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Project management knowledge and skills for green construction:

Overcoming challenges
Bon-Gang Hwang

, Wei Jian Ng
Department of Building, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117566
Defense Science Technology Agency, Singapore 150167
Received 3 February 2012; received in revised form 20 April 2012; accepted 29 May 2012
A competent project manager is vital to project success. While many studies have examined competency of project managers, few have done so
in the context of green construction. Therefore, this study aims to identify challenges faced by project managers who execute green construction
projects and to determine the critical knowledge areas and skills that are necessary to respond to such challenges. Through literature review,
surveys and interviews with project managers, this study will help establish a knowledge base for project managers to be competitive and to
effectively execute sustainable projects.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. APM and IPMA. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Sustainability; Competency; Project manager; Project management; Knowledge areas; Skills; Challenges; Green construction
1. Introduction
A competent project manager is vital to project success, and
several studies have highlighted critical skills (Avots, 1969;
Belassi and Tukel, 1996; Crawford, 2000; Sayles and Chandler,
1971). Ahadzie (2007) also confirmed the industry's growing
awareness of the relationship between achieving project
success and construction project management competencies.
Successful construction organizations now focus on ensuring
that project managers acquire the core competencies required to
be successful in their assignments. According to Frank (2002),
the project manager has direct influence over 3447% of
project success. Based on these previous studies, it is clear that
project managers play an important role in determining the
success of a project.
An organization can maximize its probability of consistently
attaining project success by recruiting, developing, nurturing
and retaining superior project managers. Working closely with
a range of other professionals, project managers organize, plan,
schedule, and control the work and are responsible for getting
the project completed within established time and cost
limitations (Sears et al., 2008). To manage the project
professionally and successfully, a project manager needs to
possess the required skills and knowledge. Widespread
research studies have documented managerial skills necessary
for efficient project performance. Fryer (1985) listed social
skills, decision-making skills, problem-handling skills, ability
to recognize opportunities, and management of changes as key
personal attributes affecting project success. Given the fast
changing environment of the construction industry with
challenges such as skills shortages, the rapid advancement of
information and communication technologies, and the increas-
ing prioritization of issues such as sustainability, environmental
protection and climate change, the role of the project manager
needs to be adapted.
With the mounting global concern for the negative impacts
brought upon on the environment by human activities in recent
years, many industries are steering towards sustainable develop-
ment and implementing green measures. Building construction
companies fromvarious regions around the world have integrated
green concept into their construction plans to mitigate the impacts

Corresponding author.
E-mail address: bdghbg@nus.edu.sg (B.-G. Hwang).
0263-7863/$36.00 2012 Elsevier Ltd. APM and IPMA. All rights reserved.
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
to the environment (Hwang and Tan, 2010). In fact, Singapore
has made sustainable development a key national priority
(Lutchmeeduth et al., 2010; Singapore Green Building Council,
As the industry changes, project managers find themselves
confronted by new issues and must undertake roles that have not
traditionally been part of their responsibility (Edum-Fotwe and
McCaffer, 2000). Both Ceran and Dorman (1995) and Russell et
al. (1997) recognized the changing role of construction project
managers and argued that they must supplement their traditional
functions with non-engineering knowledge and skills to meet
today's professional demands. Today's project manager fulfills
not only traditional roles of project management but also must
manage the project in the most efficient and effective manner
with respect to sustainability.
As the green building construction phenomenon continues to
grow and gain popularity, there is a need to better understand the
pivotal attributes that project managers should possess to manage
green construction projects. Despite numerous studies on a project
manager's competency, few have specifically examined what
critical knowledge and skills are required for the project manager to
successfully deliver a sustainable project. As a result, with the
intent to enhance sustainability efforts without compromising the
competitiveness of project managers, this study aims (1) to identify
the essential knowledge and skills required to be a competent
project manager of green construction projects; (2) to discover the
challenges that project managers encounter in managing green
construction projects and determine critical knowledge areas and
skills that can respond to the challenges; and finally, (3) to provide
a comparison of critical knowledge areas and skills between
traditional and green construction projects.
2. Competency of the project manager
Dogbegah et al. (2011) cited many studies such as Chen et al.
(2008) and Veres et al. (1990) that focused on project
management competence and aimed to identify determinant
factors and/or criteria for a competent project manager. Chen et
al. (2008) used two principal traditional approaches, worker-
oriented and work-oriented, to distinguish project management
competencies. The former emphasizes workers' attributes, such
as knowledge, skills and abilities, and personal traits, while the
latter treats work as existing independently of the worker,
definable in terms of the technical requirements of work tasks
(Holmes and Joyce, 1993). While competencies can embody an
array of different characteristics, behaviors, and traits necessary
for effective job performance (Abraham et al. 2001), Crawford
(2000) provided an in-depth understanding by proposing three
classifications, namely input competencies, personal competen-
cies and output competencies. According to Crawford (2000),
input competencies refer to the knowledge and skills that a person
brings to a job. Personal competencies are the personal
characteristics underlying a person's capability to execute a job,
while output competencies relate to the performance that a person
exhibits at the job place. These classifications are combined to
assess competence. The classification proposed by Crawford
bears some similarities with the classification proposed by
Ahadzie et al. (2008), especially in relation to personal and output
competencies. Ahadzie et al. (2008) presented a contextual task
typology in which contextual performance behaviors are those
discretionary job-related acts which contribute to organizational
effectiveness but are not formally recognized as part of the job
(Ahadzie et al., 2008; Chen et al., 2008). Contextual performance
behaviors act much like personal competencies, which contribute
to the effectiveness of the job, but are not formally recognized as
part of the job and are best predicted by interpersonal facilitation
and job dedication (Ahadzie, et al., 2008).
