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Practical Sustainability Strategies: How to Gain a Competitive Advantage

ISBN: 978-1-118-25044-0
328 pages
December 2013
Practical Sustainability Strategies: How to Gain a Competitive Advantage (1118250443) cover image
Strategies that enable organizations to succeed as businesses and as responsible corporate citizens

Based on the authors' many years of research and hands-on experience, this book provides tested and proven practical strategies that make it possible for organizations to develop, maintain, or extend their competitive advantage without causing harm to the environment and society. Moreover, it explains how to set goals and objectives and then monitor, measure, and report on progress towards achieving corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability. Most importantly, readers will discover that this can all be accomplished while, at the same time, improving bottom-line profitability.

Practical Sustainability Strategies: How to Gain a Competitive Advantage is divided into four parts:

  • Part 1, Introduction to Sustainability, underscores the urgency for organizations to adopt and develop sustainable practices
  • Part 2, Sustainable Strategies, details numerous strategies that have been proven to work, including environmental innovation through biomimicry, green buildings, and green chemistry
  • Part 3, Tools and Metrics, offers practical information on implementing strategies and measuring sustainability and reporting, including global standards and guidelines for managing sustainability, life-cycle analysis, carbon and water footprints such as GRI, GHG Protocol, UN Global Compact
  • Part 4, Conclusion, provides an expert forecast of the future of sustainability

Case studies based on the authors' research and fieldwork illustrate how leading companies have implemented each of the sustainability strategies discussed in the book. There's also an appendix with additional case studies exploring various aspects of business practices and sustainability.

Practical Sustainability Strategies is ideal as a graduate textbook as well as a reference for business managers. All readers will not only gain a greater appreciation for sustainable development, but also the skills needed to integrate sustainability into all aspects of their organization's business practices.

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Preface xiii

PART 1 INTRODUCTION TO SUSTAINABILITY 1

1. Urgency to Adopt Sustainability 3

2. Development of the Sustainability Concept and CSR 17

PART 2 SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGIES 25

3. The CERES and Other Principles 27

4. The Natural Step 39

5. Eco-effective Versus Eco-efficient: Sustainability Versus Being "Less Bad" 55

6. Extended Product Responsibility and "Servicizing" 65

7. Systems Thinking Leads to "Tunneling Through the Cost Barrier" 79

8. E nvironmental Innovation Through Biomimicry 89

9. Base of the Pyramid 107

10. Sustaining Fisheries 119

11. Environmentally Effective Buildings 131

12. Green Chemistry, Nanotechnology, and "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" 145

13. Sustainable Strategies and Beyond 159

PART 3 TOOLS AND METRICS 161

14. Standards and Guidelines for Managing Corporate Social Responsibility towards Sustainability 163

15. The Corporation and Its Stakeholders 177

16. Sustainability Reporting 189

17. Metrics for Sustainability 199

18. Life Cycle Analysis and Carbon Footprint 217

19. Water Footprint 227

20. Green Marketing, Communication, and Greenwashing 235

Part 4 Conclusion 247

21. Epilogue: Where Do We Go Now? 249

References 251

Appendix Additional Case Studies for a Practical Understanding of Sustainability 253

Index 291

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NIKOS AVLONAS is founder and President of the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE), a global advisory and training organization active in more than twenty-five countries. He has been distinguished as one of the "Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior" by Trust Across America. He is a well-known international educator and sustainability advisor in Fortune 500 companies in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

GEORGE P. NASSOS, PhD, is Principal of George P. Nassos & Associates, a consulting company dedicated to renewable energy and environmental sustainability and also leads Sustainable Energy Systems, which markets a new waste-to-energy technology. After thirty-two years as a corporate executive in the chemical and environmental industries, Dr. Nassos entered academia for the next fourteen years as the Director of the Master of Science in Environmental Management and Sustainability program at the Stuart School of Business of the Illinois Institute of Technology, where it gained recognition as one of the best such programs in the world.

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"Sustainability is now part of the lingo for most corporations and business school. Yet, the practical implications and integrated values that sustainability represents are often superficially addressed or sectorially disjointed. Practical Sustainability Strategies offers a comprehensive overview of the innovative significance and practical implications that sustainability has in business practices and for business education. It is a tool for understudying the breath and depth of sustainability practices in the real world of business. The book offers numerous practical messages endorsing socially responsible and environmentally conscious business practices that are the building stones for our sustainable future." 
Marco Tavanti, President, Sustainable Capacity International Institute (SCII) and Senior Wicklander Fellow, Institute for Business and Professional Ethics (IBPE).

''The authors have brought together a wide range of methods for thinking about, measuring, and improving corporate sustainability into a single cohesive framework. Their effort will be appreciated both by those who are steeped in these issues (as a reference they can use to refresh and sharpen their view) and by those who are new to the area (who need a single reference that will help them organize the many theories they are exposed to).

This book would make a good text for sustainability programs. It covers all of the major paradigms and reviews the arguments in favor of shifting corporations towards more sustainable behavior. It can't give specific examples for each company's situation or for every industry. But it does give a number of useful examples based on the performance and behavior of well-known companies.

Our area has needed a work like this for a long time. We should all thank the authors for the huge amount of work they have done to bring together so much knowledge in one place''
Bahar Gidwani, CFA, Co-founder & CEO, CSRHub

If we’re to address our environmental challenges at the scale, speed and scope needed to effect change, it will take fresh thinking and big ideas. George Nassos and Nikos Avlonas have created an excellent guide to the opportunities at the intersection of business and sustainability. It’s a no-nonsense, highly readable survey of the landscape that shows what’s possible when companies align sustainability with business success.
Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

"Nikos Avlonas is a global leader in developing and implementing sustainability strategies for organizations--including SERF.  He has teamed with his colleague George Nassos to masterfully distill their decades of experience in to this powerful and useful work.

With an all-too-rare mix of accessible prose and hard data, these gentlemen have produced a work that belongs on the bookshelf of every corporate sustainability officer and concerned citizen of the world."
Joseph Maguire, MS, SFP, President, Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities

This work by George Nassos and Nikos Avlonas is an important new resource for both the seasoned sustainability professionals like me as well as those new to the topic. The authors have compiled and describe in a clear and easy-to-read way a vast collection of  tools and case studies of utmost value to anyone interested in moving an organization toward sustainability. Well done!
Bill Blackburn, President, William Blackburn Consulting, Ltd.

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ChemistryViews Read about the book on our news and information service ChemistryViews.
Video - Book Presentation in Chicago Watch how our authors, Nikos Avlonas and George P. Nassos, present their book on Practical Sustainability Strategies in Chicago.
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