GREEN READS: Part 2 - Books that Build the Business Case for Sustainability

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 -- seminal reads, Green IT, Green Marketing, etc. Be sure to check out the whole series!

And now, part two...the business case for sustainability.

Book #1: Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage

by Daniel Esty, Andrew Winston

2006, 400 pages

Green to Gold takes a detailed look at environmental responsibility to help business leaders see the green perspective.  Both idealistic results as well as green challenges are presented to ensure the reader has the necessary knowledge to transform his/her business. This book offer examples and case studies from global organizations who have undergone these eco-conscious strategies. Green to Gold demonstrates  to organizations the environmental and financial gains of generate lasting value through cutting costs, reducing risk, increasing revenues, and creating strong brand.

Why we chose it: This is a classic business case book and guide to sustainability.

Book #2: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Do Things

William McDonough, Michael Braungart

2002, 208 pages 

The main theme of Cradle to Cradle is “Reduce, reuse, recycle.”  Do more with less to minimize ecological damage, the authors argue, by reusing products in other ways after their intended lifecycle.  Because there is no way to salvage used natural resources so prevent ecosystem damage, the authors propose redesign processes from the ground up for both eco-safety and cost efficiency. Business leaders who are interested in increasing profitability through a product re-ultiization process should read this book! To demonstrate the commitment of the authors, the book itself is printed on a synthetic paper which does not use trees. 

Why we chose it: McDonough is a winner of three U.S. Presidential sustainability awards. This book challenged the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world.

Book #3: The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability

by Paul Hawken             

1994, 272 pages

The Ecology of Commerce states that  every act of commerce and production can be sustainable and restorative.  The author feels the keys to success in creating a sustainable commerce model are through the amalgamation of economic, biologic, and human systems to create a sustainable method of commerce. Business leaders can learn from this book various methods to redefine their human resource business goals to ensure employees are happy, successful, and comfortable in their environments which in turn, can lead to a more profitable business.

Why we chose it: The author was the founder of "Natural Capitalism." Hawken proposes a culture and model of business in which the planet's needs are addressed and the business can be successful.

Book #4: Making Sustainability Work: Best Practices in Managing and Measuring Corporate Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts

by Marc J Epstein

2008, 288 pages

Making Sustainability Work presents a practical use for corporate social responsibility (CSR) in business. The book is unique in that it offers specific guidelines, benchmarks, tools, processes and metrics to monitor corporate sustainability and CSR.  This is a must read for business leaders looking to incorporate CSR into their business.

Why we chose it: This book is endorsed by John Elkington and Herman B Leonard -- both leading thinkers in the field.