The Patterns of a Conservation Economy
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Shorebank Enterprise Pacific in Ilwaco, Washington provides a revolving loan fund and technical assistance to restorative businesses.
Image by Diane Moody.

Community Benefit

Enhancing the social capital of employees, customers, community members, and other stakeholders is seen by many businesses as a cost rather than an opportunity.

A Green Business creates value for the many constituencies it interacts with: employees, customers, community members, suppliers, vendors, owners, and surrounding ecosystems. It helps to enhance Social Equity and build Local Assets through its ownership structure and business decisions. It often creates a Sense of Place and celebrates Cultural Diversity. A Green Business tends to meet Fundamental Needs.

Employee retention, training, and morale are essential to a strategy of Long-Term Profitability. Businesses that treat their employees well, and instill a sense of shared purpose and values through their operations, gain from increased productivity and decreased turnover.

Value for customers is created both through the quality of products and services and their favorable social and environmental characteristics. For large segments of the marketplace, including the estimated 50 million "cultural creatives" in the United States alone, purchasing choices strongly reflect personal values.

A Green Business is transparent in its operations, providing accurate reporting of social and environmental impacts and benefits. It also tithes back to its community, enhancing its livability. Over time, this generates trust in the community and a good working relationship with governmental entities. This kind of trust is invaluable in gaining neighborhood support and securing permits for new projects.

Increasingly, products and services are evaluated on a lifecycle basis. Thus, entire supply chains are coming under scrutiny. Green Procurement strategies connect businesses with suppliers and vendors that share their values. For instance, a socially responsible furniture company like The Joinery in Portland, Oregon also offers environmental benefits by sourcing sustainably produced wood products.

Locally-owned businesses make a strong contribution to Local Economies by keeping dollars circulating locally. They build Community through face-to-face relationships, whether food from the farmer's market, fish from the local pier, or wood from the surrounding forests. Ultimately, they are accountable to particular people and places, providing them with a loyal customer base.

Embed community benefit as a core business strategy with a variety of returns including employee productivity, customer loyalty, community support, supply chain integrity, and accountability to place.

Examples of this pattern in action:

Business for Social Responsibility
Since 1992, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) has helped companies of all sizes and sectors to achieve business objectives and efficiencies in ways that demonstrate respect for ethical values, people, communities, and the environment. A leading global business partner, BSR equips its member companies with the expertise to design, implement and evaluate successful, socially responsible business policies, practices and processes. BSR provides tools, training, advisory services and collaborative opportunities in person, in print and online that equip companies to implement socially responsible business practices that serve business goals. Today, more than 1,400 member and affiliated companies worldwide participate BSR's global network of programs and partnerships.

Organizations whose work incorporate this pattern:

Progressive Asset Management



Ekins, Paul, ed. The Living Economy: A New Economics in the Making. Routledge. New York, NY. 1986.

Elkington, John. Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business. New Society Publishers. Gabriola Island, BC. 1998.

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Pattern Index

A Conservation Economy

Social Capital

Fundamental Needs

Subsistence Rights

Shelter For All


Access To Knowledge


Social Equity


Cultural Diversity

Cultural Preservation

Sense Of Place

Beauty And Play

Just Transitions

Civic Society

Natural Capital

Ecological Land-Use

Connected Wildlands

Core Reserves

Wildlife Corridors

Buffer Zones

Productive Rural Areas

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable Forestry

Sustainable Fisheries


Compact Towns And Cities

Human-Scale Neighborhoods

Green Building

Transit Access

Ecological Infrastructure

Urban Growth Boundaries

Ecosystem Services

Watershed Services

Soil Services

Climate Services


Economic Capital

Household Economies

Green Business

Long-Term Profitability

Community Benefit

Green Procurement

Renewable Energy

Sustainable Materials Cycles

Resource Efficiency

Waste As Resource

Product As Service

Local Economies

Value-Added Production

Rural-Urban Linkages

Local Assets

Bioregional Economies

Fair Trade

True Cost Pricing

Product Labeling