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Special Issue "Green Business: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainability"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2013)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. David E. Ervin

Departments of Economics and Environmental Science and Management, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97207-0751, USA
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +1 503 725 3945
Interests: ecosystem services valuation and management; business sustainability; biotechnology and agricultural sustainability; environmental policy reform

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Once considered the prime culprit in environmental degradation, the business sector has emerged as a central player in sustainability circles. Expanding markets for green products and services, more stringent pollution standards and contentious social issues have elevated sustainability to a strategic position in many businesses. These firms may not only seek to minimize regulatory exposure, but lower operating costs, address diverse stakeholders, manage other risks, enhance revenues, and improve competitive advantage. Some business managers also hold strong values about environmental stewardship and social equity, motives that depart from pursuing strict profit maximization.

Despite the proliferation of business sustainability initiatives, important questions remain unanswered about the potential and limitations of such efforts to further sustainable development. For example, will consumers and investors exert increasingly significant influences over such behaviors? Will voluntary actions by businesses preempt public regulations needed to ensure the health of regional and global ecological systems? Do current green business practices affect environmental performance at meaningful scales, or do they mostly constitute exercises in public relations, i.e., green washing? How can government agencies and non-governmental organizations increase the efficacy and impact of green business initiatives? This special issue presents the latest findings from research and practice around the globe that address these and other compelling questions.

Prof. Dr. David E. Ervin
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Keywords

  • green business
  • voluntary
  • motivations
  • management values
  • barriers
  • green washing
  • regulation
  • certification
  • transparency

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Motivations for Proactive Environmental Management
Sustainability 2013, 5(6), 2664-2692; doi:10.3390/su5062664
Received: 28 April 2013 / Revised: 29 May 2013 / Accepted: 30 May 2013 / Published: 19 June 2013
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (1012 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper examines the extent to which there are differential incentives that motivate the adoption of environmental management practices (EMPs) and pollution prevention (P2) methods. We analyze the role of internal drivers such as managerial attitudes towards the environment and external pressures using
[...] Read more.
This paper examines the extent to which there are differential incentives that motivate the adoption of environmental management practices (EMPs) and pollution prevention (P2) methods. We analyze the role of internal drivers such as managerial attitudes towards the environment and external pressures using both observed characteristics of facilities and perceived pressures. We estimate a structural equation model using survey data from facilities in Oregon that involves simultaneous estimation of the latent dependent and explanatory variables and the two regression equations explaining adoption behavior of EMPs and P2. We find that perceived regulatory pressures and managerial attitudes have a statistically significant impact on the adoption of both EMPs and P2 practices, while market pressures were significant in influencing the adoption of EMPs but not P2 methods. Furthermore; we find that both external regulatory pressures and internal managerial attitudes had a larger impact in motivating adoption by facilities that did not view environmental issues as being a significant concern as compared to facilities that did. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green Business: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Effect of Systems to Manage Environmental Aspects on Environmental Performance
Sustainability 2013, 5(6), 2557-2588; doi:10.3390/su5062557
Received: 25 March 2013 / Revised: 28 May 2013 / Accepted: 30 May 2013 / Published: 7 June 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (830 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper analyzes the effect of systems to manage environmental aspects on environmental performance at individual polluting facilities. Regulated polluting facilities are increasingly embracing pollution minimization strategies that involve the adoption of broadly defined systems to manage environmental aspects. Despite a meaningful empirical
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This paper analyzes the effect of systems to manage environmental aspects on environmental performance at individual polluting facilities. Regulated polluting facilities are increasingly embracing pollution minimization strategies that involve the adoption of broadly defined systems to manage environmental aspects. Despite a meaningful empirical literature, whether or not these systems lead to better environmental performance remains an open question. This study seeks to assess the possible connection between systems to manage environmental aspects and improved environmental performance. It also seeks to identify the factors determining the extent of the adopted system of management and the factors’ direct effects on environmental performance. For this empirical analysis, the study examines the extent of systems to manage environmental aspects employed by and the level of wastewater discharged by U.S. chemical manufacturing facilities during 2001. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green Business: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle The Capacity to Endure: Following Nature’s Lead
Sustainability 2013, 5(6), 2480-2494; doi:10.3390/su5062480
Received: 6 March 2013 / Revised: 18 May 2013 / Accepted: 27 May 2013 / Published: 6 June 2013
PDF Full-text (660 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many businesses today are striving to improve their environmental sustainability for a variety of reasons, ranging from consumer demand for “greener” products to potential cost-savings. For many business decision-makers who lack formal environmental training, the process of identifying facets of their organization that
[...] Read more.
Many businesses today are striving to improve their environmental sustainability for a variety of reasons, ranging from consumer demand for “greener” products to potential cost-savings. For many business decision-makers who lack formal environmental training, the process of identifying facets of their organization that can be improved is unclear and challenging. Inspired by the fields of biomimicry, industrial ecology and organizational ecology, this paper draws on the inherent capacity to endure (CTE) of the natural world and recognizes that ecosystem function can be used as a technical advisor to guide business sustainability. We identified major attributes of ecosystems that both contribute to their CTE and can be easily translated into applications for the business world. Each of these attributes (fitness, functional redundancy, keystone species, waste and efficiency) and their applications are discussed at length. While further work is needed to evaluate their effectiveness and appropriateness for individual firms, we hope they can serve as a starting point for businesses seeking to improve their environmental sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green Business: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Paradoxes and Possibilities for a ‘Green’ Housing Sector: A Swedish Case
Sustainability 2013, 5(5), 2018-2035; doi:10.3390/su5052018
Received: 1 March 2013 / Revised: 3 April 2013 / Accepted: 25 April 2013 / Published: 6 May 2013
PDF Full-text (634 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As global and local visions for sustainable living environments are increasingly supported by policies and concrete practices in construction, the building and housing sector is seeking to mitigate its environmental impact as well as assume a greater social responsibility. The overarching policy objectives
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As global and local visions for sustainable living environments are increasingly supported by policies and concrete practices in construction, the building and housing sector is seeking to mitigate its environmental impact as well as assume a greater social responsibility. The overarching policy objectives set to concretize what a sustainable housing development entails, however, tend to rely on equivocal terminology, allowing a varied interpretation by key industry practitioners. Though in line with an ecological modernization paradigm in policy, the promotion of a market-driven environmentalism in housing faces multiple challenges as varying interests and perspectives collide. Supported by empirical findings of a semi-structured interview study conducted with housing developers in a new ‘green’ urban district in Göteborg, Sweden, theoretical frameworks surrounding the paradoxical path towards a sustainable housing development are presented. Inconsistencies between outspoken ambitions; social dimensions; and the framing of efficiency in new housing are discussed. Possibilities for the housing sector are given in the recognition of new forms of development, where a systemic perspective is required in the alignment between how industry, policy and the market perceives housing development and what is actually sustainable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green Business: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Growing Green and Competitive—A Case Study of a Swedish Pulp Mill
Sustainability 2013, 5(5), 1789-1805; doi:10.3390/su5051789
Received: 28 January 2013 / Revised: 4 April 2013 / Accepted: 22 April 2013 / Published: 29 April 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (674 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The experiences of past efforts of industrial pollution control while maintaining competitiveness should be of great value to research and policy practice addressing sustainability issues today. In this article, we analyze the environmental adaptation of the Swedish pulp industry during the period 1970–1990
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The experiences of past efforts of industrial pollution control while maintaining competitiveness should be of great value to research and policy practice addressing sustainability issues today. In this article, we analyze the environmental adaptation of the Swedish pulp industry during the period 1970–1990 as illustrated by the sulfite pulp producer Domsjö mill. We investigate how this company managed to adapt to heavy transformation pressure from increasing international competition in combination with strict national environmental regulations during the 1960s to the early 1990s. In line with the so-called Porter hypothesis, the company was able to coordinate the problems that were environmental in nature with activities aiming at production efficiency goals and the development of new products. Swedish environmental agencies and legislation facilitated this “win-win” situation by a flexible but still challenging regulatory approach towards the company. From the early 1990s and onwards, the greening of the pulp industry was also a result of increased market pressure for green paper products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green Business: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainability)

