Senior Lecturer in Project Management
School of Engineering, Design and Built Environment,
Western Sydney University, Parramatta South Campus
Associate Prof. Xiaohua Jin, Associate Professor in Project Management, Western Sydney University.
(Supervisor: Advise on the overall direction of the project)
Mr James Bawtree, Chief Executive Officer, PMLogic.
(Industry advisor and reviewer)
Mr. Collin Smith Chief, Managing Director and CEO, International Centre for Complex Project Management.
(Industry advisor and reviewer)
Mr Isaac Akomea-Frimpong, Research Assistant, Western Sydney University.
The Australian construction sector is one of the major emitters of greenhouse gases due to the large industrial activities in the sector. Therefore, actions towards reducing carbon emissions by all stakeholders particularly project managers (PMs) have become crucial in recent years. However, the roles and competencies of project managers to ensure the attainment of net-zero carbon in the construction industry by 2050 is still unexplored. In this research, we aim to investigate the specific roles and competencies of project managers and develop a competency maturity model towards achieving net zero carbon in a project lifecycle in Australia. This research will utilise expert forum and two-round Delphi survey to collect data from project managers to develop the maturity model. Further, the model will be validated using a case study through semi-structured interviews with selected experts. The resultant net zero carbon competency maturity model will help PMs to understand their critical roles and the competencies required to achieve net zero carbon in projects as well as meet the national net zero target by 2050.
The construction industry is a major emitter of greenhouse-gas emissions. Specifically, about 36% of the total energy resources and nearly 39% of global CO2 emissions are consumed by the construction and building industry (UNEP 2017). Further, in Australia, the building sector is responsible for about 26% of its total energy and about 280,000 tons of CO2 emissions per day (HouseEnergy 2013). As the world population upsurges, the demand for new infrastructure projects also upsurges (Li et al. 2022), consequently, leading to numerous construction activities and use of materials that are related to embodied carbon (Robati et al. 2019). Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, governments, and industry leaders (including the construction industry) pledged to keep global warming below 2°C, ideally 1.5°C. To achieve this goal, emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in all industries including the construction industry must fall to net zero by 2050. Generally, net zero carbon refers to the means of reducing greenhouse gas emission possibly to nearly zero while any insignificant remnant of the emission is re-absorbed from the atmosphere (United Nation, 2022).
Aim and Objectives
The aim of this research is to develop a net zero carbon project management competency maturity model for infrastructure projects delivery in Australia. The aim will be achieved through the following derived objectives.
1. Explore and evaluate the critical roles and competencies of Project Managers in achieving net zero carbon in infrastructure project lifecycle.
2. To explore the process categories, key process areas and maturity levels of net zero carbon project management and develop a competency maturity model
3. To test and validate the net zero carbon project management competency maturity model Proposed
The practical benefits expected to be derived from the research
Considering the urgent need for governments and project organizations to develop initiatives to meet the net zero target by 2050, the findings of this research will provide adequate understanding and knowledge on the critical roles and responsibilities of project managers towards achieving the net zero ambitions in the construction industry. More importantly, the competency maturity model will enable project managers to assess their current net zero carbon project management competency level and further ascertain the specific skills required to fully developed their capability to manage net zero carbon infrastructure projects. Lastly, the overall findings of this research will provide the knowledge base on net zero carbon project management competencies which can be used for continuous professional development and training by professional bodies and educational institutions in Australia and other jurisdictions.
School of the Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney.
(Primary researcher – Expert in project controls and modelling)
Professor Shankar Sankaran, School of the Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney
(Supervisor, Senior researcher in Organizational project management and project governance)
Professor Juanee Cilliers, School of the Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney.
(Supervisor, Expert in Urban Planning, ESG and Infrastructure Development)
Mr. Sandeep Mathur, PhD Student, School of the Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney
(Research assistant- Researcher in data science programs)
Abhijnan Datta, PhD Student, School of the Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney
(Research assistant- Researcher in data science and visualization, Expert in project controls)
Integrated Environmental Social Governance (ESG) reporting has increased worldwide since its inception in 2006 as investors are demanding that organizations demonstrate their social and environmental responsibilities. As of 2020, the assets under management (AUM) for ESG based funds has grown to more than US$35.3 trillion and is expected to reach US$50 trillion by 2025. Australian investors are also following this global trend. It has become clear that ‘ESG regulation is no longer a question of “if” but “when” and “to what extent”, which creates an urgency to demonstrate that ESG factors are receiving the attention of corporations and their boards. ESG reporting is also having an impact on the funding of major infrastructure projects, and we expect that this will encompass all projects in the future as organizations report on ESG indicators. Although this impact is felt at the start of projects when investment is required, the literature on megaprojects shows an increasing need for projects to create social value as well as demonstrate environmental responsibility throughout their delivery. However, standards and guides on governance of projects do not seem to have kept pace with the requirements for ESG even though they refer to social value and sustainability. The data required to create ESG reports from projects is also not clear. This makes it difficult to design suitable project dashboards displaying information that would be useful to implement project governance and controls to comply with ESG requirements.
