In today’s rocky environment — thanks to a double-whammy of climate change and political upheaval — businesses without a blueprint for sustainability are going under water faster than Miami’s coastline. Consumers and stakeholders are putting the heat on industry leaders to be more transparent about environmental accountability. To stay afloat, many businesses are turning to green experts to help craft new ways of putting people and the planet first.

“It’s evolve or perish — that’s where we are now,” says Izabel Loinaz, Program Director at the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. For two years in a row, the Princeton Review has ranked UO the best Green MBA program in the country. “Businesses have got to have resilience baked in because the whole ecosystem is incredibly rapidly moving,” Loinaz says.

UO students learn how businesses can adopt new practices to lighten their environmental footprints and have a net positive impact on the world. One way sustainability can become second nature in Big Business: taking a green approach to operations management, like The Footprint Chronicles at Patagonia, which strives to be transparent about the company’s supply chain. Another option: studying and making changes based on the life cycles of products and services, like reducing greenhouse gases across the process of making and distributing cars. Industry leaders are certainly taking note: UO graduates have worked with global powerhouses like Columbia Sportswear, Hewlett-Packard, and Nike in recent years.

Industries are increasingly on the hunt for experts with serious business and sustainability chops, Loinaz says. Experts who can craft new design blueprints — like making small tweaks to fabrics in the apparel industry to adapt to warming seasons — but who also have a clever eye for spotting new market opportunities are in high demand.

“Sustainable strategy is just that — it’s a strategy. It’s not a function, it’s not an industry, it’s not just recycling. That’s a very, very small piece of a much bigger movement for business,”…