Task performance behaviors on the other hand are job-specific
and rewarded normally. A project manager demonstrates task
performance competency through functions such as organizing,
planning, coordinating and controlling. Task performance behav-
iors are best predicted by cognitive ability, job knowledge, task
proficiency and experience. Borman and Motowidlo (1993)
asserted that the major sources of variation in task performance
are attributable to human characteristics such as knowledge, skills
and abilities.
The implication of accepting the contextual-task distinction is
the recognition that the knowledge, skills and habits associated
with these two kinds of behaviors are likely to be different
(Ahadzie et al., 2008). In fact, the evidence suggests that task
performance behaviors are best predicted by individual differ-
ences in, for example, cognitive ability, job knowledge, task
proficiency, and job experience (Ahadzie et al., 2008; Gellatly
and Irving, 2001). Alternatively, contextual performance behav-
iors are best predicted by individual differences in job dedication
and interpersonal facilitation (Conway, 1999). Job dedication is
defined as the motivational foundation for job performance that
drives people to act with the deliberate intention of promoting an
organization's best interest and includes self-disciplined behav-
iors such as following rules, working hard, and taking initiative.
Interpersonal facilitation refers to those attributes that help
maintain the interpersonal and social context needed to support
job effectiveness (Van Scotter and Motowidlo, 1996).
While personality traits can also be used to predict the
performance of the construction project manager, a key
benefit of using behavioral competencies is their ability to
provide insight into the underlying dispositions effecting the
project manager's professional development (Borman and
Motowidlo, 1993; Hayes et al., 2000). Unlike general traits,
behavioral competencies are more likely to be amenable to
change through training, for example. That is, behavioral
competencies are learned rather than inherent characteristics
(Skipper and Bell, 2006). In summary, the attributes of a
project manager for this paper comprises of project manage-
ment knowledge areas and skills.
3. Kowledge areas and skills of project manager
Project Management Institute (PMI) first documented its nine
knowledge areas (Integration, Time, Cost, Procurement, Quality,
Communication, Human Resource, Scope and Risk) in the Guide
to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)
in 1987 in an attempt to document and standardize generally
accepted project management information and practices (PMI,
273 B.-G. Hwang, W.J. Ng / International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
2008). Each of the nine knowledge areas contains processes that
need to be accomplished within its discipline in order to achieve an
effective project management program. For instance, project cost
management encompasses processes that are required to ensure the
project is completed within the approved budget and consists of
resource planning, cost estimating, cost budgeting and cost control.
Likewise, project risk management is the process concerned with
identifying, analyzing and responding to project risk. Activities
include risk identification, risk quantification, response develop-
ment, and control.
Project management competency is attained by the combi-
nation of knowledge acquired during training, skills developed
through experience, and the application of the acquired
knowledge. The knowledge areas required by project managers
in practice, however, transcend the scope covered by accred-
itation bodies and are likely to be more complex and diverse
than in most other industries (Ahadzie et al. 2008). The project
manager must first possess knowledge of the technical aspects
of the industry to an extent that he or she understands the
product and service being built and delivered. According to
Edum-Fotwe and McCaffer (2000) much of the knowledge
needed to manage construction projects is unique to project
management such as critical path analysis and project cash flow
forecasting. This demands appreciating a context much wider
than the subject boundaries defined by the certification re-
quirements. Modern project management practice therefore
demands other general and management knowledge, coupled
with skills that extend beyond the technical aspects of traditional
engineering areas (Edum-Fotwe and McCaffer, 2000).
Dogbegah et al. (2011) identified 18 project management
competency areas, and the argument in the finding is that
project management must be conceptualized beyond the
commonly emphasized project administration expertise. The
knowledge areas identified by previous studies are summarized
in Table 1.
Edum-Fotwe and McCaffer (2000) stated that acquiring the
knowledge inputs for a particular type of project enables the
project manager to develop two types of skills. These are
specific skills, which relate directly and only to construction
projects and, in particular, the areas that reflect their specialty,
and general skills, which are transferable from the construction
arena to other fields, but more importantly from one type of
construction to another. The general skills provide much of the
foundation for developing project management skills. They are
often essential for the project manager to function effectively
with knowledge specialists. Table 2 lists the essential skills
required for an effective project manager based on previous
Most of the earlier research papers share similarities in
identifying direct and indirect skills that affect the project
manager's competency. Direct skills usually refer to technical
competencies that have a direct influence on project perfor-
mance. For instance, the planning skill is utilized for scheduling
activities in order to meet a project's deadline. Direct skills are
directly associated with project management knowledge areas,
and consequently, communication management competency is
demonstrated via effective communication skills. Indirect skills
such as managerial effectiveness, for example, do have an
indirect influence on project performance. In fact, leadership
skills are needed perhaps as much as planning skills to ensure
that workers execute their work in order to meet the project's
4. Green building construction
The construction of a green building can be part of an overall
plan for sustainable corporate development. According to Kubba
(2010), green buildings are designed for optimum energy
efficiency and are constructed with a preference for natural,
reclaimed, and recycled materials. These buildings provide
healthier, more comfortable and productive indoor environments
for occupants by maximizing the efficient usage of resources like
energy, water, and raw materials. The American Society of
Testing and Material (ASTM, 2009) maintains that green
Table 1
Summary of knowledge areas.
Essential knowledge areas Project Management
Institute (2008)
et al. (2011)
Gushgar et al.
