GREEN READS: Part 3 - Sustainability Basics

Dispatch from the SSC Team

This series of "green reads" provides a snapshot into the most important books in sustainability.  We've divided them up into categories -- be sure to check out the whole series!

And now, part three...sustainability basics.  These books provide a good overview of the basic pillars of sustainability including the history, theory, and principles of topics such as development, logistics and design. 

Book #1 Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World

Author: J. R. Mcneill

Published: April 2001 

Pages: 416

Summary: Something New Under the Sun discuses evidence to lead the reader to believe we are in a environmental crisis.  Some of the problems presented are soil degradation, air pollution, and acid rain. The author takes the reader through the history of how economic development has brought us to this point including phosphate mining in the Arctic, deforestation in Africa, oil spills, wars, and effects of population growth. The book relates the current generations cannot fathom the future environmental implications from the economic development changes.

Why we chose it: Top universities use this book for sustainability basics. The author is a professor of history at Georgetown University.

Book #2: Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet

Author: Jeffrey Sachs

Published: February 2009

Pages: 400

Summary: Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet discusses our impending disastrous future and potential global economic collapse that lies ahead if businesses and governments don’t change their environmentally destructive habits. The author analyses economic data and demographic trends to create idealistic, low-cost solutions to preventing further global warming and environmental destruction, stabilizing the world's population, and ending extreme poverty. The book suggests that to reach these goals, the governments and politics will have to reach mutually agreed upon agendas and solutions. 

Why we chose it: Endorsed by Nobel Peace Prize winners including Al Gore and Kofi Annan. The author is professor at Columbia University's Earth Institute.

Book #3: Design for Environment: A Guide to Sustainable Product Development: Eco-efficient Product Development

Author: Joseph Fiksel

Published: June 2009 

Pages: 432

Summary: Design for Environment presents a justification for businesses to create sustainable products and processes for their supply chain.  The book discusses how focusing on the environment as part of the business plan generates additional business value. Concepts include: practice integrated product development; deciding upon metrics to represent product life-cycle performance for the business; application of systems thinking to reduce the supply chain environmental footprint.

Why we chose it: The author is the Executive Director of the Center for Resilience at The Ohio State University and is internationally recognized as one of the original thought leaders in the green business community and sustainable business practices.

Book #4: Green Logistics: Improving the Environmental Sustainability of Logistics

Author: Alan McKinnon, Sharon Cullinane, Michael Browne, Anthony Whiteing

Published: April 2010

Pages: 352

Summary: Green Logistics examines the environmental impact of the supply chain including air pollutions, noise pollution, accidents, and climate change. The author determines methods in which customer demands can be met while minimize the environmental costs.  The book discusses methods and presents ideas on how businesses can act responsible to their financial benefit and the overall benefit of the earth.

Why we chose it: Green Logistics reframed thinking regarding environmental consequences of logistics and methods reach a balance with economic, environmental, and social objectives.