Microsoft elevates environmental focus with enhanced ESG capabilities


Microsoft has introduced a comprehensive set of enhancements to its sustainability platform, the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability.

These upgrades are aimed at aiding businesses in adhering to evolving ESG reporting norms, calculating Scope 3 emissions, and gathering and managing a plethora of ESG data across various categories and data sources.

The launch of these features is a proactive response to the increasing global emphasis on ESG practices and metrics. Microsoft is seeking to equip companies with the necessary tools and software to efficiently track, record, and report their ESG commitments and progress.

Known for its wide range of software products and services including Windows operating system, Office Suite, Azure cloud computing, and more, Microsoft has a strong track record of providing solutions that address business needs. Its Cloud for Sustainability platform, unveiled in 2021, has been a testament to this ethos, offering a suite of Software as a Service (SaaS) tools that help businesses record, report, reduce, and replace their emissions.

The Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability’s new features revolve around facilitating ESG-related reporting and auditing. They include the provision of a new Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive (CSRD) template to support organisations in collecting data for European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS). Moreover, Microsoft is planning to launch prebuilt reporting templates for other ESG regulations and standards as they emerge. It is also integrating features that allow tracking progress against Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) designations.

Another key development is the initiation of Project ESG Lake, set to preview from July 2023. This is a novel industry data platform that permits organisations to compile and standardise ESG data from numerous sources and create a “centralised ESG estate”. It includes over 400 tables covering categories such as carbon, water, waste, social, governance, biodiversity, and general business areas.

Satish Thomas, corporate vice president, Microsoft Industry Clouds, shared some insights about these developments. He said, “Our initial release of the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability data model focused on the pressing need to address carbon emissions. We’ve since expanded the data model to include water and waste. These data models centralise data to help streamline data ingestion, sharing, calculations, and reporting. This includes data from across the enterprise—enterprise resource planning (ERP) data, plant data, the Internet of Things (IoT) sensor data, telemetry at the edge—and, from external sources, too—including suppliers, utility companies, transportation, and more.”

Microsoft also unveiled enhancements to its platform’s emissions calculation capabilities, covering all 15 categories of Scope 3 emissions. Additional features unveiled include waste and water data capabilities, and a service for carbon credits to enhance tracking, transparency, and the quantity and quality of credits.

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