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Business Sustainability by Leveraging the Phoenix Green Business Leader Program

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It is well-known that social-ecological systems are tremendously influenced by the decisions and actions of businesses. There is also widespread agreement that sustainability standards are necessary in addressing business-as-usual thinking.

It is well-known that social-ecological systems are tremendously influenced by the decisions and actions of businesses. There is also widespread agreement that sustainability standards are necessary in addressing business-as-usual thinking. However, how to guide business transformation by utilizing sustainability standards remains under dispute. The City of Phoenix offers a Green Business Leader Program, which is a voluntary sustainability certification for local businesses to receive recognition for waste diversion, water conservation, energy efficiency, and sustainability awareness. This project leverages the City of Phoenix Green Business Leader Program to help a local architecture and design firm, Winslow+Partners, to implement enough sustainable practices to become Platinum level certified. The final deliverables include the newly implemented practices at Winslow+Partners, a Winslow+Partners Sustainability Guide, and a Green Business Program Practitioner Guide. The Winslow+Partners Sustainability Guide provides a roadmap for the new initiatives to be sustained at Winslow+Partners, which will be added to the employee handbook.
This project challenges the idea that a green business program can create impactful change. Twenty-eight green business programs were analyzed against the Literature Review, and 16 of these programs’ practitioners were informally interviewed. After synthesis of these findings, the Green Business Program Practitioner Guide was created and shared with the green business program practitioners to use to reflect on and improve their programs. The Winslow+Partners experience is also posed as a case study within this guide (Figure 12). This project conducted a comprehensive analysis of green business programs through three perspectives, including the perspective of the business going through the program, through publicly available information, and then through the perspective of the practitioners themselves. It is this project’s intent to help create the most effective green business programs in US history, propelling the US sustainability movement full speed ahead. This study offers an inside look at how businesses and practitioners interact with voluntary sustainability certifications and examines how, and if, a green business program can lead to transformational sustainability. This project asks, can green business certifications create transformational change?

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  • 2019-05-15