Bridging Sustainability: Growing Triple-Bottom-Line Businesses Through Learning, Change and Leadership

Client Organization: 
Green Garage Detroit
Project Location : 
Detroit, MI
Summary of Project Idea: 

Mission-driven small businesses are playing an increasingly important role in shaping Detroit's economic future.  Crucial to the success of these businesses is integrating social and environmental values into the core of their identities.  While much literature exists about incorporating social and environmental responsibility strategies into large corporations, those methodologies cannot be directly applied successfully to small businesses, which operate on entirely different scales and with limited resources.  The question remains: How do you grow triple-bottom-line small businesses, those that succeed in all three areas of people, planet, and profit?

The SNRE master's project team investigated this research question by working intimately with select businesses at Green Garage, a business incubator in Detroit focused on community and sustainability, where the team served as student-consultants fostering the implementation of sustainabile processes into the core operations of each business.  Through this action-based research, the team found that triple-bottom-line businesses require four ingredients to grow: transformational leadership, collective learning, innovative processes, and effective change management. 

SEAS Program Areas: 
Sustainable Systems
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Andrew Hoffman
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Jusin D'Atri, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Prashanth Gururaja, MS/MSE Sustainable Systems
  • Marwa Kamel, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Elen Shien, MS Sustainable Systems
Project Status: 
Past Project