Schedule management and planning x x x x x x
Cost management x x x
Quality management x x x x x
Human resources management x x x x
Risk management x x
Supply chain management x x
Claims management x
Knowledge management x x
Health and safety management x x
Conflict and dispute management x x
Ethical management x
Stakeholder management x x
Information technology management x x
Communication management x x x x
Materials resources management x x
Financial management x x x
Plant and equipment resources management x x
274 B.-G. Hwang, W.J. Ng / International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
buildings provide the specified building performance require-
ments while minimizing disturbance and improving the function
of local, regional and global ecosystems both during and after its
construction and specified service life. Burnett (2007) describes
that the ideal green building should have five major features:
integration with local ecosystems; closed loop material systems;
maximum use of passive design and renewable energy;
optimization of building hydrologic cycles; and full implemen-
tation of indoor environmental quality measures. This ideal green
building approach should be the aim of both the owner and the
project managers.
In the recent years, a global emphasis has been placed on
green buildings and this phenomenon is evident in Singapore
with the launch of the Green Mark scheme in 2005 by the
Building and Construction Authority (BCA). As sustainable
development remains a key national priority going forward, the
2nd Green Building Masterplan was launched to set up specific
initiatives to achieve a sustainable built environment in
Singapore by 2030. The target is to have at least 80% of the
buildings in Singapore attain a certified BCA Green Mark
rating by 2030 (BCA, 2010). As of April 2011, statistics from
the BCA Green Mark webpage revealed that there are more
than 750 Green Mark certified buildings in Singapore (BCA,
As the number of green buildings increases, so does the need
for competent specialists to design, construct, manage and
maintain specialized green facilities and services. As a result,
the BCA introduced the Certified Green Mark Professional
program, which is a training and recognition program that
expands the industry's capability in the area of Sustainable
Design and Development (BCA Academy, 2011). Designed as
a voluntary career opportunity for building professionals, the
program recognizes individuals with competencies in green
building design and practices. Candidates seeking accreditation
as certified Green Mark Professionals (GMP) with the BCA
complete the certification course. The GMP course is offered as
a series of short modules, focused on design concepts, practical
green solutions and technologies, and the use of building
simulation tools to predict building performance.
5. Challenges faced in green construction projects
Deriving from the comprehensive literature review carried
out for this study, Table 3 summarizes the major challenges that
project managers face in managing green construction projects.
5.1. Higher costs for green construction practices and materials
As compared to conventional projects, green projects tend to
cost more to construct. According to an estimate by Tagaza and
Wilson (2004) capital costs for green projects range from 1 to
25% higher. The higher costs are due to design complexity, and
the modeling costs needed to integrate green practices into
projects (Zhang et al., 2011). Higher costs are also associated
with green materials and using green construction technologies
(Hwang and Tan, 2010). Zhang et al. (2011) calculated that
using green materials costs from 3% to 4% more than
conventional construction materials. Some green materials
cost significantly more than their conventional counterparts,
compressed wheat board costs about 10 times more than
ordinary plywood (Hwang and Tan, 2010). The higher costs of
green construction directly affect the project manager, because
they are responsible for managing and delivering their projects
within an allocated budget (Ling, 2003).
Table 2
Summary of skills.
Essential skills Edum-Fotwe and McCaffer (2000) Odusami (2002) Gushgar et al. (1997) Fraser (1999) Tett et al. (2000)
Basic technical skill x x x x
Site layout and mobilization x x
Estimating and tendering x x
Design activities and background x x
Reading and understanding drawings x x
Technical writing x x
Leadership x x x
Decision making x x x x
Problem solving x x x x
Negotiation x x x
Human behavior x
Delegation x x x x x
Team working x x x
Stress handling x x
IT skills x
Drafting contracts x x
Presentation x x
Report writing x x
Public speaking x x
Marketing and sales x
Chairing meetings x x
Public relation x x x
275 B.-G. Hwang, W.J. Ng / International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
5.2. Technical difficulty during the construction process
A project manager implements a project plan by authorizing
the execution of activities to produce project deliverables (Ling,
2003). Often, green technologies require complicated tech-
niques and construction processes (Zhang et al., 2011). If
complexities are not addressed well, then it may affect the
project manager's performance. Tagaza and Wilson (2004)
suggested that one of the main challenges in green building
should be the technical difficulties experienced during the
construction process. Similarly, design can be more complicat-
ed than that of a conventional building due to the evaluation of
alternative materials and systems (Hwang and Tan, 2010).
5.3. Risk due to different contract forms of project delivery
Tagaza and Wilson (2004) reported that the success of
developing and implementing a green design depended greatly
on the type of contract selected for the delivery of the project
(2004). The type of contract used in green projects must
incorporate the details of a fully integrated green design. This
creates a problem if the design is locked before being
developed fully (Tagaza and Wilson, 2004). Multiple changes
of significant scale are likely if green features are incorporated
at a later stage, resulting in a greater overall project cost
(Hwang and Tan, 2010).
5.4. Lengthy approval process for new green technologies and
recycled materials
The market environment suggests that the planning process
can be protracted as the process of approving the use of new
green technologies and recycled materials can be lengthy
(Tagaza and Wilson, 2004). Similarly, surveys conducted by
Zhang et al. (2011) and Eisenberg et al. (2002) show that
additional time is expected in order to gain approval. A lengthy
approval process presents a challenge to project managers as
they must develop the schedule and approve progress payments
to vendors and suppliers (Ling, 2003).
5.5. Unfamiliarity with green technologies
Many studies have verified that green technologies pose
certain obstacles for developers, clients and contractors. Two
reasons suggested by Eisenberg et al. (2002) are insufficient
knowledge or technical expertise and unfamiliarity with the
products, materials, system, or design. The main challenge is
that green technologies are usually more complicated and are
different from conventional technologies (Tagaza and Wilson,
2004). This was confirmed by Zhang et al. (2011). A project
manager has to deliver the project with the required perfor-
mance specified by the client (Ling, 2003), and unfamiliarity
with the performance of green technologies may affect the
performance outcome.
