A corporate sustainability report is a comprehensive document that outlines a company’s efforts, policies, practices and performance related to social, environmental and economic sustainability. Corporate sustainability reports assess sustainability using three key parameters: environmental, social and governance, often abbreviated as ESG. This blog focuses on the importance of sustainability reference architecture and how it helps companies meet their sustainability goals, especially meeting the environmental side of the ESG goals.

While many companies utilize siloed software solutions to operationalize their environmental efforts, this introduces additional complexities and cost. Challenges arise when these software solutions need to be integrated in order to expose insights that could maximize their benefits. Moreover, siloed software often doesn’t seamlessly integrate into a multi-hybrid cloud corporate architecture. This blog delves into these challenges and explores how siloed software solutions may fall short in innovation, particularly when transitioning from basic analytics to unleashing the full potential of AI capabilities.

Sustainability goal

As mentioned above, a corporate sustainability report is a comprehensive document that outlines a company’s efforts, policies, practices and performance about social, environmental and economic sustainability. It provides stakeholders, including investors, employees, customers and the public with transparent and accountable insights into the company’s commitment to sustainable business practices and its impact on society and the environment. Companies usually share their sustainability goals and achievements in these reports on an annual basis.

Sustainability journey

To achieve sustainable operations, companies need to embark on a journey that starts with a strategy and roadmap, with ESG data reporting being a critical aspect.

IBM Consulting and business partners can help customers with defining a strategy and roadmap, while the IBM ESG solution can assist with ESG reporting requirements. The journey will vary depending on the customer’s level of maturity along the journey, priorities and goals.

It starts with developing a sustainability strategy and roadmap and ESG data reporting. Once the strategy is defined and ESG data is in place, customers may focus on assets and facilities infrastructure where most scope one and scope two carbon emissions are generated. If scope three carbon emission is a corporate priority, then the focus will be sustainable supply chain and circularity. If the weather plays a major role in business and affects corporate sustainability goals, then the focus will be on climate risk management. All companies have IT infrastructure that affect the corporate sustainability target and can be managed using responsible computing and green IT. The journey varies by customer business and sustainability priorities. A brainstorming garage approach will help to define the use cases and requirements before creating the Sustainability Reference Architecture. 

Sustainability reference architecture

The IBM sustainability reference architecture diagram below illustrates how various software applications supporting different business segments can work together to assist customers in achieving their ESG goals. The diagram depicts the various data sources that capture sustainability information critical for producing corporate sustainability reports and how these data sources are collected, assembled, analyzed and reported. You can learn about developing and creating your own solution by leveraging the sustainability reference architecture diagram on this GitHub portal page. IBM IT Architect Assistant can help create this type of architecture using a collaborative garage environment.

IBM IT Architect Assistant

IBM IT Architect Assistant is a responsive web application to assist an IT Architect in designing an architecture. It allows you to easily create your own architectures or start with an existing pattern like the IBM Sustainability Reference Architecture to customize it for your specific requirements. IBM uses IBM IT Architect Assistant for creating architecture diagrams including the above sustainability reference architecture. If you are an IBM customer or business partner, you can try out IBM IT Architect Assistant to make a copy of the architecture and modify it to support your specific goals.  

Architecting for a sustainable future

A well-structured sustainability architecture is the cornerstone of an organization’s journey toward meeting its ESG goals, especially within the environmental domain. By breaking down silos and fostering data accessibility and integration, companies can unlock the true potential of their sustainability efforts, paving the way for innovation and progress. As businesses increasingly recognize the critical importance of sustainability, investing in a solid reference architecture becomes not just a choice but a strategic imperative for a brighter, more sustainable future.

Engage with the IBM TechXchange Sustainability Community Explore sustainability software reference architecture.
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