“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.” - Albert Einstein

Aquinas College

Triple Bottom Line


Sustainability- Triple Bottom Line
Drawing by Liz Ivkovich

Most organizations today measure business success using the traditional bottom line...profitability, as profits are essential for the survival of both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. However, sustainable businesses take two other bottom lines into consideration: natural capital and social capital. Every decision made by a sustainable business must not harm (or may even improve) environmental quality and must have a social/community building component. Companies should treat their employees as valuable resources and give back to their community.

Luckily, the same business practices that improve social and environmental capital have been shown to also improve long-term profitability. When implemented, sustainable business practices provide an avenue to achieve mutual benefits in the natural world, the community, and the economy. This movement has given traction to the "next industrial revolution", where business people and environmentalists are sharing the common goal of improving the global community, environment and economy for present and future generations.


Business and Sustainable Development (BSD)

The BSD site was created and is maintained by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). The web site has information on current sustainability issues, strategies and tools to incorporate the concept into business activities, markets, banking and investment, information on working with NGOs, and training opportunities. The wide variety of case studies are particularly noteworthy, including information on the triple bottom line.

The Dictionary of Sustainable Management by Presidio Graduate School

“This Dictionary of Sustainable Management is an open dictionary for business leaders and students of sustainability and business-related terms. It is a project of the Presidio Graduate School. The purpose of this effort is to help people better understand how sustainability concepts are creating new understandings in the worlds of business, government, and society.”

Funded by the Steelcase Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Header photo by Carol Y. Swinehart, courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant Extension
Site by CMC/GrandNet