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Sustainability organizations

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Sustainability organizations

Sustainability organizations seek to implement sustainability strategies which provide them with economic and cultural benefits attained through environmental responsibility. Recently, the natural environment has become a key strategic issue in both the business and academic communities. Through "implementing sustainability strategies, firms can integrate long-run profitability with their efforts to protect the ecosystem, providing them with opportunities to achieve the traditional competitive advantages of & cost leadership and market differentiation via environmental responsibility".[1] Sustainability strategies have been persistently employed in a number of organizations.


A sustainable system generally can be defined in environmental terminology as "a living system which operates in a way that it does not use up resources more quickly than they can be naturally replenished; a sustainable economic system operates in a way so that expenditures are either equal or less than the income." Sustainable social systems maintain that all members are allowed to contribute, thereby synthesizing the final product. [2]

Corporate sustainability

Corporate Sustainability refers to "a company’s activities, voluntary by definition, demonstrating the inclusion of social and environmental concerns in business operations and in interactions with stakeholders".[3] Each individual organization should choose its own particular goals and approaches as they pertain to corporate sustainability, matching the organization’s aims and intentions and aligning with the organization’s strategy, as an appropriate response to the conditions in which it functions.

Motives for organizations implementing sustainability strategies

Ecological motives

  • Conserving energy
  • Conserving resources
  • Reducing pollution
  • Reducing waste

Economic motives

  • Generating revenue
  • Cost reducing potential

Legal and regulatory pressures

  • US Clean Air Act
  • US Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  • US Clean Water Act

List of sustainability organizations by topic


Sustainable agriculture incorporates design and management procedures that coincide with natural processes in order to conserve all resources and minimize waste production and damage to natural systems, while preserving or improving farm profitability. Sustainable agriculture systems are "designed to take the greatest advantage of current soil nutrient and water cycles, energy flows, beneficial soil organisms, and natural pest controls. These systems also seek to produce food that is nutritious yet uncontaminated with products such as synthetically compound fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. Sustainable agriculture systems often depend on crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, off-farm organic wastes, appropriate mechanical cultivation or minimal tillage to optimize soil biological and natural pest control activity in order to maintain soil fertility and crop productivity."[4] Also, resistant species varieties, and biological and cultural controls are implemented to control pests, weeds and diseases. [5] Sustainable agriculture organizations aim to educate and encourage farmers to implement sustainable agriculture practices into their productions. Many sponsor research and education outreach projects.

Agricultural sustainability organizations:

  • Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)
[8] info and links to other internet sites and documents on sustainable agriculture
  • Envirolink

* sustainable business network news and information

  • National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy
* an independent advisory body that provides decision makers, opinion leaders and the Canadian public with advice and recommendations for promoting sustainable development
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

* offers in-depth publications on production practices, alternative crop and livestock enterprises, innovative marketing, organic certification, and highlights of local, regional, USDA and other federal sustainable agriculture activities.

  • Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability

* helps businesses and organizations impplement sustainable practices that increase revenue, enhance reputation, and reduce risk and uncertainty

  • Organic Farming Research Foundation
  • Sightline Institute

* formerly Northwest Environment Watch, a non-profit organization that aims to foster a sustainable economy and way of life in the Pacific Northwest, a bioregion defined by the watersheds of rivers flowing through North America's temperate rainforest zone

  • Sustainable Agriculture Research and education (SARE)

* communication and outreach arm of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

  • Sustainable Northwest

* a Portland, Oregon-based organization dedicated to forging a new economy in the Pacific Northwest

  • The Food Alliance

* support for sustainable agriculture


"By using more efficient building methods and materials, it is estimated that we could reduce the energy, resource consumption and / or waste production by 50-60% without decreasing value, aesthetics or function."[6] Taking the Earth's finite resources into consideration, along with acknowledging that manufactured products, including all building materials, affect the Earth’s resources, it is becoming very important to make sensible decisions regarding the use of these limited resources to preserve our natural environment along with human civilization. Increased use of resource efficient construction materials and methods will help to induce more sustainable practices throughout the building and construction industry. [7] Green Building Organizations:

  • Building Green

* authoritative information on environmentally responsible building design and construction from the publishers of Environmental Building News

  • Green Building News

* detailed information on sustainable design and construction

  • Healthy Building Network

* promotes healthy building materials as a means of improving public health and preserving the global environment

