Developing a net-zero carbon project management competency maturity model for infrastructure projects in Australia

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Research Outline

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.

Research Background

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). 

Research 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.

About the Researchers:

Dr. Robert Osei-Kyei is a Senior Lecturer of Construction Project Management at Western Sydney University (WSU). Before joining WSU, he worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Research Assistant and Academic Tutor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. Dr. Osei-Kyei obtained his PhD in Construction Project Management, specializing in Public-Private Partnerships from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2018. He has a BSc (Hons) degree (First Class) in Construction Technology and Management from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, West Africa.

Dr. Osei-Kyei has been conducting research on International Practice of Public-Private Partnership for many years in Africa, Australia, China and Hong Kong. He has successfully published many of his research findings in top-tier journals in the built environment and has been ranked among the world’s top 2% most-cited Scientists by Elsevier BV and Stanford University. Robert has been involved in several research grants/projects funded by local and international institutions including U.K. RICS, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Australia Institute of Project Management, and PGSC Australia in different areas including PPP, mental health, smart and digital construction, and risk management. His research works and publications have received more than 4000 citations with H index of 30 and i10 index 59 in Google Scholar. Robert is a recipient of Schools’ awards for academic excellence in publications and top publication prizes in three consecutive years, i.e. 2019 (SCEM), 2020 (SoBE) and 2021 (SoEDBE). He is also the recipient of the 2023 Early Career Researcher of the Year by SoEDBE. Some key outcomes of Robert’s research have been incorporated into the Government of Ghana guidelines for PPP practice, World Bank PPP guidelines for developing countries and the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors Practice Note. Currently, Robert is supervising 9 PhD students. The PhD projects focus on research themes including PPP, Sustainability,, Digital Construction, Construction Safety and Smart Construction.

Dr. Osei-Kyei is an Associate Editor for International Journal of Construction Management, Infrastrutures Journal MDPI and Innovative Infrastructure Solutions Journal. He is also an International External Assessor for Poland’s National Science Centre (Ministry of Science and Higher Education) Grants, National Research and Development Agency (ANID) of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation of Chile, South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) and Australia Research Council (ARC) Detailed Assessor. He has served as an External Examiner for Postgraduate Thesis for University of South Australia, The University of Auckland, New Zealand, Deakin University, University of Newcastle, Central University of Technology, South Africa and University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He is an active reviewer for many top-tier journals in the built environment. Robert is a recipient of the prestigious Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors’ Best PhD Thesis Award 2017 and the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme 2014/15.