5.6. Greater communication and interest required amongst
project team members
To be successful, the project manager must manage a large
number of suppliers, subcontractors and team members.
Communication is especially critical for the green project in
order to convey the sustainable practices expected from the
team members. Interest amongst team members is important.
Tagaza and Wilson (2004) found that the initial enthusiasm for
separating waste materials amongst sub-contractors dissipated
as the project progressed and the recycling skips were found to
contain a mix of materials.
5.7. More time required to implement green construction
practices on site
Random checks and on-site visits by project managers are
usually required to ensure that sustainable practices are
implemented on-site (Tagaza and Wilson, 2004). This is
essential because workers may tend to forego time-consuming
sustainable practices when there are time pressures to complete
a project.
6. Methodology and data presentation
Having carried out a comprehensive literature review on the
essential knowledge and skills required for competent project
managers who execute green projects, a pre-survey question-
naire was developed. The pre-survey questionnaire aimed to
validate 39 knowledge and skill areas that had been identified
through the literature review. Using the mean value ranking
method, the top 20 knowledge and skill areas were selected and
eventually adopted for the main survey. Ultimately, a total of
52 completed survey questionnaires were received, tabulated
and analyzed. In summary, the distribution of the respondents'
Table 3
Challenges faced in green construction projects.
Challenges Zhang et al.
Tagaza and Wilson
Hwang and
Tan (2010)
Eisenberg et al.
Higher costs for green construction practices and green material x x x
Technical difficulty during the construction process x x
Risk due to different contract forms of project delivery x x
Lengthy planning and approval process for new green technologies and recycled materials x x x
Unfamiliarity with green technologies x x x
Greater communication and interest are required amongst project team members x x
More time is required to implement green construction practices onsite x x
276 B.-G. Hwang, W.J. Ng / International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
years of experience in project management was found to be as
follows: up to 5 years (11.5%), 610 years (26.9%), 11
15 years (21.2%), 1620 years (26.9%) and above 20 years
In addition, interviews with industry experts were conducted
to fine-tune the list of challenges that project managers face in
managing green construction projects. The interviewees
discussed the challenges identified in the literature review.
These results enhanced the understanding of the rationale for
the challenges that were to be included in the survey. This study
engaged three project managers from different companies for
interview, all of them having more than 10 years of experience
in managing construction projects.
The purpose of the main survey was (1) to discover the
challenges that project managers encounter in green construc-
tion and (2) to identify critical attributes that project managers
need to possess in managing green construction projects. The
results from the pre-survey and interviews served as a platform
in developing the main survey questionnaire. The first section
of the survey questionnaire captured the respondent's profile.
The second section listed the challenges that project managers
face in managing green construction projects. The respondents
were asked to rate the extent to which each of the challenges
affected them using a 5-point Likert scale (1=not relevant at
all; 5=most relevant). The next section asked the respondents
to rate the importance of project manager attributes in
responding to the different challenges identified in the second
section of the survey (1=not important at all; 5=most
important). The last section requested the respondents to rate
the relative importance of the attributes in comparison to
traditional construction projects. This question aimed to
identify the importance of each project management knowledge
area and skill that a project manager has to strengthen in order
to be competent in a green construction project when compared
to traditional projects. Out of the 500 questionnaires sent out,
30 sets of completed survey questionnaires were received and
analyzed. The response rate was relatively low as only the
responses from the respondents who had experience in
managing green construction projects were considered valid.
All the respondents had more than 4 years of experience in
managing traditional projects and had some experience with
green construction projects (up to 1 year, 7%; 12 years, 17%;
23 years, 23%; 34 years, 23%; more than 4 years, 30%). The
data also captured the type and nature of a total of 68 green
construction projects managed by the respondents throughout
their careers. There were 23 commercial projects (34%), 19
residential projects (28%) and 26 educational projects (38%).
The majority (84%) of the projects recorded from the survey
involved new construction with the remaining (16%) being
addition and alteration projects.
7. Analysis on challenges
The following subsections discuss the analysis results on the
various challenges that project managers face during green
construction project management. Table 4 summarizes the
results with specific challenges categorized into seven areas,
their mean scores, and ranks within and across the categories.
7.1. Planningrelated challenges
Most challenges faced by project managers executing green
construction projects are planning-related. The longer time
required for the pre-construction process, P6, yielded the
highest mean score of 4.57, indicating that it is the most
frequently encountered challenge. The difficulty in compre-
hending green specifications given in the contract details, P7,
was ranked second highest while the lengthy approval process
to approve new technologies, P5, was ranked as the least
critical planning-related challenge, with a mean value of 2.43.
According to Kubba (2010), over time green building projects
progressively incorporate more advanced and intricate systems.
During design, the impact of the elements on each systemmust be
considered as a whole. A failure to take into account the
integration of green technologies and its impact on other building
elements results in construction conflicts, leading to delay in order
to address such problems. The interviewees from this study
verified that the pre-construction period of a green construction
project usually requires more time as compared to traditional
construction projects. The reason is due to the need for a more
detailed and comprehensive design plan, which incorporates all
the green features required by the construction project. This often
means more involvement and interaction with different stake-
holder groups, which may also slow down the pre-construction
process. The interviewees emphasized the importance that during
the design development stage, the design team needs more time to
study the design system performance against the stated green
building goals. Most green technologies are relatively new to the
construction industry and their system performance is not well
known. Furthermore, greater efforts are needed to ensure that the
green features that are incorporated into the design consider
sources for cheaper, but still efficient green options. Furthermore,
the design, orientation, and structure of the building (P2) must
play a key part in selecting the most effective green features to be
employed in a given building. For instance, solar panels should be
located in places where there is maximum sunlight. Although
green construction projects often have green consultants and green
engineers, the project manager must have the ability to assess the
factors at hand and come to the best solutions for the project.
