Sustainability in Project Management – a case study at Landstede MBO Zwolle


By Bianca van Es & Marjolein Jonker 

The University of Greenwich in London (United Kingdom) in cooperation  with Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Deventer (The Netherlands)


This paper investigates how organizations integrate sustainability into the way they execute and manage projects. A literature review is done and the driving forces that are contributory towards sustainability in project management and the different levels of incorporation are described. These are combined into a model, named: 9S Wheel (the wheel of 9 driving forces towards Sustainability in projects).

To research how these driving forces contribute to sustainability in projects in practice, a case study is done at Landstede MBO Zwolle.

How the driving forces contribute in practice, the interdependence of the different driving forces, and the importance of a holistic approach to reach a high level of sustainability in projects within organizations, are described.

1. Introduction 

If every project in an organization is sustainable, every organization can change their business in a way which does not harm the wellbeing of us and our future generation. A dream or could this be reality?

Sustainability is about meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”  (WECD, 1987 3.27). Organizations can play a tremendous role in this challenge, the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) stated that business needs to change, otherwise the future of our planet earth cannot be assured. Therefore is it necessary to know what aspects influence an organization and the people within an organization towards behaving in a sustainable way. 

As more organizations start to see the importance of sustainability, organizations will search for ways to integrate sustainability within their organizations. Project management can play a tremendous role. Project management is a way to implement change into an organization and sustainability is change, because sustainability is not yet a part of the nature of organizations (Turner & Müller 2003). Thereby the result of the project should be sustainable but projects itself can also be executed in a sustainable way. The following research question towards this is phrased:

“How do organizations integrate the concepts of sustainability into the way they execute and manage projects?” 

First a literature review is done to gather information in the topics related to this research, at the end a model is presented. Further research is done by a case study. The organization chosen for the case study will be introduced. Then the results will be shown and analyzed based upon the model. At the end a conclusion and information about further research on this subject will be given.


To read entire article (click here)

Editor’s note: This paper won the 3rd prize Student Paper Award – master level at the happy projects ’13 conference in Vienna in April 2013; it is republished here with approval of the authors and happy projects conference organizers, PROJECT MANAGEMENT GROUP at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration and ROLAND GAREIS CONSULTING.  Learn about the happy projects events at http://www.happyprojects.at/ 

About the authors 

flag-ukflag-hollandbianca-van-esBianca van Es 

After obtaining a Bachelor degree in Facility Management in 2004, Bianca van Es has worked several years as a Facility Manager in healthcare. While studying fulltime at the International MSc Real Estate Management at the University of Greenwich, London, she works as a senior scheduler at Landstede vocational education. The course ‘sustainability in project management’ made her curious what did or did not made project managers at Landstede integrate sustainability in their projects. By this paper she hopes to give insight into this theme. Bianca hopes to finish her Master in October 2013 within the topic of Corporate Real Estate Management, while looking forward to an interesting career in Real Estate.  Bianca can be contacted at [email protected]. 

flag-ukflag-hollandmarjolein-jonkerMarjolein Jonker  

Marjolein Jonker finished her Bachelor degree in Facility Management in 2012 and went straight on with the MSc Facility Management at the University of Greenwich. The Project Management course took her interest from the very start and especially when it was about using Project Management to integrate sustainability in organizations. Sustainability nowadays is so important, we cannot enter an organization without knowing the importance of sustainability. Hopefully this paper contributes to the knowledge in the field and gives a useful tool. Marjolein hopes to finish her MSc Facility Management in October 2013 and after that she going to look for an interesting and challenging career.  She can be contacted at [email protected].