These days, discourse on sustainability is catching a lot of attention among project managers, students, and universities, entrepreneurs, and news media outlets. People have different ways of expressing it, but no group of people had eloquently spoken about it better than the panelist at a recently held Potato Expo 2012 in Orlando when every participant from potato growers, processors to retail analysts kept repeating the fact that sustainability was not only the balance between the Planet, People and Profit also known as the 3Ps or Triple bottom line (TBL) but was the right business action to take.

This paper tries to explain the 3Ps from recent news articles, reports, media perspectives and provides general cost-saving measures required to reach the goal of sustainability in every business industry, organization and community.


The meanings of sustainability that one gets from the news seem to differ somehow amongst entrepreneurs, professors, students, and politicians. However, Brundtland Commission report of 1987 that defines sustainability as: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs” seems to be more relevant to the goals that most companies endeavor to achieve (Maltzman & Shirley, 2011, p. 19). One of the world’s largest public relations agencies with a global network of 80 offices, Fleishman-Hillard, indicated that sustainability was more than a PR strategy or marketing campaigning but an essential business strategy one that can advance long-term business success. In other words, sustainability can measure a firm capacity to achieve business goals, increase long-term value, and directly impact the bottom line.

Moreover, recently the White House Council on Environment Quality reiterated its commitment to among other things: engage in leadership on environmental health and sustainability, serve healthier food, reduce energy use, reduce waste and recycle, use safe chemicals and purchase environmentally preferable products

However, talking about sustainability without taking the appropriate action is cheap. To create a balance between the 3Ps will require broader integrated policy framework that will also align to enterprise objectives

The 3 P or 3 Triple Bottom Lines Defined

The 3Ps incorporates three dimensions of performance categories: social, environmental, and financial. They operate independently of the others, but organizations become innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable when the trio is driven together.

The  3Ps Cost-Saving Measures and strategic policy areas
DefinitionSustainability strategies cover
The Planet
(Environmental  Sustainability)
 Compliance with environmental law or regulation,  material use, waste, clean air, energy management, avoid spills, water or air pollution, support biodiversity, recycle program, reduce cooling and heating usage during non-business hours, use e-technology to minimize paper and mail volume.
(Social Sustainability)
Health and safety, HR management, business ethics, diversity, accessibility, labor rights, quality of life, house or homeownership, reduce price, education attainment
(Economic Sustainability)
ROI, Direct economic contribution, investment in R & D, community development, employee compensation, supply chain, and contractor, avoiding greenwashing management, provide excellent customer satisfaction, train employees to perform efficiently,
General Cost Reduction Measurements
Reduce power consumption, carbon footprints, and electricity, greening power use renewable energy like wind and solar, efficient,  use material and human resources more efficiently, investment in clean energy, reduce water consumption for interior and landscape, use power efficiently, purchase Energy Star qualified appliances and devices, reduce the footprint of packaging and disposal, purchase and use of fuel-efficient cars, meet LEED, ISO 1400, EPA standards, develop metrics, scorecards, and measurement systems, engage shareholders or stakeholders in environmental commitment,


The application of the strategies of sustainability is increasing rapidly. Firms will continue to create conditions conducive to the advancement of individuals, communities, local organizations if the concept is integrated into the corporate policy framework. It will enable firms to cut energy costs and sustain the interests of business, people, and the environment.


Maltzman, R., & Shirley, D. (2011). Green Project Management. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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