7.2. Projectrelated challenges
Among all the listed challenges in the category of project-
related challenges, T3, difficulties associated with the selection
of subcontractors who provide green construction had the
highest mean of 4.50.
Selection of subcontractors for traditional construction
projects may be less difficult for experienced project managers
who are familiar with the performance of subcontractors with
whom they have worked in the past. It is also likely that there is
insufficient performance information for subcontractors who
are involved in green construction projects. As a result, the
selection process becomes tougher and may take more time. As
277 B.-G. Hwang, W.J. Ng / International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
for the second ranked challenge, which identified alterations
and variations associated with the design during the construc-
tion process as a significant issue, one of the interviewees
suggested that this element ranks highly because there seemed
to be more of such changes in green construction projects. One
possible explanation is the inconsistency of the drawings as
provided by the architect and the ultimate design that
incorporates the green features. To respond to this challenge,
project managers must coordinate more intensively with
stakeholders in order to deliver the project successfully.
7.3. Clientrelated challenges
As shown in Table 4, understanding the objective that the
client wants to achieve with the green building, C2, had the
highest mean of 4.01. One interviewee emphasized the
importance for project managers to understand the objectives
of their clients, especially when the client wants to achieve a
certified green mark. In order to achieve the goal, the client
should specify the type of green technology to be used although
this too may pose a challenge if the specified green technology
is not available locally. Also, the level of risk that the client is
willing to undertake can be another challenge for the project
manager. Project managers are responsible for ensuring that the
green technologies applied in the project are safe, especially if
the client has a low threshold for risk. In some cases green
consultants may try to convince the client to adopt a particular
system. The client may need more than the usual amount of
time to make decisions on whether or not to implement such a
7.4. Project teamrelated challenges
The analysis results in Table 4 reported that PT3, frequent
meetings with green specialists, is one of the most critical
project teamrelated challenges faced by project managers. An
interviewee confirmed that there are an increased number of
meetings required for a green construction project because an
intense alliance with green specialists is necessary to fine-tune
emergent issues. Some interviewees also noted that necessary
information from specialists tended to be delayed (PT4),
affecting the entire project schedule. Furthermore, despite the
Table 4
Analysis summary: Challenges.
Category Challenge Code Mean Rank within
Rank cross
Planning-related Adoption of different contract forms of project delivery P1 3.20 6 28
The design, orientation and structure of the building P2 3.33 5 27
Planning of different construction sequence P3 4.20 3 8
Planning of different construction technique P4 4.13 4 10
Lengthy approval process for new green technologies within the organization P5 2.43 7 36
Longer time required during the pre-construction process P6 4.57 1 1
Difficulty in comprehending the green specifications in the contract details P7 4.27 2 7
Project-related Difficulty in approving payment disbursement to suppliers and subcontractors T1 3.07 4 33
Difficulty in assessing the progress of completion in green construction T2 2.97 5 34
Difficulty in the selection of subcontractors in providing green construction service T3 4.50 1 2
More time is required to implement green construction practices onsite T4 3.97 3 15
More alteration and variation with the design during the construction process T5 4.37 2 6
Client-related Specific budget specification of the green project C1 3.77 4 20
Objective of the building project C2 4.01 1 14
Required date of completion C3 3.67 5 21
Level of risk the client is willing to take in green technologies C4 3.97 2 16
Client uses a lot of time in making decision C5 3.63 6 22
Special request from client pertaining to specified green technologies to be used C6 3.93 3 18
Project team-related Conflict with the architect over the type of material to be used PT1 3.17 4 29
Lack of communication and interest among project team members PT2 4.10 2 11
Frequent meetings with green specialists PT3 4.37 1 5
Green consultant delay in providing information PT4 3.13 5 30
Conflict of interest between consultant and project manager PT5 3.53 3 24
Specific performance required for green building projects PT6 2.53 6 35
Material and equipment-related High cost in green material and equipment M1 4.43 2 4
Uncertainty with green material and equipment M2 4.50 1 3
Availability of green material and equipment M3 4.01 4 13
Decision on different green material and equipment M4 4.07 3 12
Imported green material or equipment M5 3.97 5 17
Labor-related Resistance to change from their traditional practices L1 3.60 1 23
Lack of the technical skill regarding green technologies and techniques L2 3.37 3 26
Workers' unaware of the correct methods and procedures L3 3.50 2 25
External Government policy E1 3.87 2 19
Lengthy BCA approval process for new technologies E2 3.10 3 31
More time required for TOP due to green mark certification process by BCA E3 3.07 4 32
Unforeseen circumstances in green project E4 4.20 1 8
278 B.-G. Hwang, W.J. Ng / International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
need for closer collaboration within project teams, project
managers reported issues with the lack of communication and
interest among project team members (PT2).
7.5. Material and equipmentrelated challenges
In terms of material and equipment-related challenges, the
respondents cited uncertainties with green material and
equipment, M2 (Mean=4.50), as the most relevant challenge
that they faced. All interviewees expressed concern over the
reliability of green materials and equipment as most of these
new technologies do not have a proven track record. The
second highest challenge was cited as the cost of green
materials, M1. Research done by Zhang et al. (2011) argued
that using green materials would cost from 3% to 4% more than
conventional construction materials. Selection of the green
materials has to be cost-conscious in order to prevent budget
overruns. Unlike conventional construction materials, the
availability of many green materials may not be available
locally. Problems arising from imported material may include
understanding the legal regulations of the various countries.
Furthermore, to ensure that an imported material will be
compatible for local use, extensive testing may be required.
7.6. Laborrelated challenges
In the category of labor-related challenges, workers'
resistance to changing their traditional practices (L1) was the
most critical challenge faced by project managers. Although the
project managers may not directly deal with the workers on site,
their work plays a significant role in the success of the project.