Review

Jump to: Research, Other

Open AccessReview Moving Beyond Profit: Expanding Research to Better Understand Business Environmental Management
Sustainability 2013, 5(6), 2693-2721; doi:10.3390/su5062693
Received: 10 April 2013 / Revised: 1 June 2013 / Accepted: 6 June 2013 / Published: 19 June 2013
PDF Full-text (146 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
An extensive economics literature has examined business environmental management to identify characteristics and external institutional stakeholder pressures that influence management decisions. Frequently, it is assumed that profit pursuit is the goal, and organizations subject to the same pressures respond similarly. Studies have identified
[...] Read more.
An extensive economics literature has examined business environmental management to identify characteristics and external institutional stakeholder pressures that influence management decisions. Frequently, it is assumed that profit pursuit is the goal, and organizations subject to the same pressures respond similarly. Studies have identified a narrow set of influential stakeholders, but have revealed that organizations respond differently to them. Recent research shows that an important moderating influence is the manager’s attitude toward environmental protection, which may explain differing organizational responses, and that managers may perceive the ability to obtain utility beyond increased profit from engaging in strategic environmental management. A comprehensive framework for assessing moderating perceptions is lacking, but recent research combining institutional theory and utility maximization shows increased explanatory power and exposes the relative importance of manager perceptions. This paper synthesizes economics and management literature on institutional determinants of environmental management, utility maximization, and attitudes and behavior to illustrate the usefulness of an integrated approach for both disciplines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green Business: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainability)

Other

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessConcept Paper A Practical Approach for Demonstrating Environmental Sustainability and Stewardship through a Net Ecosystem Service Analysis
Sustainability 2013, 5(5), 2152-2177; doi:10.3390/su5052152
Received: 6 March 2013 / Revised: 26 April 2013 / Accepted: 27 April 2013 / Published: 10 May 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (925 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The increasing pressure on the earth’s resources due to population growth requires that development and resource use be managed to maintain a sustainable environment so as to preserve or enhance human well-being. A practical approach for demonstrating the environmental sustainability of an action
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The increasing pressure on the earth’s resources due to population growth requires that development and resource use be managed to maintain a sustainable environment so as to preserve or enhance human well-being. A practical approach for demonstrating the environmental sustainability of an action (e.g., green business practice) through ecosystem service analysis is presented. The overarching premise of the approach is that human well-being is directly related to changes in ecosystems and associated services. The approach evaluates the net change in ecosystem services, and hence human well-being, and is termed a net ecosystem service analysis (NESA). Using this approach, if a net positive change in ecosystem services relative to the baseline condition occurs for an action, that action would be considered potentially sustainable. In addition, if an action creates net ecosystem service value above the baseline condition, it would be considered to embody environmental stewardship. Established ecological and human use quantification methods are incorporated into the analysis. In addition, to demonstrate potential sustainability, the approach must also consider the need to satisfy intergenerational equity objectives. The use of a practical approach from which private business and government representatives can make decisions regarding environmental sustainability and stewardship will provide for improved decision-making based on quantifiable metrics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green Business: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainability)

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