The new company award.

In 2023, the GSA breaks new ground. AI-assisted research, 100 industries and expert juries, its own scoring system, two-part competition, a new awards format. Here are the details.

From the top for the width.

The challenges of climate change, resource scarcity and species extinction are intensifying. Parallel, the competencies of the sustainable economy in Germany are growing. Pioneers have long since shown which solutions work and how practical transformation succeeds. Now it is a matter of making a difference on a broad scale. This phase of the transformation offers new and structurally different challenges than the previous one.

This is where the new GSA methodology for companies comes in, which is being implemented together with assessment partners PwC Germany and the Centre for Sustainable Management (CSM) at Leuphana University Lüneburg. The research is contributed by the Berlin-based startup score4more.


The new GSA is designed to identify companies in all industries that have successfully embarked on the long, complex way to sustainability. No one is at the finish line; the industries are at different stages of progress. For this reason, the GSA avoids superlatives such as "the most sustainable" with hardly redeemable absolute promises. The term " pioneer" is closer to the methodology, which classifies which company is exemplary in promoting the transformation in its industry in which area and with which topics.

This is not to say that each of them does or has done everything right from every angle at all times. We quantitatively identify particularly effective solutions, innovative contributions and exemplary measures - wherever possible. We then draw on a broad range of experienced stakeholders. They bring to the juries their knowledge and diverse perspectives, as well as critical faculties and courage, to name pioneers whose transformative solutions can serve as models for others.

100 industries.

Key sustainability issues are industry-specific. The subdivision into sectors and industries enables a structured analysis of the respective pioneering companies. The GSA has based the classification on the ISIC (International Standard Industrial Classification), WZ (Classification of Economic Activities) and NACE (Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community), which is also used in the EU regulation CSRD, EU taxonomy or the German Sustainability Code, among others.

These are the 20 sectors and behind them the corresponding industries:

Application and research.

Companies from all sectors and of all sizes were eligible to apply. This means that the competition remains open to all companies. In addition, comprehensive research supported by AI took place via the Internet of publicly available data, as reported by many companies in the meantime in sustainability reports, declarations on the German Sustainability Code or on company websites. The processes were accompanied scientifically; quality assurance is carried out manually. With this approach, the GSA aims for a scalable, transparent data basis.

Research partner score4more specializes in creating differentiated sustainability profiles of companies and evaluating them. The Berlin-based startup will provide the digital architecture for research across all sectors and industries and the resulting company profiles from 2023. Companies of all sizes can create their profiles free of charge and could thus use this platform to apply for the GSA.

The basic population of about 50 researched companies per industry on average follows these criteria:

  • Companies from the 100 defined industries, including municipal and public companies, exclusive public administration, sovereign organizations, associations and NGOs
  • Business activity in Germany, that means resident with headquarters in Germany or business activity in Germany with headquarters abroad
  • Companies of all sizes (oriented to EU-CSRD) incl. market innovation leaders, hidden champions) AND/OR
  • in sustainability visible via renowned rankings, ratings, awards or memberships AND published sustainability performance within the last 3 years (for 2023: 2019, 2020, 2021) oriented to recognized standards (GRI, DNK).

Sustainability profiles.

The sustainability profiles reflect the previous methodology of the GSA, the orientation towards the most important transformation fields. These fields are derived from the United Nations' Agenda 2030 as well as from the goals of the EU Green Deal and the German government's sustainability strategy.

The sub-themes also reflect the requirements of the EU taxonomy and the new EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the corresponding European Sustainability Reporting Standard (ESRS) as the new European reporting standard.

Die Transformationsfelder mit Subthemen sind

  • Climate (esp. climate protection and climate adaptation; E1),
  • Resources (esp. circular economy and water; E5/E3),
  • Nature (esp. pollutants and biodiversity; E2/E4),
  • Value chain (esp. employees and supply chain; S1/S2) and
  • Society (esp. communities and consumers; S3/S4).

Each company is evaluated on the basis of its sustainability profile. The profiles are designed to be industry-specific and map key sustainability issues for the industry in question.

The profile includes:

  • Industry classification sector and industry according to DNP
  • Company data / size business data
  • Contact person from published data / application
  • URL link to the report


  • Abstract of the company's sustainability story
  • 1. Transformation field (highest materiality in the industry; four criteria related to measures and solutions)
  • 2. Transformation field (materiality in the industry; one criterion related to measures and solutions)
  • 3. Transformation field (materiality in the industry; one criterion related to measures and solutions)
  • One indicator CO2e emissions in the last 3 years
  • Further measures/solutions of the company
  • Upload option for additional information

Specially developed scoring system.

Based on the profiles, score4more's scoring system identifies the companies with the most effective contributions to transformation, the pioneers in each industry. The profile data is ranked along a 6-level methodology analogous to the hotel star system. These scoring levels are applied to all criteria in the Sustainability Profile and are defined individually for each criterion.