If the workers lack the necessary technical skills (L2) or are
unaware of the correct procedures (L3), they may have a
negative impact on achieving project success.
7.7. External challenges
External challenges can impact a project in many ways.
Unforeseen circumstances (E4) may be even less predictable in
green construction projects as compared to conventional
construction projects. Green construction projects are still
relatively new in Singapore, and consequently, the team
members and workers have little experience. When faced with
unforeseen circumstances, project managers may not be
equipped with any prior knowledge to handle the situation.
One interviewee quoted an instance whereby the client had
decided to aim for a higher green mark score, switching from
gold to platinum, in the midst of the construction project. This
unforeseen change created a considerable challenge to the
project managers in rescheduling the construction process
according to the new design and requirements. Understanding
governmental policies related to green construction project (E1)
is also vital and was ranked highly. Strict policies and
regulations are designed to protect human health and environ-
mental issues and failure to comply may cause project delay,
termination and fines. Even if green consultants are involved
during most of the green construction project, it is paramount
that project managers have a good understanding of the
8. Analysis of knowledge areas and skills to meet the
This section presents the results of the survey analysis.
Knowledge and skill areas that project managers need in order
to effectively deal with the challenges of green construction are
discussed. Tables 5 and 6 list the knowledge and skills as
identified through literature review and verified by the pre-
survey process.
8.1. Knowledge areas and skills for the planningrelated
As shown in Table 5, the survey responses revealed that the
top 3 knowledge areas critical to project planning-related
challenges are (1) schedule management and planning; (2)
communication management; and (3) risk management. As
discussed, more time is usually required during the pre-project
planning process for green projects. Therefore, project man-
agers must be effective at schedule and planning management
to ensure that the project will be completed in time. An
interviewee suggested that a balance has to be achieved to
ensure that cheaper alternatives are sourced while keeping up
with the schedule. Furthermore, sequencing for green construc-
tion may require the project managers to be more detailed when
planning the project. Communication management is also
important as project managers have to ensure that information
is communicated effectively to all the various parties involved
in the pre-project process including green specialists and
Analytical skill was found to be the most important skill
required to address pre-projectrelated challenges, as shown in
Table 6. An interviewee mentioned that it is crucial for the
project managers to analyze the whole situation and come up
with an integrated project schedule that is achievable and
8.2. Knowledge areas and skills for the projectrelated challenges
Table 5 shows that for project-related challenges, the
respondents ranked schedule management and planning as the
most important knowledge area, followed by risk management.
Risk management is particularly important because it can assist
in the selection of the subcontractors who provide technologies
and techniques required for green construction. Project managers
have to be aware of the risks involved and careful consideration
must be given to the selection of a new subcontractor.
Nonetheless, a longer risk assessment and decision-making
process can cause delay. Additions and alterations to the
construction scope may also affect the planned project schedule.
Project managers need to be equipped with good schedule and
planning knowledge to cope with these challenges. The most
important skill to manage projectrelated challenges was found to
be decision-making with a mean score of 4.6 (Table 6). This
279 B.-G. Hwang, W.J. Ng / International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
result could be explained by the need for project managers to
make the best possible decision on the selection of specific
technologies, systems and subcontractors required for green
8.3. Knowledge areas and skills for the client-related challenges
Table 5 shows that stakeholder management is ranked as the
most important knowledge area to address the client-related
challenges. This result could be explained by the importance
of understanding the client's objectives as it was confirmed by
the interviewees. Clients are considered to be one of the
stakeholders in a project and the ability to manage them by
understanding their needs and objectives is essential to project
success. Cost management was also ranked highly. One
interviewee mentioned that it is his company's practice to
keep a green building construction project within budget
despite the high cost involved, but this was accomplished by
achieving the most basic Green Mark requirement and fulfilling
the minimum Building Control (Environment Sustainability)
Regulations, unless the client requested a higher certification
level such as Green Mark Gold or Platinum. It could be argued
that stakeholder management and cost management can be
equally important as they are applied simultaneously to react to
client-related challenges.
The analytical skill was reported as the most important skill
for managing the client-related challenges. This could imply that
competent analysis is crucial to analyze and manage stakeholder
requirements and to come up with the best solutions.
8.4. Knowledge areas and skills for the project teamrelated
Knowledge of communication management was ranked first
with a mean of 4.30. Since green projects require a more
holistic and integrated approach, the design process is more
complex and the design phases often overlap with construction
(Glavinich, 2008). Some of the interviewees reported the need
for everyone in the project team to be well informed with the
project's goals and objectives in order to prevent errors.
Table 5
Analysis summary: Critical management knowledge areas.
Management knowledge area Category of challenges
Project-related Client-related Project
Material and
Labor-related External
Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank
Schedule management and planning 4.37 1 4.53 1 4.17 5 3.17 9 3.00 9 3.53 3 4.00 1
Health and safety management 3.93 5 4.07 4 3.60 7 3.23 8 3.50 6 2.80 7 2.70 7
Human resources management 3.60 8 3.60 9 3.53 9 3.53 5 3.37 8 4.40 1 3.07 5
Stakeholder management 3.80 7 3.87 7 4.37 1 4.03 3 3.83 4 3.23 6 3.23 4
Cost management 3.83 6 4.30 3 4.23 2 3.43 6 4.67 1 2.67 8 2.60 8
Communication management 4.27 2 3.87 6 4.20 3 4.30 1 3.53 5 4.00 2 3.63 2
Conflict and dispute management 4.03 4 3.93 5 3.73 6 4.17 2 3.43 7 3.53 4 2.83 6
Risk management 4.17 3 4.33 2 4.20 4 4.03 4 4.03 3 3.50 5 3.50 3
Materials resources management 3.57 9 3.70 8 3.57 8 3.23 7 4.40 2 2.43 10 2.47 10
Claims management 3.13 10 3.23 10 3.27 10 2.90 10 2.87 10 2.67 9 2.60 9
Table 6
Analysis summary: Critical management skills.
