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The Sustainable Business Case Book

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The Sustainable Business Case Book provides readers with a broad overview of the core concepts of sustainability and sustainable business practice. It is intended for use in undergraduate business courses and will also be of interest to students in environmental studies, engineering, urban planning, and government. This book is not meant to exhort all business people on the path to sustainability enlightenment but to highlight some of the benefits, opportunities, and challenges associated with sustainable business practices.
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  Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 2   Preface The Sustainable Business Case Book  provides readers with a broad overview of the core concepts of sustainability and sustainable business practice. It is intended for use in undergraduate business courses and will also be of interest to students in environmental studies, engineering, urban planning, and government. This book is not meant to exhort all business people on the path to sustainability enlightenment but to highlight some of the benefits, opportunities, and challenges associated with sustainable business practices.  What distinguishes this book is that it provides a conceptual foundation to promote understanding of sustainability concepts and frameworks and also discusses real-world business examples of sustainability in action. It is believed that this is the best way to teach sustainability as it applies to the business world—a conceptual foundation with practical application. Sustainable business involves businesses operating with interest and concern for their long-term economic, environmental, and social impact. For-profit businesses focus first and foremost on their own economic bottom line, oftentimes, with a short-term perspective. However, with a sustainability perspective, businesses also consider a longer-term and broader triple bottom line that takes into account not only company profits but also environmental and social impacts. The economic, environmental, and social perspectives are increasingly interrelated and relevant for businesses. Organization This book combines foundation knowledge about sustainable business with detailed studies of businesses involved in sustainability practices. The first part (Chapter 1 Introduction to Sustainable Business and Sustainable Business Core Concepts and Frameworks  to Chapter 6 Sustainable Business Marketing ) introduces students to sustainability and sustainable business and presents key concepts, analytical frameworks, and contextual information. Part two of the book (Chapter 7 Case: Sustainable Business Entrepreneurship: Simply Green Biofuels  to Chapter 13 Case: Strategic Mission–Driven Sustainable Business: Stonyfield Yogurt ) provides seven business case studies. These company cases illuminate sustainability principles and practices across business functional areas, including operation management, accounting, finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, and strategy. Each case chapter includes a description of the business context, the motivating interest in business sustainability, and the sustainable business practices used. The discussion of sustainable business practice includes details on the practices, how they  Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 3    were established, and their results. Each case chapter ends with a discussion of future considerations for the company in its sustainable business efforts and exercises for students. All the chapters in the book include learning objectives, key takeaways, key terms, and exercises. All the chapter sections, except for the shorter case chapters, also include these. All the individual chapters in part two can be used independently as “stand-alone” case studies. The chapters will be relevant for general business, operation management, entrepreneurship, accounting, and finance courses as well as in science and engineering courses, introducing students to business applications. Uncertainty in both the business and natural environments makes sustainability a valuable lens for the  business practitioner to navigate the future waters of our continually evolving world. We hope that you enjoy the journey ahead in this exciting and pragmatic approach to business thinking.  Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 4   Chapter 1 Introduction to Sustainable Business and Sustainable Business Core Concepts and Frameworks   Google Invests $39 Million in Wind Farms In 2010, Google invested $38.8 million in two North Dakota wind farms built by NextEra Energy Resources. These wind farms generate 169.5 MW of electricity, enough to power 55,000 homes. Google’s investment represents a minority interest in the $190 million financing of the projects. The two wind farms had already been built, but Google said that its investment would provide funds for NextEra to invest in additional renewable energy projects. Google’s investment is structured as a “tax equity investment” where it will earn a return based on tax credits—a direct offset of federal taxes that Google  would otherwise need to pay—for renewable energy projects, Google spokesman Jamie Yood said the energy from the wind farms would not be used to power Google’s data centers, which consume large amounts of electricity. Mr. Yood said that Google’s primary goal was to earn a return from its investment  but that the company also is looking to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy. Renewable energy comes from sources such as solar panels and wind turbines to generate energy as opposed to other sources used such as coal or oil. Renewable energy typically has a much lower impact on the environment depending on the type and often emits little to no pollution. Conscious of its high electricity bills and its impact on the environment, Google has long had an interest in renewable energy. Renewable energy projects at Google range from a large solar power installation on its campus, to the promotion of plug-in hybrids, to investments in renewable energy start-up companies like eSolar. Google has also worked on making its data centers more energy efficient, consume less electricity  while still handling the same amount of data requests, and has developed technologies to let people monitor their home energy use. But as of 2010, the company had yet to live up to its promise to help to finance the generation of renewable energy. “We’re aiming to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy—in a way that makes good business sense, too,” Rick Needham, green business operations manager at Google, wrote on the company’s blog. Source: Miguel Helft, “Google Invests $39 Million in Wind Farms,”  New York Times , May 3, 2010. 1.1  Introduction  Saylor URL: http://www.saylor.org/books Saylor.org 5   LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1.   Understand that businesses are increasingly acting with concern for the environment and society. 2.   Comprehend that business can play a positive role in helping to solve the world’s environmental and social problems. 3.   Appreciate that business interest in sustainability has been motivated by profit-making opportunities associated with sustainable business practices. 4.   Understand that this book focuses on sustainable business case studies in the United States.  Why would Google invest in wind farms that will not provide any energy for its high-energy-consuming data centers? Founded in 1998, Google runs the world’s most popular Internet search engine. It’s a position that has earned Google high profits and has given it huge influence over the online world. Then why would it take a risky investment of millions of dollars on an activity outside its core business? And why would the US government provide tax credits to Google and other private companies to invest in renewable energy? Can’t the private market and profit-making interests of private businesses ensure that an adequate supply of renewable energy is produced in the United States and globally?  All businesses, including Google, must focus on their economic performance and ensure they are profitable and provide an attractive return on investment for their owners and investors. Without this, businesses cannot continue as ongoing entities. For Google and other companies, their most important “bottom line” is their own economic bottom line, which is their profitability, or revenue, minus expenses.  Yet it is clear from Google’s investment in wind farms and the activities of private companies all around the globe that many of today’s business leaders look beyond their own annual economic  bottom line and act with concern for how their business activities affect the environment and the  very existence and sustainability   of the world’s physical and human resources and capabilities. This is  what this book is about.  All companies must operate legally and achieve profitability to continue as ongoing entities. All companies also embed and reflect in their decision making and activities the values and priorities of their owners, key managers, employees, and other stakeholders. As will be highlighted in this book, some companies, such as BP prior to the Gulf oil spill in 2010, focus on annual profitability and
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