Microsoft has unveiled new updates to its sustainability cloud solution, covering reporting templates, analytics, custom app development and artificial intelligence (AI), among others.
Within the changes to Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability – a solution that combines a number of environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) capabilities into one platform – is the introduction of prebuilt ESG reporting templates, allowing users to organise and track evidence for various ESG regulatory reporting standards.
The first such standard is the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which came into effect in the European Union in January this year and is a requirement for large organisations and their suppliers and trading partners that do business in the region, according to a blog post by corporate vice president for Microsoft Industry Clouds Satish Thomas.
Other regulations will be included as they are implemented by governing bodies.
Also included in the new waves of updates is the ability to calculate all 15 categories of Scope 3 carbon emissions via the service’s emissions impact dashboard, which quantifies the impact of Azure services on their environmental footprint and estimated emissions from on-premises alternatives.
It also tracks greenhouse gas emissions related to Microsoft 365 cloud services down to individual functions, such as sending emails in Exchange Online, storing Files in SharePoint and joining meetings in Teams.
meanwhile, coming soon is Project ESG Lake, which Thomas claimed can centralise and standardise “data in a comprehensive ESG data estate”, targeting sustainability managers, procurement officers and facility managers, among others.
The service will be able to perform analytics and build custom apps, as well as use Microsoft Fabric to analyse, define, train, score and predict emissions. All of this then can lead to using data sets and AI models to “unlock intelligence and generate actionable insights,” Thomas added.
On the AI front, a new anomaly detection feature will be coming later in the year to identify outliers, trends and correlations between activity data and calculated emissions through an integrated and interactive AI model.
Also under development is what Thomas referred to as “what-if analysis”; using data to find insights and forecasts related to sustainability goals.
“For example, a retail organisation evaluating how to reduce sustainability impact in their supply chain can look for a new manufacturing plant based on energy source,” Thomas said. “They can also evaluate materials emissions and waste projections based on recycled content and long-term durability.
“The outcome of this analysis is intended to enable organisations to improve operational and supply chain sustainability.”
Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability entered into public preview in October 2021 and was officially launched the next year in June 2022.