8 top ESG reporting frameworks explained and compared environmental, social and governance (ESG)

18 sustainability management software providers to consider

Various software tools are available to help manage ESG and sustainability initiatives. Here's a look at 18 sustainability management vendors and their products.

Sustainability management software helps enterprises set up a process for tracking metrics related to their environmental, social and governance goals. It can also help companies meet ESG reporting requirements and communicate with investors, customers and other stakeholders about ESG issues. It's a broad field with various tools available to solve individual pieces or bring data together across many elements of ESG and sustainability initiatives.

Adopting new software is only part of managing such initiatives. "Sustainability is a big topic with many different flavors," said Marsha Reppy, sustainability technology consulting leader at EY Americas. That includes carbon footprints, circular economy strategies, operational ESG processes, socioeconomic equity and more. Reppy recommended that companies start by clearly defining the sustainability problems they're trying to solve, then architect a comprehensive approach. But sustainability management tools can play a key role in carrying out that plan.

Key features in sustainability management software

These tools offer a variety of features. For example, ESG materiality assessment capabilities help prioritize the most relevant issues for an organization or individual business units. Carbon accounting capabilities help measure greenhouse gas emissions based on the scope 1, 2 and 3 categories defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. There's usually support for relevant ESG reporting frameworks, such as CDP, the GRI Standards, the SASB Standards and the TCFD recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

In a report on sustainability management software published in February 2022, Forrester Research listed the following product features among the criteria used to assess the tools it evaluated:

  • Support for materiality assessments.
  • Carbon calculation and accounting.
  • Data management functionality.
  • Performance monitoring, benchmarking and auditing.
  • Sustainability reporting and risk disclosure.
  • Climate action strategy development and tracking.
  • Sustainability intelligence dashboards.

Rita N. Soni, principal analyst for impact sourcing and sustainability research at Everest Group, said some sustainability management platforms also use technologies such as AI and machine learning to track, monitor and report on ESG metrics. That helps companies keep data at the center of their decision-making processes. But she cautioned that organizations should define their sustainability KPIs before choosing a tool to make sure they get the right functionality and don't end up with unneeded features.

Here, listed in alphabetical order, are 18 prominent vendors of ESG and sustainability management software and information on the tools they offer.

1. Benchmark Digital Partners

Commonly known as Benchmark Digital, this company started in 1997 as a team at General Electric that developed environment, health and safety (EHS) compliance monitoring applications for internal use by GE. It was spun off as a separate company called Gensuite in 2010, then changed its named to Benchmark Digital Partners in 2021. At that time, the Gensuite software was rebranded as Benchmark ESG, but the cloud-based platform was rebranded again in 2023 and is now called Benchmark Gensuite.

Benchmark Digital's roots in EHS technology and consulting gave it a leg up on compliance-side data capture and reporting. But in response to the increased demand for ESG functionality, the company has expanded its platform over the years to support a broad range of sustainability and ESG management capabilities. That includes sustainability tracking and program management for setting sustainability strategies and capturing data on emissions, energy and water usage and other environmental factors, as well as ESG reporting, data management and analytics features.

The Benchmark Gensuite software also provides the following features:

  • Collaboration tools to help different teams meet ESG, sustainability and EHS goals.
  • Operational risk management functions to improve visibility into potential business risks and help mitigate them.
  • AI advisory capabilities that can spot patterns and make recommendations based on EHS and ESG data.

2. Diligent

Diligent, which is primarily known as a vendor of governance, risk and compliance (GRC) software, acquired a company named Accuvio in 2021 to add sustainability and ESG reporting tools. Its Diligent ESG software can be used to collect and aggregate data on scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions for carbon accounting as part of corporate sustainability efforts. The software supports various ESG reporting frameworks and helps users generate audit-ready reports, providing features that include built-in change logs and automated data anomaly and completeness checks.

The company also offers online ESG and climate leadership certification programs to train board members and corporate executives on emerging standards, requirements and best practices for managing ESG issues and climate risks. In addition, Diligent sells a board diversity software tool designed to help companies recruit a more inclusive board of directors, with additional features for benchmarking against other companies on board diversity and evaluating the board's performance.

The following are some of the specific sustainability reporting features that Diligent ESG provides:

  • More than 80 preconfigured reports, plus the ability to create custom ones.
  • Access to more than 70,000 emissions factors across 120-plus countries.
  • Nine data capture methods, along with built-in APIs for connections to different data sources.

