Sustainable business resources

Current awareness

General news sources for sustainable business:

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

Key databases to search for articles and reports about sustainable business.

Business Source Complete (BSC)
BSC includes the full text of magazines and journals such as Sustainable Development 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.

Canada Commons and Policy Commons
Policy Commons provides easy access to a very wide range of "grey literature" -- publications from  public policy institutes, research institutes, think tanks, advocacy groups, and university research centres around the world. Canada Commons includes a similar collection of grey literature, as well as ebooks from many Canadian university presses.  Start by exploring Policy Commons for topics such as: ecolabelling, social accounting, and green economy to find reports such as A Critical Look at the ESG Market and SMEs as Social Enterprises: Regional Disparities, Access to Finance, Strategic Intentions.

CBCA Complete
Consult 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 our Business Administration and Resource & Environmental Management database lists for more 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:

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. 

The SFU Library provides many books (both print and online) on sustainability, CSR, corporate governance, ethics, environmental policy and management. Search the SFU Library Catalogue using 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 and almanacs

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

City of Vancouver: Greenest City 2020 Action Plan

British Columbia

Environmental Protection & Sustainability: Information on Natural Resource Stewardship, Climate Change, and much more

Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources

Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Provides many reports and guides on topics such as Sustainability, Climate Change, and Managing & Reducing Waste

Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada
Provides information on Sustainable Development as well as Corporate Social Responsibility 

Statistics Canada - Sustainable Development Goals Data Hub
Canada's Statistics for the Sustainable Development Goal Indicators

United States

Environmental Protection Agency
Check out the EPA's list of topics as well as EPA for Businesses and Non-Profits (last link goes to an archived version of that page since the current EPA site has deleted it) for a variety of links on various topics related to sustainability.

US Small Business Administration
Resources for small businesses, including examples of many sustainable practices among businesses 

E3: Economy- Energy- Environment
A partnership of five US Federal Agencies, designed to promote sustainable development for businesses.

International

United Nations Environment Programme: Many links and resources to environmental information, as well as resources for specific groups and regions.

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, blog posts and links and Resource Libraryexplre their Resource Library.

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 Canada-based, public policy research institute that conducts research on sustainable development. Explore their Publications and Articles pages for a range of resources on a variety of topics such as accountability, international trade and sustainable markets. Be sure to check out their Responsible Business section for strategies, tools, and more.

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

UBC Library: Sustainable Business 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne Library: Green Business : Sustainable Business

BCIT Library: Sustainable Business Leadership 

UCLA Library: Sustainability 

Other web guides

Natural Resource Defense Council: Policy Library

GreenBiz.com for news, blogs, reports, tools and more

David Suzuki Foundation: Science & Learning Centre

CPA (Chartered Professional Accountants) Canada: Sustainability pages such as ESG is critical to your business resilience and GHG emissions management

PricewaterhouseCoopers: Insights - Sustainability

Harvard Business Review topic pages: Sustainability & Social Responsibility 
(Note that SFU researchers have online and print access to HBR articles that aren't available fulltext on these topic pages.)

Campus/higher education/teaching resources

SAGE Business Cases
Includes many cases in sustainability sub-disciplines of business, but some of the other cases also touch on related issues such as climate change, pollution, and corporate responsibility.

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

Global Reporting Initiative
A non-profit organization that promotes sustainability by providing businesses with a sustainability reporting framework. Their goal is to have businesses report on their economic, environmental, and social performance as routinely as their financial reporting. Start with their Resource Center.

Deloitte: Climate & Sustainability. (Also check out Deloitte's sustainability insights.)

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 Developing Sustainably 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