Sustainability Management

  • What is sustainability management?
  • What are the drivers and inhibitors of sustainability?
  • Why is sustainability management so critical?

My academic and professional expertise is in management, and one consideration missing from standard management education is sustainability. In addition to traditional areas such as finance, human resources, information management and strategy, managers must also learn to control the use of energy, water and other raw materials, and must pay attention to the content and cost of the waste produced by their organizations.

So what exactly is sustainability management?  Sustainability management can be broadly defined as the organizational management practices that result in sustainable development.  It is a management practice that minimizes environmental impact and maximizes resource conservation and reuse. The depletion of our natural resources is clear and presents challenges for all organizations in the future. Companies such as Wal-Mart and Bank of America are beginning to understand that managing sustainably benefits their profit margin and long term resiliency as well as the environment. I discuss examples of such companies in the posts that follow, taking a specific interest in the economic motivation behind sustainability management. I also discuss the need for sustainability management at the local, national, and global levels and evaluate our progress toward meeting this need.


The “Can’t-Do” Approach of the American Auto Industry (March 27, 2017)

Millennials Looking for a Place in the Emerging Green Economy (January 23, 2017)

Bringing the Culture of Sustainability Management to Princess Cruise Lines (December 5, 2016)

Earth Observation Science, Public Policymaking, and the Trump Administration (November 28, 2016)

Climate Change and Complexity of Science (July 25, 2016)

Interdependence, Sustainability, and a Sense of Place (July 11, 2016)

Science and Sustainability Management: 20 Years of Columbia’s Earth Institute (July 5, 2016)

Learning from Volkswagen’s $10 Billion Sustainability Mistake (June 27, 2016)

Quiet Moves Toward a Renewable Resource Based Economy (June 20, 2016)

Understanding the Sustainable Lifestyle (June 6, 2016)

New York City’s Bag Fee and the Circular Economy (May 9, 2016)

Moving the Global Economy Toward Sustainability (April 4 2016)

Zero Waste in San Francisco and New York: A Tale of Two Cities (March 28, 2016)

Slowly Moving to Protect the Environment (March 7, 2016)

Protecting Our Drinking Water (February 29, 2016)

The Sustainable City (February 8, 2016)

There’s Plenty of Blame for Flint, Michigan’s Water Crisis (January 19, 2016)

Garbage: The Back End of the Renewable Economy (December 14, 2015)

Growing the Global Economy Without Destroying the Planet (November 30, 2015)

Sustainability Has Entered the Political Mainstream (October 12, 2015)

Volkswagen Needs to Adopt 21st Century Management (September 28, 2015)

Volkswagen’s Shame and Challenge to Sustainability Management (September 21, 2015)

EPA Spilled, but Didn’t Dump, the Toxics That Ended up in Colorado’s River (August 17, 2015)

The Centrality of Sustainability (June 22, 2015)

California Dreaming: Drought and Development (April 6, 2015)

Educating Sustainability Professionals: Learning by Doing (February 16, 2015)

Banning Styrofoam, Managing Our Waste, and Promoting Sustainability (January 12, 2015)

The Growing Level of Environmental Awareness (December 29, 2014)

Educating the First Generation of Sustainability Managers (December 15, 2014)

America’s Infrastructure Disinvestment Will Slow the Development of a Sustainable Economy (November 24, 2014)

Work and a Sustainable Future (September 15, 2014)

Competent Leaders Need to Understand the Science of Sustainability (July 7, 2014)

Individual Material Consumption, Guilt and the Crisis in Global Sustainability (June 16, 2014)

Applying Brainpower to Address the Global Sustainability Crisis (May 19, 2014)

Sustainable Consumption and the Global Environmental Crisis (April 28, 2014)

Facing the Climate Crisis Without Hysteria (April 7, 2014)

Aruba: Building a Sustainable Resort Island (March 31, 2014)

The Role of Government in the Transition to a Sustainable Economy (February 10, 2014)

Sustainability, Leadership and Management Innovation (January 27, 2014)

Reducing the Toxicity of Modern Technology (January 6, 2014)

China Can Clean Its Air (December 16, 2013)

We Need to Accelerate the Development of Sustainability Metrics (October 14, 2013)

Network Management and the Changing Nature of Work (August 22, 2013)

Sustainable Consumption and the Technology of Sustainability (August 19, 2013)

Reducing Greenhouse Gases and Promoting Sustainability in the Global Economy (July 1, 2013)

The Push Behind Corporate Sustainability Management (March 25, 2013)

Lisa Jackson’s Departure and the Irrelevance of the EPA to the Obama Team (January 2, 2013)

The Growing Momentum Behind Sustainability Management (October 31, 2012)

Distance Learning and the Future of Education (October 1, 2012)

Hydrofracking Politics and Sustainability Management (May 7, 2012)

Scientific Research and a Sustainable Planet (March 12, 2012)

We Don’t Really Know How to Stimulate Sustainable Economic Growth (August 8, 2011)

All Effective Management Must Be Sustainability Management (June 27, 2011)

The Profession of Sustainability Management: Source for Optimism in a Scary World (March 28, 2011)

The Transition to Sustainability Management Is Finally Underway (September 1, 2010)

Changing Obama’s Management Style Alone Will Not Prevent the Next Environmental Catastrophe (June 7, 2010)

Preventing the Next Environmental Catastrophe (May 24, 2010)

EPA’s Pragmatic Approach to Regulating Climate (February 24, 2010)

The Real Climate Choice Before Congress: Cap and Trade or Command and Control? (January 5, 2010)

Climate Policy and Sustainability Management (December 21, 2009)