1.1 - Background

The Project (or Programme) Sustainability Logbook (PSL) Workbook is the core component of the PSL Toolbox (website), a structured support tool that allows one to define the issues and objectives of sustainable development for a programme or for a building or a facility, or a group of buildings or facilities (a 'built asset' or 'project').

Using the Workbook, the Toolbox's main aim is to facilitate collaboration between stakeholders.

The Workbook is set up and maintained to establish and monitor the issues and objectives throughout the project or programme's lifetime by comparing outcomes with those for regularly updated reference frameworks.

The PSL Toolbox comprises four linked resources.

A set of Excel worksheets are supplied as a workbook to alow users to define and then monitor the issues and objectives of sustainable development for a project or programme. An online version of the Workbook is being developed.
The PSL Workbook is supported by a document database, currently published as a PDF file, that provides additional information on international, European and national reference frameworks such as regulations, laws, standards, and benchmarks that might be taken into consideration for each of the PSL issues and objectives. A searchable onlne version is currently underdevelopment.
The Users' Manual, published as a PDF file, provides further guidance and examples of how to set up and use the PSL Workbook during all of the operational phases of a project or programme's lifetime, from initial planning to the end-of-life. This course module is based upon the Users' Manual.
PSL GuidelinesThe Guidelines describe the PSL Workbook's 63 issues and objectives and provide guidance for their selection and prioritisation in the case of a specific project or programme.

Project sustainability

All who contribute to the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of projects or programmes aim to respecting statutory norms and regulations.

These activities traditionally focus on optimising time, cost and performance. Sustainable development has introduced new requirements that are already to some extent regulated and which encourage stakeholders to undertake specific initiatives going beyond the legal requirements.

Sustainability initiatives are made difficult owing to the proliferation of reference frameworks and the heterogeneous nature of their various methodologies. Moreover, these initiatives should address not only projects - the design and construction (so-called 'new build') or renovation of built assets - but also programmes, notably urban programmes, throughout the life-cycle of their components.

Project or programme

The PSL Toolbox applies equally well to a project (a specific built asset) or to a programme (a coordinated initiative involving a collection of projects or programmes). A project may itself comprise a single built asset such as a building, an industrial facitity, service infrastructure, a development or a group of designated buildings, infrastructure, and physical plant which makes up all or part of the urban environment (for example, a city district or a city block) or is designed to meet a specific urban function (for example, public transport or water supply).

Relationship to certification

The PSL Workbook provides an overview of all the issues stemming from regulations and possible voluntary undertakings. It results in a clear appreciation of the issues, thereby helping in ranking the issues and making the engagement for sustainable development more coherent.

The PSL Toolbox does not replace certification and rating systems. Instead it offers a consolidated and organised overview, bringing forward the most significant considerations.


The PSL Toolbox also allows one to extend considerations, both technical and financial, beyond legal requirements and regulations across some or all dimensions of sustainability with maximum effect and within the scope agreed with the project or programme's senior management.

A voluntary undertaking

A PSL is an entirely voluntary undertaking that testifies to an initiative for global quality in a way that is clearly stated, easily identified, and of value for stakeholders. It is the instrument of choice for coming to grips with the life-cycle cost of the components of a project or programme.

A PSL undertaking is in principle the responsibility of an 'owner' of 'client', or the owner's representative. However, nothing prevents a stakeholder, either current or forthcoming, to propose a PSL to the owner as part, for instance, of the engineering design in a proposal.

1.2 - PSL Workbook

The PSL Toolbox provides a pre-established framework for guiding those responsible for a project or programme: they must make choices within the PSL framework, justify the choices and keep track of the justification.

The main tool is the PSL Workbook, an Excel workbook made up of several worksheets (sometimes called tables or spreadsheets).

The PSL Workbook worksheets correspond to the each of the steps needed to ensure that the PSL process provides the rigour needed to ensure:

  • a thorough analysis of the sustainability issues and objectives;
  • that an important aspect has not been overlooked;
  • flexibility for adapting to any eventuality by directing attention towards the phases, aspects of the project or programme and impacts that are the most relevant for sustainable development.

PSL Workbook worksheets therefore record:

Identification of the main issues for sustainable development relating to a project or programme (either envisaged or existing).
Ranking of the sustainability issues in terms of their importance for each particular option.
Definition of the objectives for each of the issues, together with the procedure to evaluate outcomes which may eventually use recognised reference frameworks (standards, certification, etc.) to provide benchmarks.
Implementation of actions to ensure that objectives are met and applicable during every phase in the life of each component of the project or programme
Adoption of a monitoring and evaluation procedure for each action.

Once established, the PSL Workbook serves as reference document for all phases, from initial planning to construction or rennovation through to completion and maybe an eventual end-of-life phase. The Workbook

Provides a continuous and up-to-date record of the additions and adjustments that were made to meet changing site conditions and stakeholder concerns.
Provides an agreed common language for the various partners and stakeholders.
Defines a procedure for establishing additional sustainability objectives and issues for specific projects.
Facilitates reporting.
Helps the integration of assessments of components of a project or programme.
Ensures that logbooks developed for specific projects or programmes located in, for example, an urban area can be consolidated to monitor the global profile of the area, either fully or partially in terms of specific issues and objectives.

The PSL Workbook comprises three worksheets.

The Summary Worksheet - an updated description of the project or programme and the sustainable development challenges. It gives all the sustainability issues and objectives that have been identified to-date, organised by the sustainable development dimension and theme (the PSL Toolbox gives guidance for 63 themes covering four dimensions - governance; social/society; environment; economic). Comments and links to further information are entered for each theme to help users understand the main issues or objectives for a specific project or programme.
The Overall Monitoring Worksheet comprises a table listing the themes described in the Summary Worksheet. Each theme is treated as an issue or as an objective. For those themes that are judged to be important, the theme is designated in the worksheet as an issue or an objective and its priority is indicated. For example, an 'I' for 'Issue' is entered in a Priority 2 column for the issue 'Job creation' because job creation is judged to be an issue of medium priority that will be monitored. The table is completed by entering for each prioritised issue or objective the: <ul><li>reference framworks that are taken into consideration;</li><li>expected performance;</li><li>assessment methodology.</li></ul>
Worksheets to monitor the implementation and operation of the PSL during each phase (planning; design; construction; operation; end-of-life) carry forward the issues or objectives prioritised in the overall worksheet. These worksheets summarise a schedule of documents comprising a list of reference frameworks and the procedures that are used for their evaluation, records detailing changes and statements of earlier measures and indeed any document which is useful for maintaining the Logbook. The worksheets record:<ul><li>operational response;</li><li>parameters and indicators being used;</li><li>outcomes.</li></ul>