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Sustainable business resources

Definitions

The term sustainability encompasses the notion of using resources in a way that keeps them intact for future generations. The most prevalent definition is from the Brundtland Commission (also known as the World Commission on Environment and Development [WCED]), which states that "sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."1

In terms of business, sustainability usually refers to the following three elements: environmental accountability, social accountability, and financial accountability. For the purposes of this guide, we've used a very broad definition of Sustainable Business, encompassing the environmental and social impacts of conducting business, and covering such things as corporate governance, "triple bottom line" accountability, and green business - all concepts that involve helping organisations create long-term, sustainable value for all their stakeholders.

More definitions on the web:

Articles and reports

Business Source Complete (BSC)
BSC includes the full text of magazines and journals such as Sustainable DevelopmentGreener Management International, and Journal of Sustainable Development.

Search for subjects headings such as Sustainable development, Environmental management, Environmental responsibility, Renewable energy sources, Sustainable engineering, Sustainable tourism, Social responsibility of business, Environmental auditing, and Green marketing.

Canadian Electronic Library
The Canadian Electronic Library contains publications from a variety of Canadian public policy institutes, research institutes, think tanks, advocacy groups, government agencies and university research centres.

Contains the full text of reports such as Corporate Sustainability Reporting in Canada by the Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation and The Role of Sustainable Development Indicators in Corporate Decision-Making by the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

CBCA Complete
Consult the CBCA Complete for research on Canadian businesses. Search for subjects such as:
Sustainability management, Sustainable development, Sustainable reporting, Environmental ethics, Environmental management, Environmental accounting, Green products, Social investing, Green marketing.

Environment Complete
Environment Complete covers journals such as Business Strategy & the Environment and the International Environmental Technology. Use subject terms such as Green business, Sustainable design, Clean energy industries, Green products, Green marketing, Sustainable development, Sustainable development reporting, Corporate environmentalism.

GreenFile
Search GreenFile for subjects such as Green business, Sustainability, Sustainable development reporting, Corporate environmentalism, Sustainable development, Sustainable buildings.

Google Scholar 
Looking for government information on sustainable business in Google or Google Scholar? Try doing a search that limits to government sites. Search for your term plus site: (whatever domain you want to search within). E.g., "triple bottom line" site:gc.ca or "sustainability" site:gov.bc.ca or site:ca "corporate governance" canada

Check out Business Admin list and Resource & Environmental Management list for more database suggestions.

Journals & magazines in the Library:

The SFU Library Catalogue A-Z Journals list provides access to fulltext of electronic journals available to SFU Library users, on the web and through selected periodical indexes (CBCA, Business Source Complete, JSTOR, etc.). A few examples:

  • Accounting, Auditing and Accountability
  • Business and the Environment
  • Business Ethics Quarterly
  • Business Strategy and the Environment
  • Corporate Knights Magazine - Also see the following report from the research arm of Corporate Knights: 2012 Clean Capitalism Report
  • Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management
  • Environment & Energy Bulletin / Business Council of British Columbia
  • International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
  • Issues in Social & Environmental Accounting
  • Journal of Business Ethics
  • Journal of Sustainable Development
  • Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment
  • Social and Environmental Accountability Journal
  • Stanford Social Innovation Review
  • Sustainability

Books and ebooks

Books often provide a deeper and broader treatment of a subject than you can get from either a journal article or a web site. 

Start by browsing our Sustainable Organization Library database, which is a collection of hundreds of ebooks and articles on sustainability, CSR, corporate governance, ethics, environmental policy and management.

For more books and ebooks, search the SFU Library Catalogue (and other local catalogues) with combinations of the following subjects:

  • Business -- Environmental aspects
  • Business Enterprises -- Environmental Aspects
  • Business Ethics -- Study and Teaching
  • Environmental Economics
  • Environmental Management
  • Green Marketing
  • Green Movement
  • Social Responsibility of Business
  • Sustainable Development
  • Sustainable Development British Columbia
  • Sustainable Development Canada
  • Sustainable Development Reporting

Encyclopedias

Government information

Governments at all levels can be great sources of information, and in many cases, they provide the information you need for free on their websites. Here is a brief list of some key sites.

Vancouver

British Columbia

Canada

United States

International

Associations and organizations

Associations and industry organizations often have publications, news, and links to further resources. The following are a few of the many associations and organizations associated with Sustainable Business. To search for other organizations, try the sources listed in the Associations library subject guide. Also, try looking for Links or Partners at the sites of each of these organizations.

  • Canadian Business for Social Responsibility: A non-profit organization that helps Canadian companies make business decisions to improve performance and focus on Corporate Social Responsibility. Under Resources, check for Links, Publications, Newsletters and Blog for information.
  • Canada Green Building Council: Focusing on high-performing, healthy green buildings, homes and communities throughout Canada, CGBC works on best practices, industry standards, and education. Look for information on LEED standards and GREEN UP, Canada's Building Performance Program.
  • Network for Business Sustainability: Academic and industry thought leaders sharing sustainability knowledge, with the goal of shaping management practice and research. Look for resources, reports, blogs and links to the Knowledge Centre.
  • The Prince's Accounting for Sustainability Project: From the UK, works with businesses, investors, the public sector, accounting bodies, NGOs and academics to develop practical guidance and tools for embedding sustainability into decision-making and reporting processes.
  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development: A CEO-led organization that works with the global business community toward a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. Under Resources there are links to case studies and other resources for businesses.
  • International Institute for Sustainable Development: The IISD is a Canadian-based, public policy research institute that conducts research on sustainable development. Their Publications Centre offers a range of resources on a variety of topics such as accountability, international trade and sustainable markets.
  • Ceres: Leads a national coalition of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change and water scarcity. Under Resources, check for news, reports, webinars, podcasts and videos.

Web guides

You may find more websites, videos and other useful links from other guides found online. Here are a select few:

Academic library guides

Other web guides

Current awareness

General news sources for sustainable business.

Campus/higher education/teaching resources

  • World Resources Institute: BELL Teaching Cases. These cases are free to use for instructors and students; they explore sustainability-related business challenges and business decisions that identify environmental challenges as business development opportunities.
  • Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education: AASHE aims to improve sustainability in higher education. They have a variety of free resources as well as resources only available to members.

Sustainability reporting

ISO standards

  • The ISO 14000 family of standards is related to Environmental Management, which ISO describes as what organizations do to reduce the effects of their activities on the environment, and how they are working to improve their environmental performance.
  • For information on ISO and sustainability, see their Sustainable Development page.

1. World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (Chapter 2: Towards Sustainable Development). Retrieved from http://www.un-documents.net/wced-ocf.htm