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In this third annual edition of the State of Green Business report, Green Biz continue its efforts to measure the environmental impacts of the emerging green economy. This year’s effort was colored by the Great Recession and its myriad of impacts on individuals, companies and governments around the world. Would the economic downturn nip the green economy in the bud?

The answers aren’t simple, and therein lies the foundation for this report. As in previous years, it shows a mixed bag of encouraging and discouraging news and trends.

On balance, however, “we were pleasantly surprised by what they found”, Greener World Media Executive Director Joel Makower said. First and foremost, green business activity did not go away amid the harsh economic environment. It survived — and even thrived. In some cases, such as with energy efficiency, the recession provided a stimulus, as the need to cut operating costs in order to maintain competitiveness became ever more valued by executives, their boards and their shareholders.

As in previous years, the report tries to provide context to the robust green business taking place and to help answer the question: Is all of this activity actually moving the needle? That is, did all of the hundreds of environmental announcements and achievements by companies during 2009 actually result in their doing better, environmentally speaking, than the year before?

Clues to the answers can be found in the annual GreenBiz Index, in which they look at 20 measures of green-economy progress, from energy use to e-waste to employee commuting habits. In many cases, progress is evident, though not necessarily at the scale and speed needed to effectively address climate change, water shortages, resource scarcity and the toxicity of consumer products, among other pressing issues.

How will all this play out as the recession ebbs and the economy rumbles back to life? Will newfound efficiencies and sensibilities fall by the wayside, or have things indelibly changed?

You can check out the full report here.

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