thinkstep, How is Technology serving Sustainability

Recently acquired by Sphera, one of the largest corporate software companies in the US specialising in Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability softwares along with Operational Risk Management and Product Stewardship softwares, thinkstep (indeed not capitalised) is one of the leading sustainable software companies in Europe.

The company is presented as a leader here simply because, in opposition to a vast number of sustainability software developers out there, their solutions go beyond the simple environmental compliance focus. They wholeheartedly adopt the principles of sustainability in their products, creating solutions not only for compliance but also for product sustainability, from the design phases to the end-of-life. They also focus on corporate sustainability, assessing the value of environmental stewardship in the corporations’ strategy. 

Even further than being a sustainability frontrunner, it can easily be argued that thinkstep is a - if not the - leader in the circular economy. A number of their solutions and products focus on Life Cycle Assessment and are based on the Cradle to Cradle® approach to product design and end-of-life stages. 

A significant facet of thinkstep’s activity is its consulting service. Unlike many companies who showcase values of sustainability but focus mainly on stakeholder management and reputation management, thinkstep goes deep into the issues of sustainability in the corporate world. The consulting service provided by thinkstep delves to the core of its clients’ strategy, going as far as outlining the numerical value of sustainability for its client. This service drives the engagement of all stakeholders with sustainability. 

Further, thinkstep is future-facing: it looks at the long-term capacity of the business to protect itself in an increasingly green world. That is why several of the solutions offered are centred around the circular economy, the future of global production and consumption models. 

Additionally, thinkstep has developed consulting solutions to help businesses not only comply with the environmental regulations surrounding the products they develop but become frontrunners in using and implementing tools that will become essential to the survival of companies operating within the circular economy. By accompanying companies performing Life Cycle Assessments of their products, along with product Environmental Footprint assessments Supply Chain Management, thinkstep helps companies come up to their level in terms of forwardness. 

But thinkstep’s primary activity is developing software, more specifically sustainability software. Their two main solutions are the SoFi and the GaBi  Softwares. The former is designed for Corporate Sustainability while the latter is aimed at Product Life Cycle Assessment. The GaBi software comes with several tools, such as the Circularity Toolkit, or the Packaging Calculator. One of its best variations is the GaBi Envision which allows product designers to enter a variety of variables, and tweak them at will to see the impact each will have on the product’s sustainability over its life-time. GaBi Envision does not require its user to have in-depth technical knowledge on sustainability. Instead, it adapts to the product itself and its design requirements to test the impacts of the decisions taken at the product design level. The brilliance of such a solution is even better measured upon remembering the European Commission’s statements in the Circular Economy Action Plan: “Up to 80% of a product’s environmental impacts are determined at the design phase”. 

But we still have not gotten to what is, in our humble opinion, thinkstep’s most significant asset in terms of sustainability: data. thinkstep has built three major databases over the past thirty years. Their Life Cycle Assessment database is the most comprehensive, globally. With more than 12,700 datasets, it is far more extensive than their direct competitors: the Sustainability Consortium who “only” have a few hundred datasets in the Key Performance Indicators database. 

The SoFi software, for corporate sustainability, also has access to large databases, especially related to GHG emissions. The magic related to these databases happens behind the curtain, however. Where you can have direct access to the Life Cycle database to help design a sustainable product, the SoFi software uses the databases directly to calculate the GHG emissions of a corporation and assess how to decrease them. The real revolution of thinkstep’s solutions is that they not only allow companies to calculate, minimise and offset their emissions (should they want to do the latter), they also identify hotspots of activity and cost-cutting opportunities, thereby increasing the corporation’s profitability. 

thinkstep is truly a leader in the twin environmental and digital transitions. They have managed to demonstrate that market-driven environmental sustainability transition should be empowered and driven by technology. Their data analytics solutions have and will continue to revolutionise corporate sustainability. 

Until then, stay safe, live well, live green!

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