The American Institute of CPAs has launched a competition for college students to improve the sustainability practices in businesses.

Students pursuing either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree can participate by submitting a plan to make the practices of a North Carolina luxury hotel align better with the principles of sustainability.

“The competition is an opportunity for students to gain experience working with a client,” said AICPA vice president for students, academics and membership Jeannie Patton in a statement. “We chose sustainability as the theme because more companies around the world are linking their performance with the economic, environmental and social costs of doing business. The next generation of CPAs will need the skills to understand how sustainability impacts financial reporting.”

Students participating in the competition must work in teams of four, each of which must include at least two accounting majors. One of the accounting majors must serve as team leader. There will be three finalist teams that will receive a cash award. The team placing first will receive $10,000; the second-place team, $5,000; and the third-place team, $2,500. Proposals are due Oct.15.

The AICPA is hosting the competition on the new website ThisWaytoCPA.com, which helps college students and candidates for the CPA exam investigate the variety of accounting careers (see AICPA Entices College Students to Become CPAs). ThisWaytoCPA.com is a companion to the AICPA’s popular StartHereGoPlaces.com, which educates high school students about accounting careers. Since its 2001 launch, StartHereGoPlaces.com has gained users in all 50 states and 180 countries.

The Institute for Sustainable Development, a North Carolina Research Triangle-based organization, is a partner with the AICPA in the competition. In 2009, AICPA was named a Green Plus Mover by the Institute of Sustainable Development in recognition of its sustainability efforts. Additionally, The Umstead Hotel & Spa, the North Carolina luxury hotel which the contest is based upon, is a Green Plus Certified business.

The AICPA is a member of The Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability Project, which works with accounting bodies, businesses, investors and others to develop guidance for integrating sustainability into decision-making and reporting. In 2009, the Prince delivered a videotaped message on sustainability to the institute’s governing council.

For more information, or to register for the competition, visit www.thiswaytocpa.com.

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