[IMGCAP(1)]My Art of Accounting columns are autobiographical and some tell about things that happened decades ago—although they’re still relevant—and hopefully there are takeaways you can benefit from. Today’s column is about something just starting to happen and presents an opportunity for you to get in on the ground floor of what could become a hot area for additional revenues. The overall topic has various names, two of which are sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

We all know something about the deteriorating environment, greenhouse gases and global warming. However if you are like me, you really don’t know squat about it. About a year ago I was introduced to this area of potential business from two sources pretty simultaneously. Chris Frederiksen sent me a gift of a book about the history of accounting by Jane Gleeson-White. Half the book was about the measurement issues of sustainability and how accountants could be the main people performing these services. I also heard her deliver a speech in which she presented her suggestions. Soon after that I had lunch with Stanley Goldstein, who also raised the future potential of accountants getting involved in this new area.

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