Management skill Category of challenges
Project-related Client-related Project team-
Material and
Labor-related External
Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank Mean Rank
Delegation 4.37 2 4.47 2 3.93 5 3.60 8 3.73 5 4.40 1 2.83 8
Leadership 3.67 8 3.77 7 4.23 2 3.93 3 3.40 6 4.07 2 3.07 5
Decision making 4.33 5 4.53 1 3.83 6 3.83 6 4.30 1 3.07 7 3.30 3
Problem solving 4.37 4 4.33 3 4.17 3 3.73 7 3.83 3 3.17 6 4.10 1
Team working 4.20 6 4.10 6 3.77 8 4.27 1 2.87 7 3.47 3 2.87 7
Analytical 4.50 1 4.33 4 4.50 1 3.53 9 4.07 2 3.00 8 3.50 2
Presentation 3.50 9 3.07 10 3.17 10 3.23 10 2.30 9 2.23 10 2.10 10
Human behavior 3.33 10 3.57 8 3.80 7 3.87 4 2.50 8 3.33 4 3.03 6
Negotiation 4.37 3 4.20 5 4.17 4 4.10 2 3.77 4 3.23 5 3.20 4
Chairing meetings 3.70 7 3.47 9 3.27 9 3.83 5 2.30 10 2.37 9 2.27 9
280 B.-G. Hwang, W.J. Ng / International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
Conflict and dispute management was ranked second, as shown
in Table 5. Conflict with other project team members may be
unavoidable and project managers must be equipped to
effectively manage conflict without affecting the progress of
the project.
The survey results identified team work as the most important
skill in this category (Table 6). Since challenges in this category are
related to the project team, it is reasonable that project managers
who are equipped with good team building skills could enhance
team cohesiveness, improving the overall team performance.
8.5. Knowledge areas and skills for the material and
equipmentrelated challenges
Based on Table 5, knowledge of cost management
(mean=4.67) was ranked first for dealing with material and
equipment-related challenges, followed by material resources
management (mean=4.40), and risk management (mean=4.03).
It is crucial for project managers to have a good understanding of
cost management in order to effectively manage costly green
materials and to prevent cost overruns. One of the interviewees
pointed out that to ensure that costs stay within budget, cost
estimates should be as close to the actual sum as possible during
the project planning stage. Project managers have to quantify the
costs and benefits of using green materials, despite market
uncertainties, and assess the risk involved in their acquisition.
One interviewee reported an example of this cost versus risk
decision. The employment of an innovative product could yield a
high Green Mark score, but at the same time posed a high risk of
product failure because it lacked a proven track record. In fact,
Table 6 shows that the decision-making skill is the most critical to
effectively mitigate material and equipment-related challenges.
Effective decision making also implies making the right choice
within the shortest time to prevent delays.
8.6. Knowledge areas and skills for labor-related challenges
As shown in Table 5, project managers need to understand
human resource management (mean=4.40) and communica-
tion management (mean=4.00) in order to effectively address
labor-related challenges. PMI also endorses human resource
management as important for dealing with laborrelated
challenges (PMI 2002). Project managers have to provide
appropriate and timely training for their workers and in addition
to other topics, some workers may need training on green
construction. Communication management is vital to dissem-
inating information and work procedures so that the workers
can carry out their work effectively. The information must be
correct and timely to prevent mistakes. This result is also along
with the analysis on the critical skills that can mitigate the
laborrelated challenges, as shown in Table 6.
8.7. Knowledge areas and skills for the external challenges
The respondents ranked knowledge of schedule and
planning management as the most important to respond to
external challenges (Table 5). With good planning knowledge,
project managers may be able to allocate contingency time to
buffer unforeseen situations and the lengthy approval process.
It is notable that there are several knowledge areas with mean
values below 3 in this category. This may imply that the
external challenges posed to project managers would not be
fully managed by enhancing only the listed knowledge areas.
The required skill for addressing external challenges was
problem solving (Table 6), suggesting that they may pose a
great amount of uncertainty and thus project managers need to
be equipped with the skills to manage unexpected events.
9. Knoledge areas and skills: Traditional vs. green projects
In the survey, respondents provided their assessment of
knowledge areas and skills necessary for both green and
traditional construction. The following sections present a
comparison of their responses.
9.1. Knowledge areas
As shown in Table 7, knowledge of schedule management
and planning for traditional building projects yielded the
highest mean score of 4.77, followed by knowledge of health
and safety management (mean=4.73), and knowledge of
human resource management (mean=4.60). On the other
hand, for green building construction projects knowledge of
cost (mean=4.90) and communication (mean=4.80) manage-
ment were considered more critical than schedule management
and planning (mean=4.77).
To further examine the rankings between traditional and
green building projects, the Spearman's rank correlation was
calculated and its statistical significance was tested. The result
reported that the rank correlation is 0.037 with the p-value
being 0.920, suggesting that there is no significant relationship
in the ranking of the knowledge areas between the two groups.
The reason for this disparity may be due to more emphasis
placed on other aspects of green building construction projects.
For instance, knowledge of cost management is important to
green construction projects due to the higher cost of green
materials, new systems and technologies, and specific equip-
ment used for the projects. This result may prove that
knowledge required for project manager competency varies
by context, and green projects require different proficiencies
than traditional construction.