  • Northwest Ecobuilding Guild

* association of building professionals and homeowners interested in ecologically sustainable building

  • Operation Fresh Start

* designed to empower communities as they recover from floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters by providing tools and resources to rebuild homes and business using sustainable principles and technologies

  • US Green Building Council (USGBC)

* the council is the nation's foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work

  • World Green Building Council

* a U.S. non-profit corporation striving to help countries form national green building councils of their own by providing valuable information and resources to its affiliates and members


[ *] an Estonian based NGO with an international scope that connects volunteers with sustainable build projects all around the world to exchange labor, skills and knowledge


Sustainable business organizations participate in environmentally friendly or green practices in order to make certain that all processes, products, and manufacturing activities sufficiently address current environmental concerns while still retaining a profit.[8][9] Concurrently, it is a business that “meets the needs of the present world without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.[10][11] It is the method of evaluating how to design products that will correspond to current environmental conditions and how well a company’s products perform with renewable resources.[12] There are many organizations and networks currently interacting with businesses in order to integrate sustainability into their central goals and contribute to the environmentally and socially responsible business movement.[13]

Sustainable business organizations:

  • American Energy Green Building (AEGB)

* the Austin Energy Green Building Program is nationally known for expertise in "green" residential and commercial construction

  • Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)

* Believe communities thrive by having strong local business ownership, economic justice, cultural diversity, and a healthy, natural environment. Follows mission by building networks among local businesses interested in maintaining a local living economy.

  • Business and Industry Resource Venture

* provides free information, assistance and referrals to help Seattle businesses improve their environmental performance

  • Business for Social Responsibility

* a business membership organization

  • Center for a Sustainable Economy

* non-partisan research and policy organization that promotes innovative tax and other market-based approaches to achieving a sustainable economy


* the largest coalition of environmental, investor, and advocacy groups working together for sustainable prosperity. These groups form a community of forward-looking companies that have committed to continuous environmental improvement by endorsing the CERES principles, a ten point code of environmental conduct.

  • Cool Companies

* A guide for businesses seeking to cut energy costs and reduce pollution.

  • Future 500

* brings together strategically selected companies, NGOs, and opinion leaders to overcome mutual distrust and advance systemic solutions.

  • Global Environmental Management Initiative

* the Global Environmental Management Initiative

  • Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

* standard reporting for environmental, economic and social activity

  • GreenBiz

* A resource center on business, the environment, and the bottom line

  • Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS)

* a market segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living, and social justice.

  • Natural Capital Institute

* researches and initiates projects relating to the relationship between human and living systems, with particular emphasis on natural capital, green business, biomimicry, innovative design, and social justice.” Particular focus on Socially Responsible Investing Project and Database, and Wind Energy Resources Project.

  • Net-Impact

* a network of emerging business leaders committed to using the power of business to create a better world. It is also the most progressive and influential network of MBAs in existence today. Originally founded as Students for Responsible Business in 1993, Net Impact serves to broaden business education, refine leadership skills, and pursue professional goals, while building networks.

  • Sacramento Area Sustainable Business Program

* Regional partnership that encourages businesses to adopt environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. Certifies and promotes businesses that take voluntary actions to conserve energy and water, reduce waste and pollution, recycle and purchase recycled products, improve air quality, and implement green building measures.


Sustainable community organizations often encourage and cultivate collaborative community projects and education programs that improve connections between businesses, institutions and the public with their communities, the natural environment, and each other. For example, the Sustainable Community Initiatives organization:

  • Acts to help the business community, local government and the general public develop an awareness of the value of sustainable community development[14]
  • Endeavors to combine knowledge (through public education) and action (in the form of community programs) to promote prosperous and healthy communities[15]
  • Explores opportunities to develop educational, entrepreneurial and environmentally sound community-based projects[16]
  • Develops materials on the efficient use of urban environmental resources and sustainable activities for distribution to local businesses and to the general public[17]
  • Conducts sustainability seminars and workshops for a variety of audiences, e.g. financial institutions, housing development organizations, continuing education programs and community organizations[18]
  • Participates in efforts to promote more sustainable tax policies and land use codes[19]
  • Integrates into all of SCI's undertakings, the fundamental elements of community sustainability: community partnership, community enterprise, community conservation and community design [20]

Sustainable community organizations:

  • A World Institute for a Sustainable Humanity (AWISH)

* an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide models and support for life sustaining activities that integrate solutions to poverty and the environment while fostering self-reliance

  • Biomimicry Institute

* a not-for-profit organization that promotes the study and imitation of nature’s remarkably efficient designs, bringing together scientists, engineers, architects and innovators who can use those models to create sustainable technologies.

