Features & Articles

Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Are Focus of New Center

In late September, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and University of Pittsburgh Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd were among local leaders who highlighted the region’s accomplishments in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during a forum at the 74th U.N. General Assembly in New York. 

In October, they joined together again with academic experts and nonprofit and business leaders to celebrate a new center in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration designed to make the University a world-renowned hub for applied research on sustainable business and further highlight the region’s leadership. 

“Together we are committed to facilitating partnerships for a more sustainable world,” said Cudd in welcoming remarks at an Oct. 24 inaugural event that drew more than 100 partners and guests to Pitt’s University Club. 

two women sitting at a table, smiling

Partnership benefits

Through their membership, CSB corporate sponsors contribute to:

  • Collaborative thought leadership in the field of sustainable business strategy.
  • Partnership in groundbreaking research that has positive environmental, social and financial impacts.
  • Investments in innovative approaches to training and educating a new generation of sustainable business leaders.

In addition to research and training opportunities, CSB members will convene to focus in depth on topics of their choice in twice-yearly Sustainable Business Forums. The first forum is scheduled for February 2020.

Membership details are outlined on the CSB’s Corporate Sponsorship Options page

The Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) will engage global and regional companies in more effectively integrating environmental and societal concerns into their business models. It launched with a daylong forum focused on forming strategic partnerships, investing in applied research and training a new generation of sustainability leaders. 

“The future is here and we are deeply, deeply dedicated to supporting this important work, moving beyond a shareholder-focused mindset of the past, to focus instead on the stakeholder-centric approach to business,” Cudd said.

“The center is just one example of how Pitt is working to tackle pressing global issues and challenges—such as those articulated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals—through strategic partnerships, and in this case with leading global companies,” she added.  

Said the mayor: “The U.N. SDGs that were created for nations to follow can only be implemented by institutions, cities and corporations at the local level. When cities and companies decide to adopt those principles, we can change the world.” 

A commitment to students 

The establishment of this new center marks the school’s commitment to sustainability, to the future and to students—who are eager to learn about sustainable practices, said Arjang A. Assad, Henry E. Haller Jr. Dean of Pitt Business. 

“Our students need to know about this personally and professionally and it is our job as educators to put it into our curriculum in multiple ways,” Assad said. “We can only do that with the help of our corporate sponsors, friends, people in the community, people in industry and of course with the rest of the University of Pittsburgh involved.

“The center gives our school the opportunity to make every possible connection regarding sustainability across the University and also in the community,” said Assad.  

CB Bhattacharya, the H.J. Zoffer Chair in Sustainability and Ethics in the Katz school and a globally recognized author and researcher in the field of sustainable business strategy, leads the center. 

“Attention to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profits has never been more important in business, but companies often fail to reap the full value of their investments in sustainability and corporate responsibility because sustainability is not well integrated throughout the organization,” said Bhattacharya. 

“Sustainability can’t be viewed as ‘someone else’s job.’ It’s only when individuals are trained and empowered as sustainability generalists that a culture of sustainability can take root and begin to yield benefits for all stakeholders both inside and outside of the company. Our mission is to help companies tackle that all-important question of ‘how’ to best embed sustainability throughout the organization.”

Sustained by partnerships

Established with seed funding from The Heinz Endowments, the CSB will be self-sustaining through the support of sponsor members—local, regional, national and international companies committed to learning how to integrate more sustainable practices. 

CB Bhattacharya
“The Pitt CSB’s collaborative strategies for guiding organizations toward more sustainable practices will help improve regional environmental quality, promote a higher quality of life and create a more prosperous future for all,” said Andrew McElwaine, vice president of sustainability at The Heinz Endowments. “We are pleased to support these important efforts to equip businesses with the knowledge and leadership needed to become more sustainable.”

Inaugural corporate members of the center are: BASF Corp., CONSOL Energy, Enel North America, IBM, Peoples Natural Gas, PITT OHIO and PPG.

"The Center offers a timely opportunity to integrate sustainability considerations throughout both graduate and undergraduate teaching and research, reflecting how we focus on environmental sustainability across IBM's business operations,” said Wayne Balta, vice president of corporate environmental affairs and product safety at IBM.

“PITT OHIO leverages a sustainability business strategy to differentiate our service offerings which also create more value for our customers,” said Geoff Muessig, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Pittsburgh-based transportation services firm. “We are pleased to support the Center for Sustainable Business mission to educate the business community to adopt similar sustainability strategies and practices. All of our communities will benefit as the Pitt CSB assists other companies to become more knowledgeable about the benefits of sustainability for customers, employees and shareholders.”

Among its efforts, PITT OHIO has partnered with Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering to develop solar- and wind-powered microgrids to supply electric power to its truck terminal facilities, a project recently showcased in Pittwire.