Natural Capital Central Strategies – as Applied in the Playbook!


On pages 10-11 of Natural Capitalism the four central strategies of Natural Capitalism are introduced and explained. Then, in The Green to Gold Playbook there are numerous examples of how these strategies are applied by businesses and leading corporations.  In the Playbook, the strategies are not specifically identified but the application of them is clear from the examples. Here is an example:  When a company finds ways to cut its energy use, it is applying the strategy of “Radical Resource Productivity,” i.e., the company is squeezing out more energy while consuming the same amount or less fuel.  The assignment is for you to search though the examples in the Playbook and find those that illustrate the application of these four strategies.

You must find and explain one example of the application for each of the four strategies.  Write up the four examples in the form of a formal essay.  You will have all semester to complete and submit this essay.

Suggested Approach

First study the four strategies in Natural Capitalism.  Then, as you read the Playbook, look for examples of how companies are applying these strategies.  This will help you deepen your understanding of the four strategies and how they can help companies cut costs and/or increase profits.  In many cases individuals and families, in addition to firms, can apply the strategies to save money and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.


1.  Go to pp. 10 & 11 of Natural Capitalism and carefully study the four central strategies of Natural Capitalism found there.  Continue your study of these four strategies by carefully reading the rest of the chapter which provides an in depth explanation of each strategy.

2.  From your reading of The Green to Gold Business Playbook, identify examples that illustrate the

application of each of the four strategies.  This will not be easy!  None of the examples are specifically identified as illustrations of these four strategies.  Your challenge is to identify the examples that correspond to the strategies.  As you read the assigned chapters in the Playbook, be alert to examples that “fit” the strategies.  Expect to read most of the Playbook to find the examples you are looking for.  You have all semester to find the examples and write your essay explaining them.  Take notes as you read each of the required chapters and list examples that “fit” the strategies.  When you are satisfied that you have found an example of each of the four strategies, you are ready to begin writing your essay.

3.  Your essay should list and explain one example for each of the strategies.  For each of the

examples your essay must include the following information.  (See sample answers below.)

a.  The strategy that is illustrated by the example

b.  The page in the Playbook where the example is found.

c.  The name of the company or organization that implemented the strategy. d.  An explanation of how the example illustrates the strategy.

4.  Your essay must be written in clear, grammatically correct English. It is a formal essay, that is, no texting shortcuts are allowed!  See syllabus for instructions and regulation that apply to all BBA written assignments and tests.

5.  Submit your essay in BbLearn in the submission box for this assignment.

6.  Your essay is due in Block 7 at the end of the semester.  See course schedule for the specific due date.

An Example Essay

On page 151 of the Playbook there is an example that illustrates the strategy of radical resource productivity (rrp).   “The Hilton Hotel in Houston, Texas, reduced carbon emissions by 260 metric tons by using a water recycling system for its laundry facility.  The AquaRecycle system reuses water to help the laundry maintain its ideal operating temperature, reducing use of natural gas for heating, and cutting water usage from 630,000 gallons to 157,000 gallons, a 74 percent decrease.”  The hotel is getting much greater productivity from a smaller amount of water than they used before the introduction of the AquaRecycle system. In addition, a smaller amount of the fuel, natural gas, is being used to achieve the same outcome.  Thus, the productivity of the gas used is also increased.

The Sto Corp employed biomimicry* to produce Lotusan paint as explained on p. 190 of the Playbook.  Examining the surface of the lotus flower, Sto Corp engineers discovered the surface of its leaves is covered in tiny peaks and valleys that cause water to pearl and roll off along with any dirt is captures.  “Sto Corp has managed to replicate the surface microstructure of the lotus leaf in paint.”  Paint a building with this Lotusan paint and it never needs to be washed! Rainwater washes it clean!  This is a product that mimics nature!  It is water-based and contains minimal volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  This is an excellent example of the strategy of biomimicry!

The strategy of the “service and flow economy” is exemplified in the simple case “” on p. 137 of the Playbook.  Boxes are essential when moving and/or temporarily storing things.  But when the move is over or storage is no longer needed, boxes most often become waste. offers an alternative – rent the boxes!   “ . . . (C)ompanies can avoid buying boxes they need only temporarily. . . .”  The strategy of the service and flow economy is based on the fact that in many instances the consumer or customer does not need the “hardware” but rather the service that the hardware provides.  A very familiar example is a laundromat.  There are many examples of the service and flow economy throughout the Playbook.

Investing in Natural Capital – This is what Home Depot did when it was attacked by Forest Ethics, an NGO that sought to stop Home Depot from sourcing lumber from old growth forests.

It “moved quickly to find suppliers that could provide sustainably sourced wood”  (see Playbook, p. 205).  By investing in this effort, Home Depot “transformed the market for lumber,” and helped to preserve a precious component of natural capital – the old growth forests.  This is an example of how rigorously selecting suppliers that obtain their product from sustainable sources, often responding to guidelines established by certification organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council (in the case of lumber).  In short, investing time, money, and effort to preserve and/or produce a resource that is scarce or threatened is investing in natural capital.

Works Cited

Make sure you list the works cited in your essay!

*Biomimcry isn’t as difficult to understand as it may sound.  “Bio is from the Greek for “life” so “bio – mimicry” is “mimicking” life.  Think about Velcro.  Did you ever walk through weeds in a field and come out full of stickers (or burrs)?  Those burrs gave the idea for Velcro – tiny barbs that stick to everything.  Velcro simply mimics the structure of the burrs.  For more examples of biomimicry, see the link on the BbL Home page of this course.

Note: This explanation is not part of the example essay.