3. Ecometrica

Ecometrica was founded in 2008 to help businesses and governments calculate the climate impact of their operations. Since then, it has developed a suite of tools for measuring greenhouse gas emissions, reporting on emissions and climate risks, and monitoring deforestation risks in supply chains. The company's namesake software calculates scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions against a database of more than 150,000 emissions factors and automatically translates raw data into common formats for reporting and regulatory compliance, including TCFD and CDP.

Ecometrica also provides a service to help companies create an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for a base year against which future progress on reducing carbon footprints can be compared. In addition, the vendor offers APIs that simplify integration of its software with enterprise CRM, ERP and manufacturing execution system applications. Its deforestation risk monitoring tool uses satellite data to track farming of key commodity crops and other supply chain and sourcing operations.

The Ecometrica platform also includes these features:

  • Georeferenced emissions tracking to help organizations compare progress on reductions in various locations.
  • Automated data integrity checks to help identify and address data quality issues.
  • A full audit trail to provide transparency back to the source on all emissions data and on the assumptions used in calculations.

4. FigBytes

Founded in 2014, FigBytes has built an integrated SaaS platform for managing ESG and sustainability programs. The FigBytes platform combines modules for ESG strategy management, data management, analytics and reporting, and stakeholder engagement. Because these capabilities were created from the beginning to work together, companies can manage, track and report on all of their ESG and sustainability goals in parallel, according to FigBytes.

The platform includes various tools for climate accounting, water stewardship, philanthropy management, supply chain transparency and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). On the climate accounting side, the software can be used to create a baseline greenhouse gas emissions inventory, benchmark carbon footprints across business operations and run analytics to identify optimal strategies for reducing emissions. The water stewardship tools help users assess water risks and analyze the impact of water usage on local communities and watersheds.

Other notable features in the Figbytes platform include the following:

  • DEI analytics tools that connect to popular HR software systems.
  • The ability to track energy, carbon and environmental impacts at the activity and asset level.
  • Reporting software that automatically connects internal KPIs and data to various ESG frameworks.

5. IBM

IBM is working to combine two separate tools for mitigating environmental risks and reporting on the environmental impact of business operations. IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite is designed to help companies reduce business disruptions caused by severe weather and climate change. The SaaS application monitors environmental conditions and alerts users when it detects problematic weather, wildfires and other disruptive events. It also uses weather data and AI technology to predict potential business impacts and provide near-real-time analytics to help guide mitigation and response plans.

In addition, IBM acquired sustainability management software vendor Envizi in 2022 to build up its capabilities for capturing, tracking and reporting ESG data on emissions and energy usage. The rebranded IBM Envizi ESG Suite software is optimized for calculating emissions as well as setting and monitoring progress on carbon-reduction goals. It supports all of the major ESG reporting frameworks and can be used to manage ESG and sustainability initiatives as a whole, including social elements such as corporate social responsibility programs and community investments.

The following are some of the other features included in the two IBM products:

  • Automated collection and consolidation of more than 500 data types from various sources in the IBM Envizi software.
  • Direct integration of IBM Envizi with the company's enterprise asset management, facility management and application resource management tools.
  • APIs built into IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite for accessing data sets on weather forecasts and historical weather events.

6. IFS

Enterprise applications vendor IFS added an ESG and sustainability module to its IFS Cloud platform in 2021. IFS Cloud Sustainability Hub is a Microsoft Teams application primarily focused on tracking greenhouse gas emissions and managing carbon footprints. The software helps companies extract data from different sources and assess their performance on scope 1 and 2 emissions. It can also be used to track indirect emissions covered under scope 3 to measure a company's overall carbon footprint.

In addition, IFS has built ESG-related features into other IFS Cloud modules. For example, users of its planning and scheduling optimization module can record data on the use of company-owned vehicles and related environmental costs to compare the performance of different vehicle types. The software can also generate reports on the performance data. Meanwhile, the vendor's service management module includes functionality designed to reduce waste by enabling field service technicians to better manage the return of unused spare parts.

Other features provided by IFS Cloud Sustainability Hub include the following:

  • A form-based method of assigning tasks and collecting ESG data, with the option of using prebuilt templates or creating custom forms.
  • A mobile app that employees can use to view assigned tasks and then compile and submit the requested data.
  • The ability to add notes and photos to the form before submitting the data.

