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Sustainability Research Guide

SUSTAINABILITY In the corporate world, sustainability can be defined within the context of meeting the triple bottom line: ensuring that today, the needs of people, the balance of the planet and a strong economy are met without compromising those same needs of future generations.

Print Sources

Below are some subject headings that will bring materials on sustainability:



Online Databases

General Databases:

  • Academic Search Complete: Academic, news, popular, and trade publications covering all topics from 1975 - present.
  • Article First: General subject database with 12,000+ publications covering all topics. 1990 -present.
  • CQ Researcher: Congressional Quarterly publishes 44 reports a year on single topics covering them in depth.
  • ECO: A collection of scholarly journals covering all topics.1995 to present.
  • Expanded Academic ASAP: Academic, news, popular, and trade publications covering all topics from 1980 - present.
  • GreenFILE: Focuses on the relationship between human beings and the environment, global warming, recycling, alternate fuel & beyond. 
  • SIRS Researcher: Contains thousands of full-text articles exploring social, scientific, health, historic, business, economic, political and global issues.

Health and Biological Sciences Databases

  • CINAHL Fulltext (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature):  More complete coverage nursing, allied health and health sciences journals from 1982 - present.
  • Health Source: Consumer Edition: Full text for 180+ health periodicals, 1100+ health pamphlets, and 20 health reference books, including Stedmans Medical Dictionary.
  • Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition: Nearly 580 scholarly full-text, health and medical journals and 600+ abstracted and indexed journals. Some journals are covered 1966-present.
  • MEDLINE: Created by the National Library of Medicine. Includes clinical medicine, nutrition, dentistry, pathology, education, psychiatry, experimental, medicine, toxicology, health services, administration, veterinary, medicine, and nursing. 1966 to present.

Military and Government Database

News Databases

  • Chicago Tribune: Include international, national, Chicago regional and local news.
  • New York Times: Full-text articles from the newspaper. Community events, schools, politics, government policies, cultural activities, local companies, state industries, and people in the community. Paid advertisements are excluded.
  • Newspaper Source: Coverage from 174 newspapers and sources, including broadcasts of news programs such as Face the Nation, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, 60 Minutes, O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, CNN, and CNBC.

Web Resources

Government Sites

Sustainability Organizations





  • Chicago Sustainability Business Alliance: A program of Foresight Design Initiative this organization supports members in integrating sustainable business principles to generate a more profitable, environmentally respectful, and socially responsible Chicago economy. Provides links  to sustainable academic programsrestaurantsmedia outletsNew Economics Institute: Independent think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being. Aims to improve quality of life by promoting innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environment and social issues.
  • Holistic Management International: Non profit seeking to restore deteriorating landscapes and the lives of the people dependent on them using practical, low-cost solutions.


  • Audubon Chicago Region: Audubon Chicago Region strives to support a culture of conservation through the active involvement of citizens in ecological restoration, biological monitoring and advocacy for nature.
  • Chicago Conservation Corps: The mission of the Chicago Conservation Corp (C3) is to recruit, train and support a network of volunteers who work together to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods through environmental service projects that protect our water, clean our air, restore our land and conserve energy.
  • Clean Air Counts: Clean Air Counts is a northeastern Illinois regional initiative to reduce ozone-causing emissions, thereby improving air quality and enabling economic development.
  • Ecovillage Network of the Americas: North and South Americans join global effort to create a sustainable future.
  • Global Ecovillage Network:  Works toward global exchange of technology, culture, and education to foster sustainable future: directories and newsletters available.
  • Illinois Environmental Council: 30 year old-statewide organization that educates and empowers organizations and individuals to increase participation on environmental issues.
  • Local First Chicago: Local First Chicago is a network of locally owned, independent businesses and friends joined together to keep money and character in our neighborhoods by supporting local businesses.
  • Resource Center: The Resource Center, a non-profit environmental education organization, has led the way in demonstrating innovative techniques for recycling and reusing materials.
  • Safer Pest Control Project: Dedicated to protecting children and their families from the serious health consequences of pesticides, by reducing pesticide use and promoting safe, effective alternatives.
  • SCARCE Environmental Education Center: Through education, the SCARCE team inspires others to preserve and care for the earth's natural resources, bringing awareness to the importance of building sustainable communities.
  • Sierra Club - Illinois Chapter: Goals are to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives
  • Southeast Environmental Taskforce: Serves the Southeast Side and south suburbs of Chicago by promoting environmental education, pollution prevention, and sustainable development.
  • Smart Communities Network: Promotes green buildings and development through an efficient use of energy, land and money.


  • American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy: Assesses energy efficiency with an eye toward responsible public policy and work with the private sector and public interest non-profits.
  • Center for Neighborhood Technology : Works to show how urban communities in Chicago and across the country can develop more sustainably.
  • Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology: Accelerates the use of renewable energy by providing credible information, insightful policy analysis, and innovative strategies amid changing energy markets and mounting environmental needs by researching, publishing, and disseminating information, creating policy tools, and hosting highly active, on-line, renewable energy discussion groups.
  • Chicago Center for Green Technology:  Promotes and advances sustainable homes, workplaces, and communities to enhance the quality of urban life through education and training, research and demonstration, and acting as a resource network.
  • Chicagoland Bicycle Federation: The nonprofit Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has worked for more than 20 years to engage people in bicycling, encourage activity, increase safety, and design a world-class bicycle federation.
  • Consumer Report: Greener Choices: Information on the environmental impact of various consumer products and tips on improving your own usage. Also includes information on recycling, labeling, and rebates for efficient products. Currently features a comparison of alternative fuels, and ways to save money on gas.
  • Illinois Solar Energy Association: The ISEA is the Illinois chapter of the American Solar Enery Society (ASES) that seeks to provide energy education to the Illinois public and promote the widespread application of solar, renewable and sustainable energy methods and technologies.
  • Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance: A collaborative network of organizations working to advance energy efficiency in the Midwest.

