Dimensions of Green Business

ENVS  6599      Winter  2005

Wednesdays,  2:30-5:30 pm

141 HNES Bldg.



Course Director:  Brian Milani <bmilani@web.ca>



This course provides an in-depth exploration of green business concepts, principles and practices, following on the basics covered in last fall’s “Perspectives on Green Business.”   It is specifically designed to support students in developing their individual Plans of Study.  The course is open to everyone interested in green enterprise who meets the prerequisites, but it is particularly intended for those in the Business & Environment diploma program.


The course will fill out some key areas only touched on last term—the built-environment, money & finance, and “creating wealth from waste”—though a combination of lecture, reading, discussion, videos, and guest speakers.  But as a “group individual directed study” course, the rest of the course—about half—will depend on the specific interests and needs of participating students.  Those interests might involve a particular sector or specific issue. 


Possible topics for exploration might include:

§         the Carbohydrate Economy: alternatives to petrochemicals and chlorine.

§         the role of trade

§         bioregional production

§         eco-industrial development

§         “next generation” regulatory strategies

§         “right livelihood” and green work

§         green business networks

§         sustainable food systems

§         green market creation

§         eco-accounting and sustainability indicators

§         green tax shifting



(a) course-unit value: 3 credits

(b) assignments:  include three main components:

1.       book review: approx. 5 pages.  The student can choose a book from those listed here or any other approved book relating to green business.  Due by 8th week, but can be submitted earlier. (20% of grade)

2.       class presentation in final weeks of class: a concise 15 min. summary of any topic relating to green business.  (20% of grade).

3.       final term paper: on any topic of the student’s choosing, approx.15 pages (30% of grade).

(c) class participation: will constitute 30% of course grade. 





Brian Milani is coordinator for the FES side of the B&E program for the 2004-2005 year.  He is author of Designing the Green Economy, and a member of the Coalition for a Green Economy.  Brian’s focus for over two decades has been on creating grassroots ecological alternatives—through business, community development and education.  Brian was co-founder of Green City Construction, and is the director of Toronto’s long-running course on green economic alternatives—The Green Economy at the Labour Education Centre—featuring Toronto’s cutting edge eco-innovators.  Brian has also served as a member of the Labour Council of Toronto’s and Carpenter’s Local 27’s environment committees.  Besides being active with the Coalition for a Green Economy, he is currently an associate of the OISE-UT Transformative Learning Centre, and a member of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics (CANSEE).




Schedule & Readings

Week 1, January 5, Introduction: student introductions and statements of interest, with an overview of the course.



Week 2, January 12,  Closing the Loop: Creating Wealth from Waste

§         Helen Spiegelman, “Beyond Recycling: The Future of Waste,” Enough! magazine, Spring 2002

§          Keto Mshigeni and Gunter Pauli, Brewing a Future, Yes! magazine, Summer 1997

§         Beverley Thorpe, Beyond Recycling: Why we need Producer Responsibility in North America, presentation to the celebration of the Ecology Center’s ‘Thirty Year of Curbside Recycling’ , Berkeley, California, November 20, 2003

§         Brenda Platt, Zero Waste: 10 Steps to Get Started at the Local Level

§         Robin Murray, A Programme for Zero Waste, excerpt from Creating Wealth from Waste, Demos Press, 1999


Week 3, January 19,  The Development Industry

§         John T. Lyle, “Urban Ecosystems”, In Context magazine, Spring 1993

§         Gene Desfor, Roger Keil, Stefan Kipfer, Gerda Wekerle, “From Surf to Turf: No Limits to Growth in Toronto?”, forthcoming, Social and Political Economy, 2005

§         Elvira Cordileone, “Network To Combat Urban Sprawl: 24 groups join at founding meeting,Quebec suburbs more compact, The Toronto Star Sept. 6, 2003

§         Ontario Smart Growth Network Guiding Principles

§         Peter Calthorpe, “The Urban Network: A New Framework for Growth,”  Calthorpe Associates, 2004

§         Sarah Ruth Van Gelder, Diverse Green Beautiful Cities: an interview with Carl Anthony, Yes! magazine, Summer 1999.