A review of prominent project management journals reveals that ESG is not discussed in research articles, which shows that there is a gap in the literature that requires investigating.
Aims and objectives
The aim of this research is to investigate the impact of ESG reporting on project governance and controls in Australia with a specific focus on infrastructure projects for urban development, which could become relevant to all projects in the future. This would involve the following:
1. Investigate the current state of the requirements for ESG reporting for infrastructure projects for urban development in Australia.
2. Identify data to be collected from infrastructure projects and develop a uniform reporting scheme as there are variations between Infrastructure Sustainability Ratings between states in Australia.
3. Develop a prototype visualization method to enable projects to incorporate these indicators for project governance and controls.
4. Inform bodies that are publishing project governance standards and guides as well as the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia.
Proposed research methods
A multi-method approach will be adopted to collect required data for this research. Following an extensive review of available academic and professional literature on ESG reporting requirements, a diverse sample of experts from industry will be interviewed. The semi-structured interviews will assist us to understand the current state of adopting ESG guidelines and reporting. Overall, ten interviews will be conducted and potential interviewees will be invited from Transport for NSW, Treasury NSW, City of Sydney, investors in 2 projects (Plenary, Capella), infrastructure developers/contractors (Acciona, John Holland, Motzky) and Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia, consultants (PwC Australia, TBH).
After analyzing data from the interviews, a data strategy will be developed for ESG reporting using the expertise of two doctoral researchers in the research team who are doing their research on data science and visualization in projects. A focus group will be conducted with five reputable research scholars and professional experts familiar with various project governance standards and practices to validate our understanding and data requirements. A proof-of-concept prototype to demonstrate the visualization of data for ESG reporting using a current infrastructure project will be developed with the assistance of a visualization research institute at an Australian university.
Practical benefits expected to be derived from this research
The dissemination of outputs from this study includes a report to the Project Governance and Controls Symposium (PGCS) and articles submitted to project management journals that will help report ESG indicators in major projects. The prototype will assist in enhancing governance and controls in projects.
Assoc. Prof. in Project Management, Director of Academic Programs – Project Management School of Engineering, Design and Built Environment, Western Sydney University.
Unprecedented changes due to COVID-19 pandemic introduces new psychosocial risks for mental health of project management practitioners (PMPs) in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) projects. This research is aimed at improving mental health status of PMPs in AEC projects during COVID-19 pandemic in Australia by exploring psychosocial risk factors, evaluating their interventions, and establishing a psychosocial risk management framework. The research objectives will be attained through an expert forum, an industry questionnaire survey and a case study. The resultant psychosocial risk management framework is expected to improve mental health status of PMPs in AEC projects.
Late-March 2020, the novel coronavirus pandemic outbreak, COVID-19, forced Australian government to order the closure of construction sites across the states and people to work from home, unless they had jobs of high necessity (Australian Government Department of Health 2020). Among construction sectors, AEC project organizations are mostly hit by the pandemic because of their engagement in complex projects that entails large supply chain and multiple parties in delivering construction projects (Weatherly 2020). Disruption in supply chain of materials and workers to construction site has introduced new management system in AEC projects (Steele 2020). Management of multiple project parties remotely due to closure of construction site sparked unprecedented risks new to AEC projects. The situation is even worse as AEC project organizations struggle to transform into new form of budget, quality and time management system due to unplanned changes in project management (Steele 2020; Weatherly 2020).
COVID-19 is not going away soon in Australia (WorkSafe Victoria 2020). Unprecedented changes due to COVID-19 pandemic introduces new psychosocial risks for mental health of PMPs in AEC projects (Association for Project Management 2020). Irrespective of structure of working environment during the pandemic, PMPs are exposed to COVID-19 related psychosocial risks such as isolation, increased workload, stress of using new technologies, work family conflicts, longer working hours, risk of domestic violence and job insecurity (Houseman 2020; International Labour Organisation Office 2020). Social and economic implications of poor mental health among PMPs in AEC projects are substantial as cost of poor mental health to Australian workplaces is roughly AUD10.9 billion per year (PricewaterhouseCoopers 2014). Moreover, recent reports show sharp decrease in productivity of PMPs linked to COVID-19 related psychosocial risk factors for mental ill-health (Association for Project Management 2020).