7. Metrio

Founded in 2009 and acquired by Nasdaq in 2022, Metrio offers sustainability software that focuses on ESG analytics and reporting. Metrio's SaaS platform includes tools for automated data collection, ESG performance monitoring, data analysis, collaboration and communication with customers, business partners, investors, employees and other stakeholders. It can be used to create interactive online reports that are personalized for different recipients, as well as standardized reports for broader audiences.

Metrio also offers materiality assessment capabilities to help companies identify critical ESG factors for both their business operations and stakeholders, and it enables users to tailor their ESG metrics by creating custom KPIs and calculations. Raw data can be transformed into different formats using frameworks such as GRI, CDP and SASB. Nasdaq acquired Metrio as part of a plan to build out a broad suite of ESG tools and services, which also includes Nasdaq OneReport software for ESG disclosures, the Puro.earth marketplace for trading carbon credits, ESG advisory services and other offerings.

The Metrio software also provides the following features:

  • The ability to create a dedicated sustainability website to share ESG goals and performance data.
  • Automated generation of an audit trail on all source data and the assumptions that go into each ESG metric.
  • Support for measuring and demonstrating progress toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.

8. Microsoft

Microsoft released the first version of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, a suite of ESG and sustainability tools, in 2022 after making it available as a public preview the year before. The suite aims to help companies measure carbon emissions and set and manage sustainability goals. To that end, it includes a Microsoft Sustainability Manager application that can be used to automate the collection of operational data, set up emissions calculations, streamline the reporting process and track carbon reduction targets.

The sustainability suite also includes Emissions Impact Dashboard, a Power BI tool that helps companies measure emissions related to their use of Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 cloud services. The dashboard can incorporate data on indirect scope 3 emissions at suppliers and other business partners, and Microsoft provides APIs that can be used to access emissions data from the cloud services. Also part of the suite is Environmental Credit Service, a managed service for tracking carbon credits.

In addition, Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability includes the following features:

  • Analytics capabilities for evaluating emissions reduction progress and integrating generated insights into reduction strategies.
  • A common format for emissions data and prebuilt emissions calculation models.
  • The ability to calculate emissions related to employee commutes and product end-of-life processes.

9. OneTrust

OneTrust offers a cloud-based platform with a broad set of privacy management, data governance and GRC tools designed to make corporate trust a competitive advantage for companies. The OneTrust platform also now includes ESG and Sustainability Cloud, which extends the notion of trust to include documenting a company's impact on people and the planet. Based on software developed by a company named Planetly that OneTrust acquired in 2021, ESG and Sustainability Cloud helps businesses define environmental and sustainability metrics, track their progress on ESG goals and automate reporting.

It includes two separate modules: one for managing ESG data collection, reporting and disclosures, and another for tracking the practices of suppliers to help companies build more sustainable and responsible supply chains. In addition, OneTrust offers Ethics and Compliance Cloud, a separate set of tools that can be implemented as part of ESG initiatives to help create a code of conduct for employees and manage corporate ethics policies. That product also includes third-party due diligence capabilities to help ensure that business partners align with a company's values.

Other features in ESG and Sustainability Cloud include the following:

  • Real-time dashboards for setting projections on ESG performance and tracking progress toward goals.
  • Automated population of reports for key sustainability and ESG frameworks, with the ability to map metrics back to business priorities.
  • Professional services to help companies set up and optimize sustainability programs.

10. Persefoni

Persefoni was founded in 2020 to help organizations manage carbon accounting programs focused on greenhouse gas emissions. The company bills its SaaS platform as "the ERP of climate"; more specifically, the software is designed to enable users to quickly get carbon management programs off the ground and then scale them to meet business needs. It also includes reporting capabilities to meet regulatory climate disclosure requirements and requests for disclosures from investors and other stakeholders.

The platform is designed to be easy to use. Users can answer some questions, upload their data and follow Persefoni's automated Footprint Workbook to set up processes for calculating carbon footprints. The software then applies transparent calculation methods and models to generate disclosures with full audit trails for regulators, investors, customers and supply chain partners. Users can also get deployment help from external sustainability experts who are available to advise customers through Persefoni.