  • Fostering Sustainable Behavior

* Doug McKenzie Moore on community-based social marketing

  • Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)

* a growing network of sustainable communities and initiatives that bridge different cultures, countries, and continents. GEN serves as umbrella organization for ecovillages, transition town initiatives, intentional communities, and ecologically minded individuals worldwide.

  • Natural Step Network

* sponsors trainings and workshops to help support The Natural Step framework for businesses and organizations

  • Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC)

* The Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC) is a national, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in San Rafael, California. PSC is dedicated to helping make American cities and towns more efficient and more successful for the long-term. We share the concern of environmental groups about the negative impact of greenhouse gas emissions. However, PSC is unique in that it focuses on the environmental aspects of land use planning, zoning, community development, building efficiency and transportation. PSC encourages people who are concerned about sustainability to become a member of the organization.

  • Sacramento Area Sustainable Business Program

* Regional partnership that encourages businesses to adopt environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. Certifies and promotes businesses that take voluntary actions to conserve energy and water, reduce waste and pollution, recycle and purchase recycled products, improve air quality, and implement green building measures.

  • Smart Communities Network

* energy efficiency and renewable energy - news and events

  • Sustainable Communities Network

* for everyone interested in making smart choices about communities—choices that are both economically and ecologically intelligent

  • Sustainable Connections

* working with business and community leaders working to transform and model an economy built on sustainable practices

  • Sustainable Seattle

* an award winning, volunteer-based civic network and forum located in Seattle with a focus on the metropolitan city/county area

  • Global Ecovillages Network

* 1500+ pages on ecovillages and sustainability

  • Sustainable Architecture Buildings and Culture

* ideas for sustainable communities


Despite the fact that some places may be similar in economic terms, the characteristics of a sustainable business model vary from community to community.[21] Many organizations aim to assist communities in developing economic opportunities for all citizens. Some programs exist that "assist individuals in obtaining employment, that create jobs and that help individuals become economically self-sufficient." [22]

Economic sustainability organizations:

  • Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE)

* organization dedicated to advocating a sustainable economy with stabilized population and consumption, such an economy is called a "steady state economy


Environmental sustainability is the "long-term maintenance of ecosystem components and functions for future generations." In addition, environmental sustainability is the process of making sure current processes of interaction with the environment are pursued with the idea of keeping the environment as unspoiled as naturally possible. It maintains that the Earth’s resources must not be depleted faster than they can naturally be replenished. Depletion of our finite resources inevitably tries the ability of human civilizations to persist.[23]

Environmental sustainability organizations:

  • Bioneers

* working to preserve biological and cultural diversity

  • Center for a New American Dream

* New American Dream helps Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice.

  • Climate Leadership Initiative

* help government, business, and communities adopt sustainability-based thinking, policies, and programs

  • Climate Solutions

* promotes a regional approach to global warming solutions

  • Friends of the Earth (FOE)

* FOE is a national environmental organization dedicated to preserving the health and diversity of the planet for future generations

  • International Institute for Environmental Development (IIED)

* promotes sustainable patterns of world development through collaborative research, policy studies, networking and knowledge dissemination

  • International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

* seeks to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable

  • Northwest Earth Institute

* a pioneer in taking earth-centered education programs to people where they spend their time-in their neighborhoods, workplaces, homes, schools, and centers of faith

  • Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC)

* the Northwest's leading resource for promoting a cleaner environment through pollution prevention. PPRC provides high quality, unbiased information, facilitates information exchange, and catalyzes pollution prevention projects

  • Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP)

* supports the advancement of renewable energy technology through policy research

  • Rocky Mountain Institute

* We work extensively with the private sector, as well as with civil society and government, to create abundance by design and to apply the framework of natural capitalism.

  • Sightline Institute

* Sightline Institute is an independent, nonprofit research and communications center—a think tank—founded by Alan Durning in 1993.