§         Scott London, “The City of Tomorrow: an Interview with Peter Calthorpe,” adapted from the US Public Radio program, Insight and Outlook, 1997

§         Smart Growth Network, Getting to Smart Growth: 100 Policies for Implementation, 2002

§         Smart Growth Leadership Institute, “Smart Growth is Smart Business,” 2002 report

§         Toronto New Mobility Cluster Executive Summary, Moving the Economy



Week 4, January 26,  The Building Industry

§         Michael Smith, “The Case for Natural Building,” in Kennedy et al, The Art of Natural Building, New Society Publishers, 2002

§         Linda Baker, “What Makes the U.S. Green Building Council Tick,” Sustainable Industries Journal-Northwest, No. 22 (Nov. 2004)

§         Nadev Malin, “Greening Your Firm: Building Sustainable Design Capabilities,” Environmental Building News, May 2004

§         Neil Seldman and Mark Jackson, “Deconstruction Shifts From Philosophy to Business,”  BioCycle magazine, July 2000

§         Steve Lerner, “Pliny Fisk III: The Search for Low-Impact Building Materials and Techniques,” chapter 1 of Eco-Pioneers: Practical Visionaries Solving Today's Environmental Problems, MIT Press, 1997

§         Alex Wilson, “What Makes a Product Green?,” Environmental Building News, Volume 9, No. 1 -- January 2000

§         Davis Langdon consultants, “Examining the Cost of Green, executive summary of report,”  October 2004



Week 5,  February 2, Money and Finance

§         Marshall Glickman and Marjorie Kelly,  Working Capital: Can Socially Responsible Investing Make a Great Green Leap Forward?”,  E magazine, Vol. 15, no. 2 (March/April 2004)

§         Tim Cohen-Mitchell,  Community Currencies at a Crossroads: New Ways Forward,”  New Village Journal, no. 2 

§         Michael Jantzi Associates, Socially Responsible Investment in Canada

§         Thomas Greco, Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender, excerpt from Chelsea Green book, 2001


Week 6, February 9, Clean Production: Beyond PVC

--- class: documentary film: Blue Vinyl: A Toxic Comedy---

§         PVC and the Looming Waste Crisis, executive summary of report for the Center for Health, Environment & Justice and the Environmental Health Strategy Center, December 2004

§         Environmental Impacts of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Building Materials, Joe Thornton, Ph.D.

§         Alternatives to PVC: An Economic Analysis”, paper delivered to US Green Building Conference, Austin Texas, November 14, 2002, by Frank Ackerman, Tufts University

§         PVC Plastic—an “Environmental Poison”, and why some governments and industry are phasing it out, Powerpoint presentation by Beverley Thorpe of Clean Production Action,  Toronto, March 6, 2003

§         The Life-cycle of PVC, My House is Your House (Blue Vinyl) website



Week 7, February 27, Corporate Social Responsibility I

Note: because of a conflict with Prof. Wheeler’s class this week, this class has been moved to 7:30 pm Thursday night—at Toronto City Hall, Queen & Bay

Click here for more on this Event


Readings (for both Feb. 27 and March 16):

§         Bob Willard, The Sustainability Advantage: Seven Business Case Benefits of a Triple Bottom Line, Gabriola Island BC: New Society Publishers, 2002

§         David Korten, Limits to the Social Responsibility of Business

§         Randall Frost, Corporate Social Responsibility and Globalization: A Reassessment

§         Gil Friend / Natural Logic, Sustainability Primer: Core Competencies and Emerging Opportunities



Week 8, March 2, Ecological Self-Regulation: EPR and Indicators

Readings: to be posted shortly




Week 9, March 9   Researching Green Business and Green Economics

focus on student Plans of Study and ideas for Major Papers/Projects

Readings: to be posted



Week 10, March 16:   Corporate Social Responsibility II

Readings:   see February 27




Week 11, March 23:  Student Presentations


   20 minutes, with 10 more for questions






Week 12, March 30:   Wrap-Up, Green Business Free-for-all





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