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The Green Life: Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Making Business Greener

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May 26, 2010

Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Making Business Greener

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending books about how to make business greener.

Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto (by Adam Werbach, $25, Harvard Business Press, July 2009): Werbach doesn't try to get around the fact that a business's primary goal is to make money. However, he suggests a reevaluation of how that money is acquired and saved, via an environmentally aware strategy and a new set of company ambitions (he calls them “North Star” goals). This is a guidebook for businesses of any size, and its hopeful outlook for the economy is refreshing.

Companies on a Mission: Entrepreneurial Strategies for Growing Sustainability, Responsibility, and Profitability (by Michael V. Russo, $28, Stanford University Press, Apr. 2010): We tend to trust brands with a principled mission statement. Using specific examples from real companies, Russo shows entrepreneurs and business managers the benefits of following an environmentally conscious vision. He lays out a simple set of guidelines about building credibility, capitalizing on social movements, and satisfying customers. While Russo’s views are optimistically straightforward, he doesn't shy away from attacking tricky issues (one chapter is called, "Growing Pains: Asking Difficult Questions").

Retaking Rationality: How Cost-Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environment and Our Health (by Richard L. Revesz and Michael A. Livermore, $40, Oxford University Press, Apr. 2008): While not an easy read for those not familiar with economics, this volume contains clear and engaging arguments about how financial analysts must consider the value of the environment. The body of the book addresses "eight fallacies of cost-benefit analysis,” including that “industry cannot adapt,” “wealth equals health,” and “we are worth more than our children.”

The Green Workplace: Sustainable Strategies that Benefit Employees, the Environment, and the Bottom Line (by Leigh Stringer, $25, Palgrave MacMillan, Aug. 2009): The author of this approachable book, who is LEED-accredited, reasons that making the workplace eco-friendly is not only the moral thing to do, but is a vital aspect of financial survival. The pages are filled with charts, tips, case studies, and intriguing interviews that help us understand how thinking differently about where we work can help sustain the environment and save money.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Greening Your Business (by Trish Riley and Heather Gadonniex, $20, Penguin, June 2009): Like many other Idiot’s Guide books, this one offers a simplified, step-by-step approach.  The authors lay out how exactly to go about transforming your business into a sustainable company, from company events to employee commutes, from air quality to food suppliers. A helpful glossary and a list of resources conclude this guide.

--Kristin Baldwin

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