Sustainability on Large, Complex Engineering & Construction Programs Utilizing a Program Management Approach


By Bob Prieto


Large, complex engineering and construction programs may be found in all industry sectors ranging from extractive industries such as oil, gas and mining through infrastructure programs for transportation, water and power. Common to all of these programs is the potential they have to positively or negatively influence financial, social and environmental performance of the implementing organization as well as the communities and stakeholders they touch.

Together, financial, social and environmental outcomes define the three elements of sustainability or a program’s “triple bottom line”. The “triple bottom line” is a phrase coined by John Elkington and introduced in his 1998 book, Cannibals with Forks.


There are many reasons why an owner or program manager may select to practice sustainability including:

  • Reduced costs
  • Reduced liability
  • Efficient & effective management & disposal of materials
  • Enhanced image in communities
  • Corporate responsibility short-term & long-term

Large programs, comprised of multiple inter-related projects present new challenges and opportunities from a sustainability perspective driven by scale, complexity and the opportunity for leverage.

The life-cycle focus encouraged by good sustainability practice is reinforcing of the Strategic Program Management approach discussed below.

In this paper we will look at some of the challenges and opportunities programs present as well as a framework for application of sustainability principles in a program management approach.


To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  This paper was originally published in the July 2011 edition of PM World Today; republished here with the author’s permission.

About the Author 

bob prietoflag-usaBob Prieto 

Senior Vice President


Bob Prieto is a senior vice president of Fluor, one of the largest, publicly traded engineering and construction companies in the world. He is responsible for strategy for the firm’s Industrial & Infrastructure group which focuses on the development and delivery of large, complex projects worldwide. The group encompasses three major business lines including Infrastructure, with an emphasis on Public Private Partnerships; Mining; and Manufacturing and Life Sciences. Bob consults with owner’s of large engineering & construction capital construction programs across all market sectors in the development of programmatic delivery strategies encompassing planning, engineering, procurement, construction and financing. He is author of “Strategic Program Management” and “The Giga Factor: Program Management in the Engineering and Construction Industry” published by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) and “Topics in Strategic Program Management” as well as over 400 other papers and presentations.

Bob is a member of the ASCE Industry Leaders Council, National Academy of Construction and a Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America. Bob served until 2006 as one of three U.S. presidential appointees to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC), working with U.S. and Asia-Pacific business leaders to shape the framework for trade and economic growth and had previously served as both as Chairman of the Engineering and Construction Governors of the World Economic Forum and co-chair of the infrastructure task force formed after September 11th by the New York City Chamber of Commerce.

Previously, he established a 20-year record of building and sustaining global revenue and earnings growth as Chairman at Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), one of the world’s leading engineering companies.  Bob Prieto can be contacted at [email protected].