Understanding the SASB Materiality Map

December 7, 2021


In 2011, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) was established. The SASB is a nonprofit organization that helps companies and their investors develop a common language in relation to the financial impacts of sustainability on business. If you are a firm or investor who has had to navigate the corporate sustainability landscape over the years, you are most likely aware of the complexity it entails. You may even be one of the many global companies that have called for clarity, simplification, and consistency to help you in your goal to run a sustainable business.

In response to simplicity requests, the SASB, along with the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), merged to create the Value Reporting Foundation. The joining of these two organizations provide significant progress towards simplification and a focus on enterprise value creation.

One of the first tasks of the VRF was the launch of a comprehensive suite of resources, including Integrated Thinking Principles, the Integrated Reporting Framework, and the SASB Standards, which are designed to help firms and investors develop a collective understanding of enterprise value.

In this article, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions management experts at SINAI explore the SASB’s standards, the SASB Materiality Map, and how they help firms achieve their net-zero goals.

What is the SASB materiality map?

SASB’s Materiality Map® helps firms identify sustainability issues that are likely to affect your firm’s operating performance or financial resilience within whatever industry you operate in - from consumer goods, healthcare, and infrastructure, to financial services and transportation.

Source: SASB

Twenty-six sustainability-related general business issues are presented down the left-hand column of the SASB and reflect a range of disclosure topics and their associated accounting metrics, varying by sector or industry. As an example, the general issue category of GHG emissions encompasses both the food and beverage topic in the Agricultural Products Industry and the Transportation topic in the Marine Transportation industry.

Within the one map, your firm can explore both sector and industry level maps that highlight:

  1. Issues likely to be material for more than 50% of industries in a given sector.
  2. Issues likely to be material for fewer than 50% of industries in a given sector.
  3. Issues not likely to be material for any of the industries in a given sector.
  4. The likelihood of no material issue for companies in a specific industry.
  5. The likelihood of a material issue for companies in a specific industry.

Take a look at the interactive SASB materiality map to explore your own industry and corresponding general business issues.

Source: SASB

SASB has also built a Materiality Finder that offers a quick way for your firm to identify your industry’s disclosure topics and compare industries side-by-side.

SASB standards explained

SASB’s seventy seven industry standards put forward detailed sector-specific disclosure topics and metrics to inform what your firm includes in your integrated SASB sustainability report, providing insight into the underlying sustainability issues most closely tied to your company’s ability to create long-term value for your investors.

SASB’s standards address sustainability-related opportunities and risks reasonably likely to affect your firm’s financial resilience, in other words, your balance sheet. The standards also help your company identify opportunities and risks in your current operating performance and risk profile.

The research scope of SASB Standards encompasses a range of sustainability issues, including social and environmental information as well as operational governance for your firm, such as value chain management, business ethics, systemic risk management, and the physical impacts of climate change.

SASB reporting: how to meet standards with ease

SASB’s standards cite carbon accounting metrics already used in many sectors and industries by more than 200 organizations, including the WHO, CDP, OSHA, and the EPA. Aligning SASB’s standards with existing reporting standards can help your firm avoid unnecessary costs while bringing your reporting framework in line with global corporate transparency efforts.

SINAI’s all-in-one platform allows your firm to produce transparent calculations and access methodologic guidance at whatever stage in your decarbonization journey you are in. Build custom emissions factors quickly and efficiently while exploring our emissions factor database, including EPA, IPCC, GHG Protocol methodologies, and more.

What sets SINAI’s solution apart from the rest is our automated cost curves, making it possible for your firm to develop and maintain a portfolio of measures for achieving your ambitious decarbonization goals. We’re able to assist your company in identifying the most cost-effective opportunities while generating automatic, accessible, and user-friendly Marginal Abatement Cost Curves (MAC Curves) and Levelized Cost Curves.

Consider SINAI’s customizable software to take your SASB reporting to the next level and make it quick and easy for your firm to show investors and customers how you are meeting your decarbonization goals. Contact us for a demo today and see what SINAI can do to help your company reach its net-zero goals with ease.

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