The Triple Layer Canvas

The Triple Layer Business Model Canvas (TLBMC) is a tool to support the creative exploration of sustainable business models and sustainability-oriented innovation more broadly. It complements and extends Osterwalder and Pigneur’s original economically-oriented Business Model Canvas concept with two new canvas layers, exploring environmental and social value creation.

  • The environmental layer of the TLBMC builds on a life cycle perspective of environmental impact. This stems from research and practice on Life Cycle Assessments (LCA), which is a formal approach for measuring a product’s or service’s environmental impacts across all stages of its life. A formal LCA provides an evaluation of environmental impacts across multiple types of indicators (e.g., CO2e emissions, eco-systems quality, human health, resource depletion, water use,…).
  • The social layer of the TLBMC builds on a stakeholder management approach to explore an organization’s social impact. A stakeholder management approach seeks to balance the interests of an organization’s stakeholders rather than simply seeking maximum gain for the organization itself. Stakeholders are considered those groups of individuals or organizations which can influence or are influenced by the actions of an enterprise. Typical stakeholders for example include employees, shareholders, community, customers, suppliers, governmental bodies, interest groups, etc. –  although others advocate for expanding the stakeholder term to include groups such as media, the poor, terrorist groups, and even non-human actors such as natural ecosystems.

Each layer supports a horizontal coherence, or an integrated approach to exploring an organization’s economic, environmental or social impact, by highlighting key actions and relationships within the nine components of each layer. Combined, the three layers provide vertical coherence through connecting the components of each layer to their analogs in the other layers, further elucidating key actions and connections and their impacts across layers. Integrating the economic, environmental, and social layers supports a more robust and holistic view of an organization’s business model through its actions and relationships, which can support a more systems-level perspective of sustainability-oriented innovation.

Good to know: the TLBMC is offered for free through creative commons to supports those interested in developing sustainability-oriented changes through business model innovating.

Below is an overview of the 3 layers, with the Nespresso example on the right. You can click on the images to enlarge them for a better view.


Economic layer


Environmental life cycle layer


Social stakeholder layer


Nespresso economic layer


Nespresso environmental life cycle layer

Nespresso social stakeholder layer

Additional reading about the tripple layer canvas can be found here.