The Sustainability Handbook: The Complete Management Guide to Achieving Social, Economic, and Environmental Responsibility, 2nd

The Sustainability Handbook 2nd Edition
William R. Blackburn
Release Date

The Sustainability Handbook 2nd Edition covers the complexities, challenges, and benefits of sustainability when pursued by corporate, academic, government, and nonprofit organizations. This second edition identifies the newest, most cutting-edge practices in the field to stimulate organizations of all types to take the next step toward sustainability, offering a wide variety of practical approaches and tools, including a model sustainability policy for organizations, summaries and tips on selecting sustainability codes, an extensive collection of sample metrics, and much more. Organizations of all sizes can improve their chances of success—and survival—by integrating sustainability into their operations and decisionmaking. This handbook provides a blueprint on how organizations can reach or exceed economic, social, and environmental excellence.

About the Author

For over 40 years, William R. (Bill) Blackburn has been involved with the management of global programs on environmental, health, and safety (EHS), as well as on programs on sustainability as that concept has emerged. He is a frequent lecturer around the world on these topics. Until 2003, Blackburn was vice president and chief counsel of Corporate Environment, Health, and Safety at Baxter International Inc., a large global manufacturer and distributor of medical products based in Deerfield, Illinois. As a sustainability leader at Baxter, Blackburn led efforts pioneering effective sustainability performance metrics; transparent sustainability reports; innovative management standards; unique environmental cost and income statements; and sound emergency response programs. Baxter’s operations received over 300 external awards for EHS excellence while Blackburn guided the company’s program. Prior to joining Baxter in 1978, Blackburn was the general counsel at Clinton Bogert Associates, an environmental engineering firm in New Jersey. Today, Blackburn continues his work on EHS and sustainability issues as the president of a consulting firm, William Blackburn Consulting Ltd. His firm advises organizations on the performance, structure, strategy, planning, and development of programs related to sustainability, EHS, and crisis management/emergency response. His clients include large and small companies; nonprofit organizations; local governments; universities; trade and professional associations; and multi-stakeholder coalitions. The firm is a social enterprise, with all net revenues going to The Green Hollow Center, a nature preserve and sustainability learning center in the environmentally rich Loess Hills of Southwest Iowa.
For more information on Blackburn and his firm, visit his website at or contact him at

Book Reviews

This truly comprehensive and invaluable handbook covers in systematic steps everything from definitions of sustainability, the arguments for its adoption, to a well-developed operating system for embedding sustainability in a company. There are chapters on choice of indicators, reporting, and verification. With a strong emphasis on stakeholder engagement, there are also suggestions for the application of the approach to NGOs, universities, and cities. Brought completely up-to-date with current trends in sustainability and the just agreed upon U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, this text is one that a person from an organization at the early stages of the journey would benefit from reading from cover to cover, while a person looking to raise his or her game further can seek inspiration and advice from individual chapters.
—Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Former Chairman, Anglo American plc and Royal Dutch/Shell

This leading book translates sustainability from an idea into real world practice for companies and all organizations.  An unparalleled resource, it’s a great book, and deserves the widest possible audience.
L. Hunter Lovins, President, Natural Capitalism Solutions

This updated version of The Sustainability Handbook should be on every Sustainability Leader’s bookshelf. Blackburn combines his current study of the field with his years of directing an industry-leading company to deliver techniques and tools for the reader to use to successfully integrate sustainability into their organization.
—Jim Thomas, VP-Sustainability, Safety, Environment, Risk, Ethics & Compliance,  Petco Animal Supplies, Inc.

If I was on a desert island and had to pick just ONE resource to learn, absorb, and then apply sustainability knowledge and best practices, I would pick The Sustainability Handbook—without a bit of a flinch. It will serve as your sustainability beacon—a one-stop shop for a clear, honest, and thorough sustainability education and guide.
—Bob Langert, Retired VP of Sustainability, McDonald’s Corp., Editor-at-Large, Green Biz Group

Blackburn's prodigious work surveys sustainability principles and practices across many sectors: public and private, business, government, education, NGOs, etc. With that breadth, it was frankly a little surprising to see the section on higher education be so accurate in its diagnosis of discrete challenges and so appropriate in the presentation of solutions and examples. Blackburn cut to the quick of higher education’s sustainability bones and fleshed them outsufficiently enough for professionals entering our craft to understand their context and path forward. Well-done and valuable content in a minimum of space. Nicely done!
—Dave Newport, LEED AP, Director, Environmental Center, University of Colorado-Boulder

William Blackburn is making another major contribution to those organizations that are serious about embedding sustainability into their corporate strategies. This updated handbook provides an excellent guide for everybody, no matter where they are on their journey, towards creating a more sustainable organization.
—Dawn Rittenhouse, Director, Sustainability, DuPont Company