Education/Think Tanks 

  • Environmental Law Institute: Provides information services, advice, publications, training courses, seminars, research programs and policy recommendations to engage and empower environmental leaders the world over. ELI’s audience is leading environmental professionals in government, industry, public interest groups and academia.
  • Permaculture Activist: Offers a current listing of upcoming permaculture design courses and a networking directory linking students to teachers and information, homeowners to designers and consultants, and homeseekers to community.
  • Permaculture International Ltd.: A directory of permaculture design courses offered around the world.
  • Regenerative Design Institute: Non profit educational organization providing courses and workshops designed to effectively teach the skills necessary to live a more sustainable life on the planet. RDI has evolved out of the Permaculture Institute of Northern California (PINC) which continues to be a key project.
  • Sustainability Institute: Vermont-based think tank focused on understanding the root causes of unsustainable behavior in complex systems.  Staff includes biologists, writers, social scientists, system dynamics modelers, and facilitators who aim to help restructure systems and shift mindsets that will help move human society toward sustainability.


  • Earth Markets: Earth Markets are farmers' markets that have been established according to guidelines that follow the Slow Food philosophy. These community-run markets are important social meeting points, where local producers offer healthy, quality food directly to consumers at fair prices and guarantee environmentally sustainable methods. In addition, they preserve the food culture of the local community and contribute to defending biodiversity.
  • Ethics in Food and Agriculture: Major changes in the fields of food and agriculture in recent years, including accelerating technological development, changes in the resource base, and economic and market developments, have brought to the fore a variety of ethical questions of relevance to food security and sustainable rural development.
  • Food Ethics Council: The Food Ethics Council is a charity that provides independent advice on the ethics of food and farming. Our aim is to create a food system that is fair and healthy for people and the environment
  • Local Harvest: Find local, sustainably grown food through farmers’ markets and local farms.
  • Slow Food International:  Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment. A non-profit member-supported association, Slow Food was founded in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.
  • Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity: The Slow Food Foundation is funded through the efforts of the Slow Food movement, by institutions, private companies, other Foundations and anyone interested in supporting projects defending biodiversity. While it supports projects around the world, its most significant commitment is focused on developing countries, where defending biodiversity not only means improving people’s quality of life, but can mean guaranteeing life itself.
  • Sustainable Table: Sustainable Table was created in 2003 by the nonprofit organization GRACE to help consumers understand the problems with our food supply and offer viable solutions and alternatives. Rather than be overwhelmed by the problems created by our industrial agricultural system, Sustainable Table celebrates the joy of food and eating.


  • Center for Clean Air Policy: Independent non profit entity recognized as a world leader in air quality and climate policy since 1985. Seeks to promote and implement innovative solutions to major environmental and energy problems which balance both environmental and economic interests.
  • Heifer International: Building self reliant communities in developing countries by distributing resources fairly, improving access to education, and preserving the environment.
  • International Research Development Centre: Collaborates with researchers from the developing world to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies.
  • Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI): An international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations who have made a commitment to sustainable development that provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level.
  • UN Division for Sustainable Development:  The Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) provides leadership and is an authoritative source of expertise within the United Nations system on sustainable development. It promotes sustainable development as the substantive secretariat to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and through technical cooperation and capacity building at international, regional and national levels. The context for the Division's work is the implementation of Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.
  • World Bank Environmental Data: Provides data on major economic and environmental indicators for nations across the globe.
  • World Resources Institute: Think tank provides objective information and practical proposals for policy and institutional change for environmentally sound, socially equitable development.
  • Worldwatch Institute: Gateway for interdisciplinary research, global focus, and accessible writing on interactions among key environmental, social, and economic trends. Their work revolves around the transition to an environmentally sustainable and socially just society—and how to achieve it.


  • Friends of the Parks: A 501(c)(3) designated park advocacy organization, dedicated to preserving, protecting, and improving Chicago's parks and forest preserves for all citizens.
  • The Land Connection: The Land Connection is a nonprofit working to ensure healthy farms, healthy food, and healthy communities. The Land Connection saves farmland, trains farmers in entrepreneurial farming, connects local producers and consumers, and helps educate farmers and the public on the many benefits of growing and eating local organic foods. http://www.thelandconnection.org
  • North Branch Restoration Project: An all volunteer group engaged in restoration of natural areas along the North Branch of the Chicago River, primarily in the Cook County Forest Preserves bordering the river.
  • Openlands: Founded in 1963, Openlands is a non-profit conservation organization that protects, expands and enhances public open space – both land and water – to provide a healthy natural environment and a more livable place for all people of the greater Chicago region.
  • The Trust for Public Land: Chicago Office: Conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.