  • Sustainability Institute

* A non-profit organization founded in 1996 by the late Donella (Dana) Meadows, the Sustainability Institute applies systems thinking, system dynamics modeling, and organizational learning to economic, environmental and social challenges.

  • Union of Concerned Scientists

* UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.

  • Zero Emissions Research Initiative (ZERI)

* a global network of creative minds seeking solutions to world challenges. The common vision shared by the members of the ZERI family is to view waste as resource and seek solutions using nature's design principles as inspiration.

  • Zero Waste Alliance

* The Zero Waste Alliance is a national leader providing assistance to industry sectors and organizations for development and implementation of standards, tools and practices that lead to a more sustainable future through the reduction and elimination of waste and toxics.

Law and policy

"Regulations, incentives and policies affecting sustainable agriculture are rooted in environmental legislation and laws on the international, Federal, state and local level." [24]

Law and policy sustainability organizations:

  • Earth Policy Institute

* dedicated to building an environmentally sustainable economy; raising awareness to support public response to population growth, rising CO2, loss of species, and other trends that are affecting the Earth

  • Global Exchange

* nonprofit organization that envisions a people-centered globalization that values the rights of workers and the health of the planet; that prioritizes international collaboration as central to ensuring peace; and that aims to create a local, green economy designed to embrace the diversity of our communities.

  • The Apollo Alliance

* a coalition of labor, business, environmental, and community leaders working to catalyze a clean energy revolution that will put millions of Americans to work in a new generation of high-quality, green-collar jobs. Inspired by the Apollo space program, this organization promotes investments in energy efficiency, clean power, mass transit, next-generation vehicles, and emerging technology, as well as in education and training.

  • The New Rules Project

* A comprehensive resource for policymakers, organizations and activists looking for innovative public policies enacted around the world that can be used to make communities vibrant and strong!” The site, run by The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), proposes a “new set of rules” which supports humanly scaled politics and economics.


News sustainability organizations:

  • A Better Future

* a one-of-a-kind “gateway” site to sustainable development. This site raises public awareness and promotes a societal movement toward more sustainable lifestyles. Helping the public from all walks of life better appreciate the scientific issues that underlie progress on global sustainability is at the heart of this site

  • Climate Project US

* a unique non-profit, non-partisan organization with more than 5,000,000 members worldwide, is committed to educating the global community about the urgency of implementing comprehensive solutions to the climate crisis.

  • EcoSnoop

* objective is to make people aware of ways to become greener

  • World Changing

* is a nonprofit media organization headquartered in Seattle, WA, that comprises a global network of independent journalists, designers and thinkers. We cover the world’s most innovative solutions to the planet’s problems, and inspire readers around the world with stories of new tools, models and ideas for building a bright green future.

  • Worldwatch Institute

* dedicated to fostering the evolution of an environmentally sustainable society—one in which human needs are met in ways that do not threaten the health of the natural environment or the prospects of future generations


Nonprofit organizations "play a part in society through their social value creation." [25] Many nonprofit organizations have adopted an organizational sustainability focus in both strategic and operational levels of management. Present nonprofit organizations have been required to adopt strategies aimed at establishing viable, sustainable organizations so that they can maintain to pursue their social mission. [26]

Non-profit sustainability organizations:

  • Action Without Borders

* a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 with offices in the United States and Argentina. It runs, an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives.

  • Cielito Lindo Ranch

* a non-profit organization operating off-the-grid in southwest New Mexico focusing on research into lost-cost easy to implement sustainable technologies that anyone can use to simplify and improve their life, testing these technologies, then teaching these technologies via on-line classes or on-site hands-on workshops. Current projects include zero-energy dwelling design and building, solar-wind energy, DIY biofuels, home-made low cost cleaners, home fish-farming and more.

Also operates a "demonstration community" which is an intentional community on the facilities 140 acre ranch.

  • Corporate Watch

* A non-profit organization committed to “holding corporations accountable.” Functions as a resource on corporate globalization research, news stories, and ways to take action. Also, organizes campaigns against political campaign financing, greenwashing, and war-profiteering.

