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Choosing the Best Sustainability Software for Your Organization

Kiana Cardwell

Sustainability software is a valuable tool for organizations of all sizes to track, manage, and report on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance.

A sustainability software solution can help you to:

  • Identify and assess your sustainability risks.
  • Set and track sustainability goals.
  • Perform scenario analysis to assess the impact of different sustainability strategies on your organization.
  • Allocate resources to achieve your sustainability goals.

Important ESG Software Criteria

When choosing a sustainability software solution for your organization, several important factors must be considered.

  1.    Technical Criteria: Find software that is user-friendly and easy to navigate, even for team members with limited technical experience. Consider the future need for this software. Can it be scaled when your organization grows? Can it be integrated into existing systems at your organization?
  2.    Reporting Capabilities: The software should support the reporting standards that are relevant to your industry and region. It should also allow for automated reporting and a level of customization with reports to meet your specific needs. The software should have advanced level carbon accounting and scope emission calculation abilities.
  3.    Customer Support: The support and client success teams are almost as important as the software itself. Proper training and onboarding services, user guides and FAQs, and a responsive customer support system from the vendor will ensure that any software is utilized to its fullest potential. Utilize technical support for organizational evaluation and deployment. A complete solution to your ESG goals may require the integration of multiple software systems.
  4.    Regulation Compliance Support: The ESG regulatory landscape is constantly evolving, and great sustainability software should evolve as well. Regular updates are needed to ensure the software capabilities ease reporting for the latest regulations. The software should also help you identify and assess your sustainability risks and prepare for audits.
  5.    Portfolio Strategy: The software should allow you to perform scenario analyses to assess the impact of different sustainability strategies on your organization and help you set and track material sustainability KPIs and metrics. The software needs to be compatible with the specific needs of a real estate portfolio, including green building certifications and energy benchmarking compliance.

Additional Considerations

In addition to these main factors, you should also consider the following when choosing a sustainability software solution:

  • Overall Needs: Start by identifying your needs. What specific sustainability goals are you trying to achieve? What data do you need to track and manage? What reporting requirements do you have? Once you have a good understanding of your needs, you can start to look for software solutions that meet those needs.
  • Cost: Sustainability software can vary in price, so it is important to budget accordingly. A single platform may not be able to meet a company’s sustainability needs and multiple software solutions may need to be purchased.
  • Implementation Time: Some sustainability software solutions are easier to implement than others. Consider how much time you have to implement the software before making a decision. Be cautious with adopting a high level of customization with your software right out of the gate. This may hinder the ability to adapt to new regulatory requirements in the future.
  • Trials: Request demos from multiple vendors. This is the best way to get a feel for different software solutions and see how they work. Be sure to ask the vendor about the features and functionality that are most important to you. Don’t be afraid to request a demonstration of the software capabilities using real company data for proof of functionality.
  • Customer Reviews: Read customer reviews to get insights into the pros and cons of different sustainability software solutions. Testimonials are important to consider. If you can contact someone with first-hand experience with the software, it could help inform your decision.
  • Fine Print: Before signing any contracts, be sure to read the fine print carefully. Understand the pricing structure, the terms of service, and the support agreement.

Choosing the right sustainability software solution is important, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming decision. Once you have considered all these factors, you can start to narrow down your choices and select the sustainability software solution that is right for your organization. 

About the Author

Kiana Cardwell is currently an ESG Director at Evolution Sustainability Group. She has seven years of professional consulting experience focused on strategic planning, impact measurement, and policy development helping clients across multiple industries reach Environmental, Social, and Governance goals. Cardwell holds an MBA in Sustainability from Bard College and a B.A. from Amherst College. She is a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) and Certified Diversity Professional through the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC), Fitwel Ambassador, and a WELL AP.