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Sustainability Management

Sustainability Management: Lessons from and for New York City, America, and the Planet

Steven Cohen
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Sustainability Management
    Book Description:

    Can we grow our world economy and create opportunities for the poor while keeping the planet intact? Can we maintain our vibrant, dynamic lifestyles while ensuring the Earth stays productive and viable? Aimed at managers, students, scholars, and policymakers, Sustainability Management answers these questions in the affirmative, arguing it is possible for environmentally sustainable business practices and policies to foster economic and long-term growth.

    Written by a former analyst and consultant with the EPA, this book originally combines sustainable efforts in water, agriculture, urban, and power management to achieve-in practice, not just in theory-a sustainable planet and economy. Steven Cohen begins with the technical, financial, managerial, and political challenges of such a project, and then honestly assesses sustainable practices in the manufacturing and service industries. He addresses renewable and carbon-free energy production; water sustainability, especially with regard to energy issues involving filtration, distribution, and changing rainfall patterns; food cultivation and distribution; and ways to maintain the interdependent systems on which we depend to live. Taking examples from New York City, one of the most sustainable and sustainability-minded metropolises in the world, Cohen explains how everything from construction to waste management can be designed to facilitate a sustainable environment, not just for New York but also for the world. He concludes with this macroscopic view, outlining the global efforts necessary to preserve biodiversity and ecosystems, and the impact of war, terrorism, and human conflict on sustainability.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52637-1
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. Chapter 1 What Is Sustainability Management?
    (pp. 1-19)

    No book about sustainability should begin without reference to the definition of sustainable development that originated at the 1987 Commission on Environment and Development, also known as the Brundtland Commission. That commission defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987). MIT’s Richard Locke, one of the founders of that university’s terrific Laboratory for Sustainable Business, uses the image of a piece of fabric to define sustainability:

    I build on the Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainability, which focuses...

  5. Chapter 2 Sustainable Manufacturing and Service Businesses
    (pp. 20-39)

    The idea of sustainability is an outgrowth of the movement to protect the environment. The original notion of environmental protection involved regulating pollution created by manufacturing or transportation. Most solutions were “end-of-the-pipeline” add-ons. Pollution, while still produced, was treated with some type of technological filter that made it less dangerous. But retrofits add to the cost of production, and thus the popular belief developed that environmental protection makes goods more expensive. From there, it was only a short journey to the notion that there must be a trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth. Environmental protection and a concern for...

  6. Chapter 3 The Centrality of Energy
    (pp. 40-74)

    The heart of the sustainability issue is energy. Unless we end our dependence on fossil fuels, we cannot develop a long-term sustainable economy. There are three reasons for this: (1) Fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide and other pollutants when they are used. (2) Extracting these fuels damages the Earth’s ecosystems. (3) These fuels are finite, and as they become scarcer and more difficult to extract, they will become more expensive. If we can develop low-cost renewable energy, we can overcome these constraints and go a long way toward addressing the current sustainability crisis.

    As Howard and Elizabeth Odum first discussed...

  7. Chapter 4 Sustainable Water
    (pp. 75-87)

    Although water is a finite resource on our planet, when humans and animals use it, it doesn’t disappear. It either evaporates into the atmosphere and returns in the form of rain or it combines with other chemicals, making it less fit for human consumption. Most of the water on the planet is in the form of salt water, which doesn’t quench our thirst but turns out to be pretty helpful for many species of fish. The focus of this chapter is on maintaining the quality and quantity of water needed for human life and the support of key ecosystems and...

  8. Chapter 5 Sustainable Food Supply
    (pp. 88-104)

    Most U.S. cities have daily or weekly farmers’ markets. These are places in a park or on a street where local farmers come one or two days per week to sell local fresh produce, baked goods, meat, and dairy products. I asked a city official who worked with the neighborhood farmers’ market if the very popular program was going to expand further over the next few years. His response was that they could not, because the area was “out of farms,” meaning that just about all of the farms within 150 miles of the city were already operating booths in...

  9. Chapter 6 Sustainable Cities
    (pp. 105-131)

    What is a sustainable city? A city, by definition, is a place that is not designed to be fully in harmony with natural ecosystems but is instead dominated by human activities: our homes, businesses, and institutions. When I think of a city that could be termed sustainable, I think of a place that uses as few nonrenewable resources as possible and has the least possible impact on the ecosystems outside of the city’s boundaries. That concern for external impact requires a concern for the impact on the already compromised ecosystems within the city, although there are limits to ecosystem preservation...

  10. Chapter 7 A Sustainable Planet
    (pp. 132-149)

    Sustainability is the word of the moment and certainly a term explored in some detail in the preceding pages. We began by describing the meaning of sustainability in business and moved on to a variety of resources, including food, water, and energy. Then we integrated the discussion to consider the place where most people now live: the planet’s cities. This chapter will discuss the issues of global scale and a sustainable planet. I will raise many of the same sustainability issues raised in earlier chapters, but with a different focus or unit of analysis. This chapter looks at the degree...

  11. Chapter 8 Conclusions
    (pp. 150-158)

    This volume has attempted to present an introduction to the field of sustainability management. I have tried in these few pages to begin the process of combining the fields of environmental policy and management with the fields of business management and finance. The old notion of environmental policy is that it is an add-on to a modern economy. It makes the economy more civilized and pleasant, but in some ways it is a frill, a luxury. The field of sustainability management is based on different premises. It assumes that the modern economy on a crowded planet requires that environmental issues...

  12. References
    (pp. 159-172)
  13. Index
    (pp. 173-182)