Measuring your sustainability initiative for success
There’s plenty of truth in the saying, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Careful and accurate measurement is what distinguishes effective environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs from initiatives that waste resources, at best, and expose your organization to accusations of greenwashing, at worst.
Knowing where you stand is the first step in understanding how you’ll reach your goals. ESG regulation is on the rise, with 225 new or revised policy instruments established in 2021. In fact, it’s estimated that one-third of all assets under management — valued at $53 trillion — will have an ESG mandate by 2025. It’s becoming increasingly important to provide verifiable results to governments, NGOs, industry watchdogs, and consumers.
Measurement is a particular challenge when it comes to establishing a successful ESG program. A recent Harris poll conducted on behalf of Google Cloud indicates that just 22% of organizations have an official ESG program in place and are measuring its impact, a figure that’s down 3% from the previous year. This puts executives in an awkward position when it comes to their public statements, with 87% of respondents saying they wish their organizations had better tools to measure sustainability efforts so they could make more accurate targets. Indeed, these executives say that the number-one way their organizations engage in greenwashing is by setting sustainability goals or making pledges without concrete plans to measure, optimize and transform to achieve them.
The Google Cloud Ready – Sustainability program is built to meet organizations where they are along their ESG journey, and that journey starts with measuring results and process. You might say that measurement is the very foundation of the program. Since its inception a year ago, the Google Cloud Ready – Sustainability program has built a growing cadre of partners dedicated to providing independent and verifiable environmental measurements in a number of areas, including air quality, greenhouse gasses, energy consumption, and resource usage.
Aclima, recognized by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential companies of 2023, leverages a global network of roving and stationary sensors to diagnose the health of our air and track climate-changing pollution. Aclima has collected billions of hyperlocal air pollution and greenhouse gas measurements across the United States and in almost 20 countries around the world, measuring and mapping the air quality for tens of millions of people per year — and that number continues to grow.
BlueSky Resources enables global industrial customers to quantify and address their assets’ atmospheric methane and other emissions using a sensor-agnostic approach powered by its Google Cloud-native data ingestion and analytics engine, Airlogic. Currently, Blue Sky Resources actively monitors over 180 sites worldwide, providing the mining, waste management, and energy verticals with verified measurements and optimal configurations to assess historical trends along with real-time sensing.
Floodbase is an end-to-end data solution for designing and triggering global parametric flood insurance. Using a combination of satellite observations and machine learning, Floodbase enables near real-time flood monitoring, alerts, and risk analysis, anywhere in the world. Across the humanitarian and private insurance sectors, Floodbase is used in over 30 countries to help flood-vulnerable communities prepare for and respond to climate disasters.
Floodlight is a geospatial data intelligence company providing an extensive catalog of sustainability and ESG datasets from ground sensors, aerial satellites, and artificial intelligence, including directly measured Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions. Floodlight’s climate risk assessment tools identify potential threats from coastal erosion, storm risks, aridity, and sea-level rise, providing a holistic view of environmental vulnerabilities to help companies understand biodiversity and mitigate hurricane risks. The tool has been particularly useful in quantifying values of specific assets in less than a week, and providing a clean audit trail all the way back to empirical source data.
Keen AI specializes in creating cutting-edge artificial intelligence and systems that empower customers to easily collect, share, and analyze critical data related to their energy infrastructure assets, accurately assessing their condition and making informed predictions about their future state. Partnering with Google Cloud gives Keen AI access to services like Vertex AI, which enables Keen AI Labs to rapidly prototype and deploy AI-powered solutions to customer use cases within relatively short timelines and agreed budgets.
Planet processes and distributes a global, near-daily stream of satellite data into the workflows of customers and partners, enabling them to quickly build applications that evolve and respond to environmental changes. The company continues to grow its 50 PB archive of Earth data, including an average of 2,400 images of every spot on Earth’s landmass.
Sust Global develops composable climate risk data and analytics products that enable customers to assess financial and operational risks resulting from increasing wildfire, flooding, tropical cyclones, water scarcity, and sea-level rise, enabling risk mitigation and portfolio diversification strategies. Through the company’s climate analytics visual platform, Climate Explorer, it provides a dynamic view of risk by applying predictive and generative AI modeling techniques to geospatial data derived from remote sensing and frontier climate science. Through Sust Global’s data API product, Climate Composer, the company enables climate-informed risk modeling and risk management strategies across its customers in asset management, real estate, and nature-based carbon projects.
UP42 provides quick and easy access to the world’s leading optical, radar, elevation, and aerial data all in one place, with a developer-first platform offering flexible APIs and a Python SDK to help build and scale solutions. Users can search for existing imagery or task a satellite to capture a desired area. By removing technical and commercial barriers to accessing Earth observation data, UP42 empowers organizations to develop reforestation, food security, and disaster prevention solutions that drive socio-economic change at scale.
Watershed is an enterprise climate platform that companies use to measure, report, and reduce their climate impact in weeks rather than months. The platform was built from the ground up on Google Cloud and delivers granular, actionable carbon measurement; one-click disclosure and reporting; target-setting and decarbonization tools; and access to cutting-edge carbon removal. Watershed’s partnership with Google Cloud streamlines climate measurement and reporting by leveraging Google Cloud tools like BigQuery for fast and accurate translation of business to carbon data.
Taking the next step toward measuring ESG progress
Whole-system, transparent climate and ESG reporting depends on high-fidelity, high-frequency measurements. Further, these measurements must be available to central decision support and/or reporting platforms so each metric is correctly accounted for with auditable data. To date, no one organization knows the full scope of each domain and/or can report against them with the level of subject matter or climate science expertise required to meet existing and evolving frameworks and regulations. Therefore, you must enlist solution providers that have demonstrated operational and planetary impact in their specific field, provide sustainable cloud resources to generate relevant insights, and harmonize reporting so that each member of the sustainability insights community can contribute.
Measurement is what provides the roadmap for action. It is the key to a successful sustainability program, and it should be a first step in building trust with customers, communities, and regulators. It provides the clear, authoritative reporting stakeholders demand, while also offering business leaders the quantitative results they’re looking for. This has been the mission of the Google Cloud Ready – Sustainability program — to connect organizations to repeatable, impact-driven solutions, powered by the cloud built for sustainability. The growing partner ecosystem of the Google Cloud Ready – Sustainability program offers the tools you need to provide whole-system, authoritative reporting.
Look for Google Cloud Ready – Sustainability validated solutions on the Google Cloud Partner Directory Listing, Google Cloud Ready Sustainability Partner Advantage page, and — if applicable — via the Google Cloud Marketplace. We hope to help customers better understand how these technologies can help them meet their ESG goals, find the right solutions for their particular challenges, and implement solutions faster.
Learn more about the Google Cloud Ready – Sustainability validation initiative and explore all our partners in sustainability transformation.