As public awareness increases about global climate change and the importance of energy conservation, large corporations, as well as local mom and pop enterprises, are striving to conduct business in a way that is planet friendly and wins over consumers.
An MBA program to do just that was launched at New College of California in Santa Rosa in 2000 and then earlier this year shifted its entire program to Dominican University in San Rafael.
Graduates of the Green MBA have started a Web site development company for green businesses, oversee production of olive oil soap and manage a firm selling green office supplies.
One grad, a former Agilent engineer, is consulting with local agricultural firms such as Clover Stornetta dairy and Petaluma Poultry Processors about how to reduce water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage.
Program Director John Stayton said the two-year Green MBA program, with its degree in sustainable enterprise, is attempting to keep pace with demand by increasing the number of student slots, even as competition for admissions is getting tougher.
There are currently 80 students in the program, which started at New College as a master's degree in environmental entrepreneurship.
"We're at the leading edge and want to stay that way," said Stayton, who owns a large fruit orchard near Windsor.
Stayton, 48, who moved to Sonoma County in 1991, has done high-tech industrial marketing in Silicon Valley and from his home in Sebastopol.
He had a personal interest in how to live more sustainably and was learning about alternative fuel vehicles, alternative building and solar energy.
"I reached a personal crisis and had to align my work with my values," Stayton said.