Despite the relationships between COVID-19 psychosocial risk factors and mental ill-health among PMPs in AEC project organizations in Australia, and urgency to address the significant problem, there is a dearth of research on COVID-19 psychosocial risk management for mental health in AEC projects. This research is timely and urgent because of limited knowledge on how to manage psychosocial risk exposing PMPs to mental ill-health, which negatively influence their performance. Economical implication of poor mental health to Australian government and AEC project organizations ranging from medical cost and compensation claims substantial the significance of addressing the mental ill-health among PMPs.
Research Aim and Objectives
The research is aimed at improving mental health status of project management practitioners in AEC projects during COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Specifically, the following research objectives are to be attained:
1. To explore psychosocial risk factors causing mental ill-health of PMPs in relation to COVID-19 pandemic in
2. To evaluate interventions for psychosocial risk factors during Covid-19 pandemic in AEC projects.
3. To establish psychosocial risk management framework for mental health of PMPs in AEC projects.
Acting Course Director, Project Management School of Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney.
This project will explore the opportunities that social media could offer to project managers at different stages of transport projects. The findings will improve the understanding of how project managers could use social media to enhance project performance.
Transport infrastructure projects have been chosen for this study. The team will design this project as multiple case studies. Data to be collected will be in two sets - social media data and project management data. A matching collection and analysis of the two sets of data will lead us to achieve the research objectives. The results will be consolidated in a structured approach for using social medial at different stages of a project.
Brief background to the research
Due to global trends such as urbanisation, there is an increasing need for the delivery and maintenance of transport infrastructure, such as roads, railways and subways around the world. Transport infrastructure projects have at least two characteristics that make them unique to study.
First, the scale of these types of projects tends to be large, and the delivered infrastructure is designed to be in use for several decades.
Second, transport infrastructure projects are of interest not only to internal stakeholders but also to citizens who are the future users. Although citizens can, especially in collaboration, have a strong influence on projects (Aaltonen and Kujala, 2016), their capacity for making their voices heard is limited by their peripheral location in stakeholder maps. However, a critical avenue for individual citizens to be heard is social media, which has become widely used in recent times to be able to express opinions publicly.
The published studies combining social media and project management have focused on topics such as improved project learning through social media (Rosa et al., 2016; Winter and Chaves, 2017), better intra-project communication or collaboration through social media (Kanagarajoo et al., 2019; Zhang et al., 2018), and social media as a platform for branding a megaproject (Ninan et al., 2019). Although the number of studies is still low, the combined message seems to indicate several possibilities for utilising social media in project management (see also Hysa and Spalek, 2019).
Aims and objectives of the research
This project aims to explore the opportunities that social media could offer to project managers at different stages of transport projects. Three research objectives are to:
• RO-1: Investigate the current state of social media use by project managers
• RO-2: Investigate the impacts of social media on project management
• RO-3: Develop a structured approach for using social medial at different stages
Proposed research methods
Multiple case studies will be the research method. Case studies are useful to study a phenomenon in-depth within a context to retain the holistic and meaningful characteristics of real-life events (Yin, 2014). We will study two cases, as this will allow us to have cross-case analysis and also because multiple cases are analogous to multiple experiments (Eisenhardt, 1989).
We choose to study CBD and South East Light Rail project and Sydney Metro Northwest project, as the project team is familiar with the origin of these projects and has completed a pilot study to use social media to assess benefits realisation in the Sydney Metro Northwest project. These two projects are also selected because both are in the operational phase and have social media presence and activities, thereby enabling us to use social media for study.
Data to be collected will be two sets. First, we plan to use Python and Application Programming Interface provided by the social media platform (e.g. Twitter Search API) to retrieve social media data using pre-defined project keywords and time range. Second, project management data will be collected through interviews. A minimum of five interviews with project managers and team members are anticipated per case. A matching collection and analysis between two sets of data will lead us to achieve the research objectives. In the interviews, project managers will demonstrate how they have used social media in managing their projects at different stages. A cross-analysis on social media data will inform us of how social media has responded to the project management activities, leading to the achievement of RO-1. On the other hand, the analysis of social media data.