The average score of the company is calculated from the individual scores. Researched profiles and profiles created by the company itself are treated equally in the evaluation. A ranking of the top field is created on the basis of the scores.

The 6 scoring levels are

5 = leading
High impact via solutions AND internal sustainability as a company  
4 = far advanced
High internal sustainability as a company OR high impact via solutions
3 = on track
Advanced in internal sustainability AND/OR in solutions 
2 = beginning
Starting with internal sustainability AND/OR first solutions 
1 = Standard
Legal and/or industry standard 
0 = inactive 
"red light" for internal sustainability AND/OR solutions

Expert juries for all industries.

100 independent expert juries use their expertise and contextual knowledge to decide on the pioneers on the basis of the sustainability profiles: companies that demonstrate effective, successful and exemplary contributions to transformation in their industry, that have become or should become role models. In doing so, they take into account the scorings, as well as different company sizes and development dynamics. Each jury consists of approximately four experts from the fields of:

  • Industry practice,
  • civil society,
  • management consulting,
  • research.

The jurors are independent and not bound by any particular interests. The jury evaluation in each sector takes place in a two-stage process. The first voting is about identifying the trailblazers. The nominees are informed of their success and can update or supplement their profile. Then, in the second voting, the industry jury uses this (new) basis to decide on the top field. The work of the expert juries concludes with the top 3 (finalists) in each case and a winner in 100 industries.

All jury members

Role models of transformation.

In addition to the best in the industry, the GSA honors those companies across sectors that have made particularly important and exemplary contributions in the most important transformation fields. They serve as special examples that carry motivation across the board. The assessment partners from PwC Germany and CSM Lüneburg only look at the winners for this purpose. Each of the 100 companies is assigned to the transformation field most relevant to its industry: Climate, Resources, Nature, Society or Value Chain; in this field, the additional DNP can be awarded.

For each transformation field, the assessment partners use the available data to determine which of the companies demonstrate the most effective and exemplary sustainability performance across industries. The assessment partners determine the top group in each of the five transformation fields. In doing so, they aim to achieve a balanced plateau per transformation field that takes into account, as far as possible, large, medium-sized and small/medium-sized companies, a variety of industries and maturity levels from newcomers to established companies.

Jury decision.

The decision on the winners in each transformation field is made by the interdisciplinary jury of the German Sustainability Award. It differs from the expert juries. The approximately 16-person panel is appointed annually by the Board of Trustees in accordance with the GSA's statutes, which, in addition to the personal and professional suitability of the individual juror, takes into account a balanced representation of different stakeholder interests in the entire jury.

(Kopie 10)

The rules for jury work in specialist juries and the corporate jury are basically identical. The jury evaluation in each transformation field takes place in a multi-stage process. The jury decides by simple majority in a secret ballot. It selects the finalists and the winner in each transformation field, who are informed about their good performance and invited to the award ceremony. The winners will only be announced at the award ceremony of the 16th German Sustainability Award on November 23, 2023 in Düsseldorf.

Research partner score4more.

The GSA's research partner for companies is the Berlin-based startup score4more. It specializes in creating differentiated sustainability profiles of companies and evaluating them, after the founders previously accompanied the GSA for more than ten years and contributed significantly to the methodological development of the company competition. score4more will provide the digital architecture for research across all sectors and industries and the resulting company profiles from 2023.

Companies of any size, whether reporting or not, can create their profiles free of charge and thus use the platform to apply for the GSA. score4more has also developed the sector-specific scoring approach, which allows companies to be compared and rated. The GSA uses score4more's technological platform to map and evaluate thousands of companies, measures and key performance indicator values in the competition and to determine the pioneers of sustainability in Germany via transparent jury processes.

To the website of score4more


Transparency Notice.

The creation of the sustainability profile at or by score4more is free of charge for the participating and researched companies. There are no participation fees. The GSA foundation rewards score4more for all services related to the GSA: research, creation of short profiles (so-called "basic profiles") on researched companies and provision of the platform for applications by actively creating profiles, scoring, additional research on media reports, transmission of data to carry out jury work.

These services are part of the score4more business model. However, the range of services offered by score4more with regard to publicly available data and data actively provided by companies goes beyond this. Companies can, for example, create more extensive profiles about themselves that go beyond the "basic profile", so that potential customers can obtain more information

offer and/or facilitate their own reporting. You can request profiles from other companies (e.g. for competitive analyses or bid comparisons). For these services, costs are shown in detail on the score4more website.

As a research partner, score4more commits itself to independence and neutrality towards the GSA. The creation of a more extensive profile for a fee or the use of further services of score4more does not influence the creation of the sustainability profile, the scoring or further research for the GSA in any way. Score4more undertakes to also avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest by disclosing any business connections with companies being considered as nominees/finalists of the competition. In such cases, the profile and scoring will be subject to review by the Centre for Sustainable Management at Leuphana University.