2. Selecting the Best Projects

2.1 Identifying Potential Projects

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The first step in selecting the best project involves generating a long list of project options from which to choose. The emphasis at this stage should be placed on being creative and compiling as many ideas as possible; identifying the “right” solutions will come later.

It is critical to avoid narrowly focusing on specific areas of impact or types of solutions. Organizations often lean toward affecting buildings and utility consumption, especially by employing technological solutions. As discussed in the Leadership Capacity section in the Program Setup module, a narrow program focus  is an issue that can be addressed up front with sound leadership as well as the development of an effective vision and objectives. 

Sources of Potential Projects

Ideas can be sparked in many ways. The following provides some insight on a few of the more common and less obvious sources from which potential projects can be identified. 

Internal Sources:

  • Data Collection: the data collection process commonly presents opportunities that simply appear through the process of compiling information.

  • Employee Feedback and Input: employees will often share ideas, challenges and opportunities when engaged through the data collection and analysis process, as well as through ongoing change management activities. Their feedback can illuminate new project ideas.

  • Organizational Plans: being aware of future budgets, planned maintenance and construction projects, new organizational initiatives, supplier contracts set to expire, and other such contextual details can present opportunities for project ideas to be integrated into to what is already scheduled to take place.

  • Data Analysis: assessing a complete body of collected data and developing a solid understanding of each source of impact is likely when most sustainability opportunities will be identified.

External Sources

  • Technological Trends: new developments in technology may present opportunities to better address existing challenges and for new projects to be initiated.

  • Policy Developments: government incentives, rebate programs, tax incentives, as well as new laws and standards can all play a part in triggering the identification of potential projects.

  • Environmental NGOs and Industry Organizations: NGOs and industry organizations focused on sustainability will often promote or help coordinate the launch of pilot programs, studies, or demonstration projects. Often, they are interested in providing support to innovative organizations committed to helping others reduce impact. Lucrative opportunities may be available by participating or a establishing a partnership.

  • Best Practices: the achievements of other organizations and case studies developed around them can present great ideas for potential projects.

Again, in this step, the main goal is to amass an expansive list of potential projects for consideration. It will probably be necessary to encourage people to contribute without the fear of judgment, so focus on creating a safe method that will encourage ideas to be shared.


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