Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 1113–1118 | Cite as

The need to adapt sustainability audits to atypical business models

  • Eva Chancé
  • Sybil Derrible
  • Weslynne S. Ashton
Brief Report


While a growing number of businesses aspire toward sustainability, doing so requires new business models that aim to achieve triple bottom line benefits (economic, environmental, and social), while utilizing appropriate technologies and new knowledge platforms for doing business. “Third Places,” defined as places of public gathering outside of work or home, have emerged as powerful platforms for business model innovation, in the form of incubators, co-working spaces, and innovation hubs. Third Places enable a diverse group of actors, including entrepreneurs, employees, and investors to informally interact and develop innovative ways of doing business. Third Places tend to be structurally more complex than traditional production facilities as they have multiple firms interacting in formal and informal ways. In this commentary, we discuss the challenges of measuring the sustainability performance of Third Places using conventional sustainability audit tools.



This study was partially funded by the GloFoodS meta-program. The authors would like to thank everyone who has been taking part of the auditing process at The Plant, including Jonathan Pereira and the staff at Plant Chicago. We would also like to thank Julia Norberto who interned in the Complex and Sustainable Urban Networks (CSUN) Lab in summer 2016. We were thrilled to be part of The Plant, taking part into that great adventure to more sustainable businesses practices and a better society. This research was also partly supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award #155173.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agropolymers Engineering and Emerging Technologies Research UnitFrench National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)MontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Complex and Sustainable Urban Networks (CSUN) Lab, Department of Civil and Materials EngineeringUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Stuart School of BusinessIllinois Institute of TechnologyChicagoUSA

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