we have continued to assert – climate change cynic, or earthy enthusiastic environmentalist, as a project manager, you are best off – and importantly, best suited – to ride the green wave.  Start riding.