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Salesforce tool expedites direct and indirect emissions accounting

Scope 1, 2, 3 emissions now trackable with Salesforce Sustainability Cloud

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The previously complicated and monthslong process of carbon accounting can now take less than a day, according to Salesforce.

Salesforce — a software platform that makes it easy to create apps — Tuesday launched a scope 3 emissions hub, building on the Salesforce Sustainability Cloud’s existing scope 1 and scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions tracking capabilities.

The Salesforce Sustainability Cloud focuses on the energy and carbon impacts of commercial buildings, data centers, business travel and fleet vehicles. It calculates GHG emissions based on energy usage, billing data and spending data.

The scope 3 hub can estimate upstream emissions from business travel, shipping and purchased goods, based on a company’s spending data.

Scope 3 emissions are very important for transportation and logistics,” Kevin Vranes, director of product management at Salesforce, said in an interview with FreightWaves. “It’s been interesting to watch the conversation shift from scope 1 and scope 2 to scope 3 [emissions] just in the past 12 months.”

Vranes said some companies are starting to understand how important tracking and reducing scope 3 emissions is since they often make up the majority of a company’s carbon footprint.

The scope 3 hub provides commonly used emissions factors from Environmental Protection Agency data and allows businesses to customize their own emissions factor datasets.

How does it work?

Freight haulers can directly input fuel-usage and miles-driven fleet data, Vranes said. Any company can identify and track the energy use and how that translates into annual carbon emissions for vehicle assets.

GHG emissions calculations rely on many things, including fuel type. Diesel, gasoline, ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas and biodiesel have preset emissions numbers. Vranes said it is also easy for companies to customize specific blends of biodiesel or other alternative fuels that they use to get more accurate emissions data.

While companies can enter their own emissions data into the Salesforce Sustainability Cloud, Vranes said, without a third-party auditor, emissions data might not be seen as trustworthy. The platform does not require audits. However, it does have built-in tools to make the auditing process more efficient.

Saving time with efficient emissions categories

Normally, companies spend months matching up each row of their 10,000-row-long spreadsheet individually with one out of about 400 emissions factors to choose from, according to Vranes. He said that Salesforce has reorganized the order of the procurement data and emissions factors matching process to make it much faster.

With Salesforce, companies start by selecting the most applicable emissions category out of 15 categories and then choose one out of 10 to 15 emissions subcategories within it. 

Instead of looking for a “needle in the haystack” out of nearly 400 factors for each line in the procurement spreadsheet, companies are only presented with the most relevant emissions factors according to the emissions category chosen, speeding up the process, Vranes said.

“We put transformational digital tools in the hands of companies to give them a 360 view of their carbon footprint so they can take meaningful action across their supply chain and reach net zero, faster,” Patrick Flynn, vice president of sustainability at Salesforce, said in a statement.

Salesforce hopes to complete its environmental sustainability piece of the environmental, social and governance sustainability cloud by adding waste and water tools to its existing energy usage and carbon tools in the summer or fall, Vranes said. 

Some of the social aspects are likely to launch in 2022, Vranes noted, and governance aspects will follow sometime after that.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Alyssa Sporrer.

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Alyssa Sporrer

Alyssa is a staff writer at FreightWaves, covering sustainability news in the freight and supply chain industry, from low-carbon fuels to social sustainability, emissions & more. She graduated from Iowa State University with a double major in Marketing and Environmental Studies. She is passionate about all things environmental and enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, ultimate frisbee, hiking, and soccer.