The Persefoni platform also provides the following features:

  • Support for financed emissions calculations to help asset and investment managers assess the carbon footprint of investment portfolios.
  • A climate impact benchmarking add-on module that uses CDP data to enable companies to compare their carbon footprints with those of similar organizations.
  • Another add-on module that supports climate trajectory modeling to help users model net-zero emissions targets and carbon reduction goals to align with global warming scenarios.

11. SAP

SAP introduced its first sustainability management tool in 2020 and now offers a suite of cloud-based software that supports various functions. SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprises includes SAP Sustainability Control Tower, an ESG reporting tool; SAP Product Footprint Management for calculating the carbon footprint of a company's products; and SAP Responsible Design and Production, which can be used to incorporate a circular economy model into product design and manufacturing operations.

Some existing applications focused on social responsibility have also been folded into the suite, including SAP's EHS management software, the SAP Ariba Supplier Risk tool and an S/4HANA product compliance tool that supports management of regulatory and sustainability requirements. SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprises is integrated with S/4HANA, SAP's flagship ERP system, enabling a bidirectional flow of data between the two products in real time. That capability lets users incorporate ESG and sustainability data into business processes and feed data updates back into the sustainability tools.

SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprises also offers the following features:

  • A "clean operations" version of SAP Product Footprint Management for small and midsize manufacturers and product design companies.
  • Functionality for identifying potential reductions in carbon emissions that was co-developed with consulting firm BearingPoint.
  • The ability to use SAP's GreenToken blockchain-enabled digital twin technology as part of decarbonization efforts across supply chains.

12. Salesforce

Salesforce initially launched a Sustainability Cloud product in 2019 as an outgrowth of efforts to streamline its own sustainability reporting processes. It later extended the preliminary offering to run on the Salesforce Lightning Platform and rebranded the product as Net Zero Cloud to highlight the importance of addressing climate goals. Building the software on the Lightning Platform enables users to take advantage of the existing Salesforce ecosystem of rapid development tools, integrations and reporting capabilities.

Net Zero Cloud has a broad set of capabilities that can help companies conduct ESG materiality assessments, calculate greenhouse gas emissions and manage sustainability data from partners and suppliers. It also provides out-of-the-box Tableau dashboards and supports what-if analysis and emissions forecasting, management of water usage and reporting powered by Salesforce's CRM Analytics tool.

In addition, Net Zero Cloud offers the following features:

  • Integration of data from multiple sources with automated updates to data sets and an audit trail for reporting purposes.
  • Net Zero Marketplace, an integrated online exchange for buying carbon credits.
  • AI and machine learning tools to predict emissions and provide recommendations for reducing them.

13. Sinai Technologies

Founded in 2017, Sinai Technologies offers software to help companies monitor and analyze greenhouse gas emissions and calculate internal carbon prices to measure the financial impact of emissions and efforts to reduce them. Sinai's platform specializes in developing what it calls decarbonization intelligence models that aggregate emissions data from business operations and identify cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. It also enables users to collaborate across their supply chains on emissions data collection and carbon accounting.

Companies can use the Sinai software to assess the impact of certain measures, such as switching to renewable energy sources, electrifying vehicle fleets or installing better insulation in facilities. In addition, integration with the Tableau analytics platform can help organizations visualize climate-related data and expected decarbonization impacts and then share the data visualizations with investors, customers and other stakeholders.

Sinai also provides the following features:

  • Simplified data inputs for complete emissions calculations across scopes 1, 2 and 3.
  • Emissions scenarios that estimate future emissions levels based on expected business changes.
  • Forecasting of carbon credits and offsets due to anticipated reductions in emissions.

14. Sphera

Sphera, formed in 2016 after various predecessor companies were combined, initially focused on EHS compliance and reporting software before extending its product line into ESG and sustainability tools. It now provides cloud-based software and associated consulting services to help companies identify, manage and mitigate ESG-related risks, as well as a separate product stewardship offering that can be used to improve the sustainability performance of an organization's products.

The ESG software is designed to support more informed ESG investment decisions and management of environmental risks. It offers more than 13,000 ESG-related data sets for use in over 20 industries and can streamline sustainability reporting across business silos, while also helping companies adapt to evolving ESG goals and stakeholder needs.

Sphera also offers the following ESG and sustainability features:

  • Integration of ESG performance and risk management through the company's SpheraCloud platform.
  • Guidance on managing ESG initiatives from sustainability practitioners.
  • Tools to help identify and prioritize ESG goals and create a roadmap to help guide investment decisions.

