Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and Hunter Lovins, 1999
Natural Capitalism is one of the key books of the green business revolution. It is packed with stories of businesses, governments, and other organizations around the world making a positive difference. Describing the city of Curitiba in Brazil, it describes how smart urban design has not only improved the lives of its citizens, but provides for cost effective solutions for common problems like urban transportation. In another chapter Natural Capitalism describes the "Hypercar" which would be radically more fuel and resource efficient while still providing for personal transportation. For our buildings it describes the enormous savings to be had through more efficient green buildings.
The list goes on and on, describing how one industry after another can be greened, considering the value of natural systems and transforming the entire economy to be radically more efficient, cleaner, productive, and sustainable for the long term. Its pages are packed with optimism about the ability of businesses to have a positive impact on the world. We are not all driving Hypercars yet but the world is catching up to these visionary authors.
Hot, Flat and Crowded By Thomas Friedman, 2008
In The World is Flat, Friedman chronicled the impact of globalization on our nation, our economy, and our lives. Now Friedman takes the story one step further, throwing climate change and population growth into the mix. It's a small world after all, but it's not all problems though. With some sound policy and help from the populace (that's you and me) the green economy can come to the rescue, building a new and better economy, satisfying the resource needs of the developing world, and fighting climate change. Friedman describes the plan for taking on these challenges as "Code Green", saying "the challenge is actually an opportunity for America. If we take it on, it will revive America at home, reconnect America abroad, and retool America for tomorrow." I couldn't agree more.
The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems By Van Jones, 2008
Van Jones is a man with a vision, and its a good one. He sees the green economy growing and creating millions of jobs for people creating and building systems to harvest solar and wind energy, and making our buildings energy efficient. These are high quality jobs that cannot be offshored, jobs that can turn around the economy in areas losing manufacturing, jobs and businesses that open opportunities in the inner city, building pathways out of poverty. He sees the green economy helping all segments of society, giving new hope to those left out by the old economy. He sees this both as an opportunity and the just road to take.
What's more, not only does Jones have a vision, but he's working to make it happen with his group Green For All and many partners across the country. It's looking more and more like his vision is becoming a reality.
Green to Gold By Daniel Esty and Andrew Winston, 2006
In Green to Gold, Esty and Winston delve into the green work at some of the biggest companies, and not just the ones you might associate with green. By talking the top executives at Wal-Mart, DuPont, 3M and many other companies, they find that by going green these "waveriders" are wasting less, growing more efficient, increasing profits, and opening new opportunities. Starting out by examining the many drivers of environmental efforts in business, they then examine what businesses are doing to survive and thrive in this environment, building an "eco-advantage". From there, they describe the practical strategies that managers and executives in other businesses can adopt as well.
There is still a widely held assumption among many that going green is an expensive luxury, but the thorough research of Esty and Winston and the many solid business examples they provide show that going green may actually be the solution for businesses of all sizes and in all industries to survive.
Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World By Gary Hirshberg, 2008
Gary Hirshberg is the CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farm, producer of organic yogurt. In his book he argues the case for how going green is the right thing to do and a profitable one as well, telling the story of Stonyfield and many other examples as well. Hirshberg is truly commited to the green cause, but he is an ardent capitalist as well: "And lest you dismiss my enthusiasm as nothing more than the delusional rants of a child of the sixties, I hasten to remind you that I am a passionate capitalist who has created thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of capital appreciation for hundreds of investors in Stonyfield Farm."
By going organic, wasting less, getting more efficient and cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Hirshberg and the many other eco-entrepreneurs he describes are both doing the right thing and making money in the process. For all of the progress Hirshberg describes, we need far more like him to join the green economy. Books like his help the next wave of green entrepreneurs to learn from the experiences of green leaders who have lead the way.
The Clean Tech Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder, 2007
We are in the midst of an unprecedented opportunity, with trillions of dollars moving toward clean and renewable technologies in the years ahead. Pernick and Wilder describe trends in solar, wind, biofuels, green building, cars, the smart grid, and water and they tell the stories of the promising companies taking on these challenges. This is no environmental manifesto or a finger-pointing description of where we have gone wrong. This is a description of those working on solutions by harnessing the power of business. The current economic situation will not change the underlying drivers of massive long-term growth in these industries.
Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise, the Interface Model by Ray Anderson, 1998
Ray Anderson is the founder and CEO of Interface, Inc., a large and very successful floor covering company. Carpeting has traditionally taken a heavy environmental toll, from the production of carpeting with a great deal of pollution and waste, to the dumping of millions of tons of used carpeting in landfills. In Mid-Course Correction Ray Anderson relates how after reading The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken, he experienced a "spear in the chest moment", a sudden realization of the heavy impact of Interface on the world around him. From there he set out to change how they do business, working together with many others to create a plan to climb "Mt. Sustainability", reducing waste, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. At the time the book was written Anderson and Interface had already demonstrated significant results, growing profits even as they reduced their environmental impact.
The journey up Mt. Sustainability is not a trivial one, and still continues today. Anderson has helped to provide leadership on this journey, and encourage many others to climb up the same route.