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Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability Technical Summit May 2024

Learn or review common terms that are used in Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability documentation.

Activity data

An activity is any action that creates emissions. It's essentially anything that your company does, uses, or benefits from that generates greenhouse gas emissions. Activity data is the quantifiable measurement of that activity.

Example: 341 kilowatt-hours (kWh)

Avoided emissions

The measurable quantity of emissions that a company intentionally avoids generating as a result of choosing a different activity or changing a process.

Calculation job

Each time that you run a calculation, a unique calculation job is generated. The calculation job history contains details such as the time when the job ran and its success rate.

Calculation model

An equation in Microsoft Sustainability Manager that generates carbon emissions or water usage data used in analyses, reports, and scorecards.

See also: Calculation profile

Calculation profile

A feature in Microsoft Sustainability Manager that lets you define the timing and structure of a calculation model.

See also: Calculation model

Carbon intensity

Carbon intensity helps you identify how emissions might be related to various business operations, such as the square footage or headcount of a facility, or the tons or units of products that are produced.

Example: Emissions generated per unit of revenue = Revenue ÷ Emissions

Carbon negative

A company is considered carbon negative when it removes more carbon than it emits each year.

Carbon neutral

A company is considered carbon neutral when it reduces its emissions, and/or when it pays other companies not to emit the equivalent of its remaining emissions.

Cloud for Sustainability data model

This powerful core element of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability lets you unify and standardize diverse sets of operational data, and view and manage them by using standard Dataverse management practices.


A connector lets you import your data from various accounts by using a set of pre-built actions and triggers.

Examples: Comma-separated values (CSV) or XLSX files, an XML or JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) file, a SQL Server database, Salesforce objects, an Impala database, other PowerQuery connectors

Cradle to gate

Accounting for scope 3 activity only in upstream emissions (that is, everything that occurred before goods and services reached your company).

Cradle to grave

Accounting for scope 3 activity through the whole lifespan of goods and services.

Data source

What Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability connects to in order to access activity data. The more closely and directly you can connect to your data source, the better.

Examples: Utility bill, business application, data link, Excel file

Emissions data

An output from the system that is the result of an emission calculation.

Example: 51 billion tons of carbon dioxide

Emission factor

A value that is used in an emissions calculation to convert a quantity of related activity into emissions values for corresponding gases.

See also: Factor mapping

Emissions source

Any of the 23 types of operational activity that are organized into predefined groupings according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

See also: Activity data, Scope 1, Scope 2, Scope 3

Energy intensity

Energy intensity helps you identify how energy usage and facility square footage might be related. It can be calculated as Kilowatt-hours (kWh) ÷ Square feet (sq. ft.).

Estimation factor

A value that is used in calculations to convert one type of known transaction data into an approximate calculated value when actual usage information isn't available.

Example: A company that doesn't receive a utility bill for space that it leases can calculate its emissions by using an estimation factor that is based on consumption in that region.


A value that is used in calculation models to convert one type of data into another type.

Example: One emission factor can convert electricity usage into metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Factor mapping

A method of linking the dynamic attributes of activity data or water usage data to an emission or estimation factor when the calculation job is run. The benefit of using factor mappings is that you don't have to create a separate calculation model for each factor.

See also: Emission factor

False negative

When a system fails to detect an anomaly that has occurred.

Example: The system fails to capture an anomaly when a service outage occurs.

False positive

When a system incorrectly detects an anomaly although none has occurred.

Global warming potential (GWP)

Each greenhouse gas has a different impact on global warming. To enable comparison of different greenhouse gases, each has a global warming potential value that is relative to metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mtCO2e).

See also: mtCO2e

Greenhouse Gas Protocol

The organization ( that establishes comprehensive global standards to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions from public and private sector operations, value chains, and mitigation actions.

Metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mtCO2e)

Each measurement of greenhouse gas can be converted to metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mtCO2e) by using that greenhouse gas's global warming potential (GWP) factor.

See also: Global warming potential (GWP)

Net zero

An organization is considered net zero when it removes as much carbon from the environment as it emits.

Reference data

Contextual, supplemental information that goes into a calculation or helps provide context for calculation outputs.

Examples: Facilities, locations, industry, equation definitions, activity metadata

Removed emissions

The measurable quantity of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gas emissions that a company intentionally removes from the environment.

Revenue intensity

Revenue intensity helps your company identify how carbon emissions and water might be related to revenue. It's calculated by dividing an emissions or water quantity measurement by the related revenue (for example, mtCO2e ÷ Revenue).

See also: Revenue scale, Carbon intensity

Revenue scale

A setting in Microsoft Sustainability Manager that lets you adjust your monthly revenue scale to simplify your revenue intensity scores. Revenue scale options are limited to one to one (1:1, the default option), thousands, millions, and billions.

See also: Revenue intensity


The Greenhouse Gas Protocol has organized all sources of emissions into three types ("scopes") for standard data collection, measurement, and reporting purposes.

See also: Scope 1, Scope 2, Scope 3

Scope 1

Emissions that come from sources that are owned or controlled by your company. This scope comprises four sources of direct emissions: stationary combustion, mobile combustion, fugitive emissions, and industrial processes.

Examples: Emissions from combustion in owned or controlled boilers, furnaces, vehicles, and so on; emissions from chemical production in owned or controlled process equipment

See also: Emissions source

Scope 2

Electricity that is purchased or otherwise brought into the organizational boundary of your company. These emissions physically occur at the facility where electricity is generated. This scope comprises four sources of indirect emissions: electricity, steam, heating, and cooling.

See also: Emissions source

Scope 3

These emissions are a consequence of your company's activities, but they come from sources that your company doesn't own or control. They are produced both upstream and downstream along your organization's value chain. This scope comprises 15 categories across the value chain.

Examples: Business travel, capital goods, transportation

See also: Emissions source

Spend-based accounting

When the money that your company spends on an activity is used as a proxy for actual usage data.

Example: (KMM) $10,000,000 airline travel × Emission factor = Scope 3 Category 6 emissions

Value chain partner

A value chain partner is any third party with whom you do business or are otherwise invested and from whom you need to collect data.

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