9.2. Skills
As shown in Table 8, decision-making, delegation, and
analytical skills are ranked as the top 3 most important skills for
green construction projects with a mean score of 4.87, 4.80, and
4.767, respectively. For traditional construction projects, the
mean score for decision-making skill is 4.57, delegation is 4.90
and analytical is 4.40. The Spearman's rank correlation (0.675)
indicates a fairly strong correlation between the two groups with a
p-value of 0.032, which proves that the rank correlation is
statistically significant. This means that the level of importance of
281 B.-G. Hwang, W.J. Ng / International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
the skills was perceived by the respondents to be similar for
traditional and green projects.
10. Conclusion and recommendations
Global concerns over climate change and sustainability have
spurred the need for green buildings in the construction
industry. In Singapore, all new buildings and major building
renovations should achieve the minimum Green Mark standard,
as mandated by legislation in 2008. Since project managers
play an important role in the success of construction projects, it
is therefore essential to identify the critical knowledge and
skills that a project manager needs to effectively execute a
green construction project. As a result, the objectives of this
study were (1) to identify the essential knowledge and skills
required to be a competent project manager of green
construction projects; (2) to discover the challenges that project
managers encounter in managing green construction projects
and determine critical knowledge areas and skills that can
respond to the challenges; and finally, (3) to provide a
comparison of critical knowledge areas and skills between
traditional and green construction projects.
The literature review provided the essential knowledge areas
and skills of competent project managers. It also revealed that
the project managers may face challenges such as higher costs
on green construction projects and that there are elevated risks
due to different forms of project delivery and the lengthy
planning and approval process for new green technologies and
The analysis of the responses from the survey and the
interviews revealed the top 10 challenges, which are critical to
project managers in managing green construction projects: (1) the
longer time required during the pre-construction process; (2)
difficulty in the selection of subcontractors who provide green
construction services; (3) uncertainty with green materials and
equipment; (4) the high cost of green materials and equipment;
(5) increased meetings and coordination required with green
consultants and engineers; (6) more frequent alterations and
variations with the design during the construction process; (7)
difficulty in comprehending the green specifications in the
contract details; (8) unforeseen circumstances in executing green
projects; (9) planning of non-traditional construction sequences;
and (10) planning of different construction techniques.
Critical knowledge areas and skills that are essential to
respond to the challenges were also identified. The most
important knowledge areas were schedule management and
planning, stakeholder management, communication manage-
ment, cost management, and human resources management. In
addition, the most important skills that are required to mitigate
the challenges were analytical, decision-making, team working,
delegation, and problem-solving skills.
Furthermore, the comparison of the knowledge areas and
skills between traditional and green construction projects
revealed that there are specific knowledge areas that should
be strengthened in order to effectively manage green construc-
tion projects. This may be because more emphasis is placed on
specific aspects of green building construction projects.
The major contribution of this study is to identify more
critical knowledge areas and skills required to perform green
construction projects, from the perspective of project managers
as well as in the context of green construction features that
cause various challenges to project managers. While the skills
and knowledge areas elaborated in the first couple of sections
of this paper have been well recognized by the industry, there
have been rare studies that explore and emphasize specific and
focused knowledge areas and skills that project managers who
manage green projects should be equipped with, based on the
existing body of knowledge. Through the findings from this
study, the construction industry may gain an understanding of
Table 7
Management knowledge areas: Traditional vs. green Projects.
Management knowledge area Traditional Green Rank correlation P-value
Mean Rank Mean Rank
Cost management 4.57 5 4.90 1 0.037 0.920
Communication management 4.17 9 4.80 2
Schedule management and planning 4.77 1 4.77 3
Health and safety management 4.73 2 4.77 4
Risk management 4.33 7 4.67 5
Conflict and dispute management 4.23 8 4.43 6
Stakeholder management 4.57 4 4.40 7
Materials resources management 4.37 6 4.33 8
Claims management 4.10 10 4.23 9
Human resources management 4.60 3 4.23 10
Table 8
Management skills: Traditional vs. green projects.
Management skill Traditional Green Rank correlation P-value
Mean Rank Mean Rank
Decision making 4.57 5 4.87 1 0.675 0.032
Delegation 4.90 1 4.80 2
Analytical 4.40 6 4.77 3
Team working 4.67 3 4.70 4
Problem solving 4.57 4 4.67 5
Leadership 4.83 2 4.60 6
Negotiation 4.23 8 4.43 7
Human behavior 4.03 10 4.37 8
Chairing meetings 4.17 9 4.23 9
Presentation 4.30 7 4.13 10
282 B.-G. Hwang, W.J. Ng / International Journal of Project Management 31 (2013) 272284
the attributes of a competent project manager in relation to
green construction projects. Also, the importance level of the
attributes could serve as a guide to companies and learning
institutions for developing training syllabi that target and focus
on the more critical attributes.
Although the objectives of this study were achieved, there are
some limitations to conclusions that may be drawn from the
results. As the analyses were performed with small samples,
caution is warranted when the results are generalized. It was also
observed that the survey respondents with more experience in
green construction projects tended to give lower ratings for the
challenges as compared to those with lesser experience. Further
study may be required to control for and balance respondents'
years of experience in green construction. Also, this study is
limited to the view point of project managers in Singapore.
For future studies, it would be of interest to identify attributes
that are required for a project manager from the perspective of
other stakeholders such as clients, developers, government
associations and construction contractors. With different per-
spectives, future studies could develop a competency framework.
Also, it is recommended to carry out further studies on how to
improve and strengthen the critical knowledge areas and skills
identified in this study. By doing so, project managers can
improve their competency in managing green construction
projects, increasing the probability of producing successful
green construction projects. Lastly, new skills and knowledge
areas which were not included in this study can be explored in
future studies to further nourish the existing body of knowledge
for managing green construction projects.
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