  • Earth Island Institute

* works to find solutions to environmental problems by developing and supporting projects that promote the conservation, preservation and restoration of the Earth

  • Environmental Defense Fund

* Environmental Defense Fund is a leading national nonprofit organization representing more than 700,000 members. Guided by science, Environmental Defense Fund evaluates environmental problems and works to create and advocate solutions that win lasting political, economic and social support because they are nonpartisan, cost-efficient and fair.

  • Environmental Working Group (EWG)

* a not-for-profit environmental research organization that uses the power of information to improve public health and protect the environment by reducing pollution in air, water and food. Based in Washington, D.C., and with an office in Oakland, California, EWG conducts groundbreaking, computer-assisted research on a variety of environmental issues.

  • Green Cross International

* non-profit NGO founded by Mikhail Gorbachev with a mission to help create a sustainable future by cultivating harmonious relationships between humans and the environment

  • Institute for Alternative Futures

* For more than 30 years, IAF has been aiding organizations to more wisely choose and create their preferred futures. In 1982, Clem Bezold created IAF's for-profit subsidiary, Alternative Futures Associates (AFA), to help corporations integrate futures thinking into their strategic planning.

  • Shajar Dost Foundation (Friends of Trees)

* Shajar Dost is working to increase forest cover in Pakistan. Pakistan has the highest deforesttion rate in Asia. Shajar Dost is planting suplings in Murree at Mussyari on three hundred acres.

  • Social Venture Network (SVN)

* promotes new models and leadership for socially and environmentally sustainable business in the 21st century.” As a nonprofit network, they do this by championing member initiatives, information services, and community forums.

  • The Natural Step US

* Originally developed in Sweden, The Natural Step is a comprehensive model for strategic decision making. It supports the development of sustainable businesses and sustainable communities, large and small. The Natural Step is based on systems thinking

  • TransFair USA

* a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is one of twenty members of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), and the only third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States.


Organizations that offer global education resources, products, and services. Many educational organizations offer their own global education programs in the area of environmental sustainability, or resources for the development of sustainability programs.[27]

Sustainability school organizations:

  • Antioch University/Seattle

* has Masters and PhD level programs approaching environmental policy and sustainability issues from both a social science and natural science perspective.

  • Bainbridge Graduate Institute

* offers both an MBA in Sustainable Business and a Certificate in Sustainable Business. In these programs, students work with distinguished faculty from top business schools to master proven sustainability practices.

  • Ball State Minor

( in Sustainability

  • Evergreen State College

* offers a highly interdisciplinary model that sets the stage for successful curricular work in sustainability. Learning communities use whole systems thinking to approach the social and environmental aspects of sustainability. Evergreen offers programs in sustainability and a Masters in Environmental Studies.

  • Green Schools Initiative

* aims to improve the environmental health and ecological sustainability of schools in the U.S.

  • Islandwood

* on Bainbridge Island has an educational mission to inspire environmental and community stewardship.

  • Portland State University's

* Institute for Sustainable Solutions is PSU's hub for cross-disciplinary research, teaching, and partnerships in sustainability.

  • University of Florida

* currently offers a minor program in Sustainability Studies.

  • University of Washington

* has a Program on the Environment, an interdisciplinary, hands-on education at the human-environment nexus.

  • Washington State University

* has a Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. Within its College of Engineering and Architecture is the Institute for Sustainable Design.

  • Western Washington University

* offers a Minor Degree in Sustainable Design that is shared between the Engineering Technology Program and Huxley College of the Environment.

  • Wisconsin School of Business

* The Business, Environment & Social Responsibility Program (BESR) is housed within the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. BESR is home to the only graduate level certificate offered by the WI School of Business.


Many organizations provide an outlet for expanding and cultivating social networks in order to attain the most beneficial responses for various goals among sustainability stakeholders.[28] In other words, "many sustainability networking organizations are a catalyst in bringing about systemic change by giving decision makers a shared, science-based understanding of sustainability and a unifying framework for developing a sustainable society."[29]

Sustainability networking organizations:

  • GreenpeaceUSA

* uses non-violent direct action and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future

  • Sierra Club

* One of US’ oldest, largest environmental organizations for the protection, restoration, and responsible use of earth’s resources; site has extensive resources for information, networking, and action.

See also


List of sustainability topics

Outline of Sustainability

External links

  • EcoEarth.Info- Environment Portal & Search Engine
  • State of Washington Department of Ecology
  • Green Building Pages
  • Wisconsin School of Business


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