February Meeting: Business Management in the Anthropocene

Hoffman 1

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will welcome the director of the nation’s top-ranked sustainable business school and author of Flourishing: A Frank Conversation on Sustainability for a luncheon program examining the new reality of sustainable business on Monday, February 10, at Aquinas College from 12 to 2 pm. The program will also include a case study on the renovation of Grand Rapids’ first green roof.

Andy Hoffman is the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan; a position that holds joint appointments at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources & Environment.  Within this role he also serves as Director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. He has published over 100 articles and book chapters, as well as 11 books, which have been translated into 5 languages.  He earned his PhD from MIT.

Hoffman will discuss the implications of an emerging cultural shift to sustainable business, the necessity of “dark greens” and “light greens,” the waning meaning of environmental rhetoric, and the difficulties of forming a social consensus around climate change.  Hoffman asks, “If sustainability has gone mainstream in management practice and management science, why are so many social and environmental problems getting worse?”

He will argue that conceptions of sustainability are presently based on traditional notions of business strategy and eco-efficiency, defined by existing routines and processes. But the notion of Anthropocene (human life as a geophysical force able to alter the climate) highlights the emerging reality that we now face something fundamentally new, requiring new and different forms of market shifts and responses.

Also on the agenda is a case study on the renovation of designer Thomas Newhouse’s green roof, the first of its kind in West Michigan. Experts from Eco Metrics and Advanced Green Architecture will discuss how the 35-year-old, self-invented, self-planted live roof (designated a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation) was updated with a state-of-the-art, locally designed and manufactured green roof system.  A preview of a presentation planned for Greenbuild 2014, the project team will explain how they focused on creating added value beyond stormwater and energy benefits by designing specifically for increased biodiversity and wildlife habitat.  Attendees will learn basic design principles associated with habitat restoration on green roofs along with a review of the project installation.  

The meeting will also serve as a kick-off to the 2014 WMSBF Green Leaders and Future Green Leaders Competition, the forum’s third annual essay competition and eighth annual scholarship competition. 

This month’s program is presented by Eco Metrics, Advanced Green Architecture and Thomas J. Newhouse Design, with additional support from Aquinas College and Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown.

Cost for lunch is $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Full-time students are free with RSVP thanks to a donation from Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.  Learn more and RSVP here.

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