15. Sweep

Sweep was founded in 2020, making it one of the newest vendors on this list. It offers carbon tracking and management software designed to help companies reduce their own emissions and collaborate with supply chain partners on reduction efforts. The Sweep platform provides tools for identifying emissions hotspots and potential reduction opportunities; defining targets and roadmaps; and measuring progress, including a survey function that can be used to gather information from people both inside and outside of a company.

The software collects data on more than 35,000 emissions factors and organizes it into a tree-like view to help users better understand the sources of emissions and easily assign responsibility for reduction initiatives. Sweep can also simulate the impact of different what-if scenarios on emissions and suggest ways to reduce them. The Sweep for Supply Chain module can similarly identify hotspots to prioritize with business partners in order to reduce a company's indirect scope 3 emissions.

Other features provided by Sweep include the following:

  • A free assessment tool to highlight where an organization is already doing well on emissions and what actions it can take to stay ahead of its peers.
  • A Sweep for Finance module that banks and investment firms can use to manage financed emissions in their investment portfolios.
  • Reports that mirror how a business is organized based on products, divisions or locations.

16. UL Solutions

Originally named Underwriters Laboratories, the venerable safety standards organization established in 1894, UL Solutions now also offers a portfolio of software products, including a set of ESG and sustainability tools. Its UL 360 reporting software helps companies collect, manage and report ESG and sustainability data and build an audit trail with automated tolerance checks and attachment uploads. Users can also benchmark their organization's ESG performance against other companies.

UL Solutions also sells a 360 Supply Chain tool for tracking sustainability practices, risks and opportunities in a company's supply chain, as well as carbon emissions reporting software called Turbo Carbon and PurView, a tool that can be used to evaluate whether materials, products and manufacturing processes are sustainable and socially responsible. In addition, the company offers ESG advisory services and verification of corporate greenhouse gas statements.

The UL 360 software includes the following additional features:

  • The ability to export ESG reports to Tableau, Qlik and Power BI for analytics.
  • Six preconfigured starter pack options for fast deployments in six weeks or less.
  • Customized reporting tools for managing emissions in real estate property portfolios.

17. Watershed Technology

Founded in 2019, Watershed Technology bills its software as "the enterprise climate platform." The company offers end-to-end capabilities to help companies measure, report and reduce carbon emissions and align their climate strategies with profitability and other business results. The Watershed platform supports detailed carbon accounting on tens of thousands of emissions factors to identify opportunities for reductions both within companies and across supply chains.

The platform is also designed for speed and ease of use. To generate a carbon footprint analysis, users can upload raw data by dragging and dropping files into a dashboard or automating data collection via an API, and footprint calculations automatically refresh when new data is added. In addition, Watershed provides audit-ready reporting that complies with the TCFD, CDP, SASB and GRI standards, as well country-specific ones. Companies can also use the software to model future emissions scenarios at the material, product and company level and create an action plan for reducing their emissions.

The following are some of the other features that Watershed provides:

  • Vetting and matching tools that enable users to buy clean power for buildings, data centers and remote workers.
  • An integrated marketplace for investing in carbon removal projects and offsets that also have been vetted by Watershed.
  • Support from in-house climate experts, who can also prepare and submit CDP reports and work with third-party auditors.

18. Wolters Kluwer Enablon

Enablon was founded in 2000 and acquired by information, software and professional services provider Wolters Kluwer in 2016. It initially focused on EHS and GRC software before adding ESG and sustainability management tools to its SaaS-enabled Enablon Vision Platform. The Enablon ESG offering includes sustainability and ESG reporting software, plus applications for managing sustainability performance metrics, greenhouse gas emissions and relationships with stakeholders.

Enablon ESG users can create reports that conform with TCFD, GRI, CDP and other reporting standards. The performance metrics application enables companies to track both qualitative and quantitative ESG metrics on various KPIs, including water and energy usage, emissions and waste generation. The stakeholder management one offers features to help identify and rank stakeholders based on potential impacts, plus a contacts directory and an audit trail for interactions with stakeholders. In addition, users can integrate management of ESG risks and wider operational and enterprise ones.

Other features included in Enablon ESG include the following:

  • Data quality and validation through automated consistency checks and data approval workflows.
  • The ability to track sustainability performance at the corporate, business unit, regional and facility levels.
  • Functionality to help tailor and personalize ESG reports and communications for different stakeholders.

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