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Published by: MIT Sloan School of Management
Published in: "MIT Sloan Management Review", 2009
Length: 8 pages

Abstract

MIT Sloan Management Review''s Business of Sustainability survey and thought leaders interview project identified numerous management challenges presented by the new competitive landscape that sustainability pressures is creating. Perhaps the biggest challenge, though, is how to build the ''business case'' for investing in a sustainability-related project - even when you believe that the project addresses a significant opportunity. What do executives need to know about sustainability as a business proposition? Interviewee Amory Lovins, Co-founder of Rocky Mountain Institute, Co-author of Natural Capitalism - Creating the Next Industrial Revolution and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation ''genius grant'', argues that executives labor under several pernicious misunderstandings about how sustainability affects business - the worst being that sustainability efforts have to cost a company, when in fact, says Lovins, they nearly always increase profits. How does one begin to build a persuasive business case for undertaking sustainability-related initiatives? Map your flows and costs of materials and energy, says Lovins; you will find fiscal ''leaks'' that can be fixed, with direct bottom-line benefits. He also points out numerous side benefits of sustainability-related efforts: gains in innovation, labor productivity and appeal as a collaboration partner. Those benefits, he argues, will exceed the direct ones.

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Abstract

MIT Sloan Management Review''s Business of Sustainability survey and thought leaders interview project identified numerous management challenges presented by the new competitive landscape that sustainability pressures is creating. Perhaps the biggest challenge, though, is how to build the ''business case'' for investing in a sustainability-related project - even when you believe that the project addresses a significant opportunity. What do executives need to know about sustainability as a business proposition? Interviewee Amory Lovins, Co-founder of Rocky Mountain Institute, Co-author of Natural Capitalism - Creating the Next Industrial Revolution and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation ''genius grant'', argues that executives labor under several pernicious misunderstandings about how sustainability affects business - the worst being that sustainability efforts have to cost a company, when in fact, says Lovins, they nearly always increase profits. How does one begin to build a persuasive business case for undertaking sustainability-related initiatives? Map your flows and costs of materials and energy, says Lovins; you will find fiscal ''leaks'' that can be fixed, with direct bottom-line benefits. He also points out numerous side benefits of sustainability-related efforts: gains in innovation, labor productivity and appeal as a collaboration partner. Those benefits, he argues, will exceed the direct ones.

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