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Measuring the success of sustainable projects



  • In the end, the objectives of a sustainable project will be as diverse as the society in which it is built and the priorities for its performance (its sustainability score) will reflect the values of that society.
  • All of the national systems evaluated in this report are relatively complex and their scoring systems are focused on the perceived needs and corresponding values of the society of origin.
  • It would be much more straightforward and less society-dependent to base project performance on how well these six engineering issues have been handled, namely: water, energy, and material preservation; environment; health and safety; human rights protection. FIDIC proposed to measure performance against an extreme and probably unachievable standard. In this performance protocol, sustainable projects achieved zero use of non-recoverable energy, water and materials and zero net impact on environment, health and safety, and human rights.

Project sustainability assessment systems:

  • None of the four existing systems evaluated in the report met the Canadian industry’s requirements or suited the industry’s clients perfectly, but all had elements that were worthwhile and thought provoking. 
  • FIDIC’s PSM II guideline, which is not an assessment tool, is a useful way to look at the issues that comprise project sustainability. A modest amount of work could turn it into a tool that would be suitable for project goal setting internal to the industry. With it in hand, company discussions with clients on specific projects could be simplified, and industry discussions with groups of clients to find common ground for project assessment could be facilitated.