Bill Blackburn’s all sense and no-nonsense guide to sustainability’s relevance to business is the ultimate practical handbook telling executives all they need to know, but may not want to ask in public. Blackburn combines his extensive experience with strategic insight to demonstrate practical approaches to make your business future fit.
—Ernst Ligteringen, Former Chief Executive, Global Reporting Initiative, Amsterdam

This stellar book is a core reference for our class on corporate sustainability strategy, and the students respond with universal enthusiasm. Packed with strategies and examples, it includes tables and charts that companies can use as practical tools to implement sustainability frameworks. The second edition carries us into today’s world by mainstreaming sustainability into the core of every business activity. I highly recommend it to anyone serious about the nuts and bolts of sustainability and making it operational in your organization.
—Suzanne Farver, ALM, J.D. Instructor, Harvard University, Author, Mainstreaming Corporate Sustainability

I really liked the first edition of Blackburn's book and recommended it enthusiastically to both MBAs and management professionals for its practical orientation to the “business” of sustainability. This second edition is even better and more comprehensive. With it, Bill has made yet another tremendous contribution to the management literature on sustainability.
—Dennis J. Aigner, Professor of Economics, Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine, Former Dean, Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara

Blackburn’s book lays out concepts in a uniquely straightforward and accessible manner for the sustainability novice and professional alike. What I found so meaningful are the practical examples and solutions that are applicable to any business—a beacon for those searching for commonsense approaches in responsible leadership.
—Jon Cammack, Ph.D. Sr. Vice President, R&D/Clinical Quality, AstraZeneca Biologics | Global Operations

I have been in the field of sustainable finance and development for over 20 years and I find this book an invaluable asset to my library; I am always finding something new within its pages. The Sustainable Handbook is much more than a handbook; it should be the "go to" book for anyone who is interested in a broad understanding of sustainability and sustainable development. A request to the United Nations and the World Bank: this book should be required reading for any and everyone who works in and practices with the field of sustainable development.
—Dr. Tauni Lanier, CEO EcoCapital, London

William Blackburn is an expert on environmental management and sustainability. The second edition of his book helps stakeholders of all types go from theory to useful and applied practice. With William’s knowledge, experiences, and skills, combined with a pedagogical learning and writing, this book is one of the books that must be on the desks of all stakeholders who want and need to develop in the area of sustainability.
—Magnus Enell, Ph.D.Senior Adviser, Enell Sustainable Business AB, Adjunct Professor, KTH, Industrial Ecology, Sweden

Bill Blackburn is one of the foremost experts in the nation on sustainability, and his new edition should be read by everyone committed to improving our environment. His comprehensive work covering sustainable development, business practices, and social responsibility is a valuable resource for all practitioners. This book provides a strong basis for a better future. A must-read book.
—John C. Cruden, Past Chair, ABA Section on Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources

Bill Blackburn’s Sustainability Handbook is an extraordinarily helpful and practical guide for making serious progress toward sustainability in any organization.
—John Dernbach,Distinguished Professor of Law, Director, Environmental Law and Sustainability Center, Widener University Commonwealth Law School

This has something for everyone, whether you are a seasoned sustainability practitioner or new to the field. Bill has “been there, done that” and provided lots of practical ideas, tools, resources, and references.
—James Margolis. Partner, ERM, EHS and Sustainability Management Consulting

A comprehensive, very practical guide by one of the leaders in the field.
—Daniel Diermeier, Dean, Harris School of Public Policy, The University of Chicago

Sustainability continues to be a very significant aspect not only of environmental, health, and safety management, but management of the entire corporation. Civil society follows these issues closely through today’s instantaneous communication and internal disclosures. Outside reporting requirements and demands continue to grow. This book provides an excellent guide to the myriad issues related to sustainability and the practical aspects of program implementation and communication. It is truly a handbook.
—Frank Friedman, President, Frank B. Friedman & Associates, LLC, Author of the Practical Guide to Environmental Management

The Sustainability Handbook is an invaluable resource for sustainability professionals of all sorts. Bill has gathered in one place the wisdom gained through years of experience at the coalface, and the result is an approachable, authoritative, and empowering volume. You will find The Sustainability Handbook useful for years to come.
—Judy Kuszewski, Co-Founder, Shine Sustainability (UK), Member, Global Sustainability Standards Board, GRI

This leading book translates sustainability from an idea into real world practice for companies and all organizations. An unparalleled resource, it’s a great book and deserves the widest possible audience.
—L. Hunter Lovins, President, Natural Capitalism Solutions