For Baloise, sustainable management also means taking the environment into consideration. Our environmental policy combines the responsible use of resources, energy efficiency and CO2 reduction in our business with a responsible investment policy that focuses on climate-friendly industries, and we also include environmental criteria in our underwriting policy.
We have had our own environmental policy in place since as far back as 1999. Here it was important to integrate sustainability throughout the company as a whole right from the outset. For Baloise, the environment is one of six resources we use to generate value and over which we have a considerable impact. For instance, we avoid greenhouse gases that are harmful to the climate and protect our atmosphere on a sustained basis by constructing our office buildings in line with sustainability standards.
Our value-added model, which we created in 2019, reflects this holistic view. In order to enact positive change in our actions, we follow the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (UN SDGs).
As an insurance company, we do not manufacture goods. Our greatest energy requirements at our sites come in the form of electrical power and heating energy consumption. As we spend a lot of our time at work and also travel for business purposes, we as a company are committed to reducing our CO2 emissions on an ongoing basis, doing everything in our power to optimise our own material life cycles. We further reduced our travel again in 2021 by using hybrid meeting forms.
Our direct CO2 emissions have fallen continually by 74.4 per cent since 2000. This reduction is documented in our life cycle assessment.
Since 2020 we have been retroactively offsetting our company’s CO2 emissions that we have not yet been able to avoid through optimisation and reduction. In 2020 we offset about 11,000 tonnes through three certified projects. The projects were audited for the arrangements and procedures of the following procedures and honoured:
- Verified Carbon Standard (VCS)
- The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCB Standards)
- ISO 14064-2, validated by TUEV NORD
- Certificate of offsetting Swiss Climate
In addition to optimising our processes and reducing and offsetting our CO2 emissions, an important concern for us is promoting innovations in the area of climate protection. Through our membership in the Swiss Climate Foundation, we have been investing the net amount from the redistribution of the CO2 tax each year since 2021. The Foundation uses the monies to support SMEs in Switzerland and Liechtenstein that are developing innovative solutions for the climate or improving their energy efficiency.
We provide funding and volunteer work to organisations that strive to protect our environment and climate. Charity work does not just affect us as people, it also affects our environment. Only in an intact environment can we feel at ease; only in an intact environment can we really flourish. That is why we support environmental organisations and play an active role in protecting the environment too.
Doing so will involve focusing on raising the awareness of our employees and providing background information and tips on a range of issues relating to sustainable development, some of which can also be applied to our home lives. In Luxembourg, for instance, we collaborate with OUNI (Luxembourgish for “without”, operator of the first packaging-free organic grocery store in Luxembourg) and train our employees specifically on how to act in an environmentally friendly manner. In Germany, the Green Team provides tips and tricks to employees for a sustainable, environmentally friendly lifestyle at work and at home. A discussion forum enables employees to contribute their knowledge and allow others to share in it.
When it comes to our climate-friendly company buildings, we apply state-of-the-art construction standards and renovation methods and run the buildings in the most resource-saving manner possible. At all of our locations in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, we obtain 100 per cent of our electricity from renewable energies in buildings where we are able to determine the energy mix ourselves.
In addition, nearly all locations have centralised recycling stations for paper, aluminium, PET and residual waste, which have replaced the waste containers at each workstation. All employees in Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium and at the Head Office in Switzerland have been given reusable bottles.
The construction of the three new buildings in Baloise Park was based on the Sustainable Construction Standard Switzerland (SNBS) and thereby considerably exceeds legal requirements regarding energy efficiency. The Head Office already uses 100 per cent district heating.
In 2021 we also implemented various technical measures in collaboration with AUE (Office for Environmental Protection and Energy) that had been agreed upon in a roadmap:
- New rotation speed regulation for ventilator motors
- Drive replacement with frequency converter
- Replacement of chiller condenser pumps
- Replacement of drive for heat recovery pumps
- Replacement of motors for office ventilators
It is estimated that this will save 50,000 kWh of electricity per year.
Also, at our agencies in Switzerland, we converted to flexible working at various new locations or in connection with modernisations, enabling us to optimise costs and consumption.
The new office building in Leudelange, Luxembourg, will be the first in the country to be made entirely of wood. The wood used to construct this office building, called Wooden, comes exclusively from sustainably managed forests in Greater Luxembourg. Wooden is equipped with photovoltaic modules and is aiming for the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) Excellent environmental certification.
In addition to its constructive qualities, Wooden is also the second building in Luxembourg to be part of the WELL Building Standard® certification process. In contrast to other labels in the construction sector, the focus here is placed on residents, namely through ten concepts that enable a holistic approach to well-being in and around the building: air, water, food, light, physical activity, temperature, noise, materials, spirit and community. The new office building will be better accessible via public transport. This measure will thus also hopefully reduce indirect CO2 emissions. In addition, Baloise relies on consistent waste separation at the Luxembourg site to return valuable materials to the production cycle.
In addition, we are already pursuing a “zero paper ambition” in Luxembourg for our employees and customers. Ten charging stations for electric vehicles were installed in 2021, with the option of adding up to 15 more if necessary.
The Link, Antwerp (Belgium): Baloise in Belgium is investing in a prototype for the office life of the future. In March 2019 it purchased the sustainable building The Link, making it the largest office proprietor in Antwerp. The office building has been awarded the sustainability certificate BREEAM Excellent. The building is almost completely energy-neutral, and the energy used within the buildings is obtained entirely from renewable energies.
Since 2014 we have maintained beehives on the roofs of our office buildings, thereby making a contribution to greater biodiversity. The charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is also being steadily expanded, and about 50 stations will be available by 2024
A variety of measures such as high-efficiency pumps for heating and ventilation, intelligent control systems for heating and cooling, adapted lighting control in lifts and the replacement of obsolete and defective lighting with more efficient LED lighting all help to steadily reduce energy consumption.
The office building in Bad Homburg was certified as an ÖKOPROFIT business back in 2010. The basis for this was the continuous reduction of resource consumption within the company, specifically water and energy, supported in part by the installation of a photovoltaic system in October 2021.
- The introduction of a bicycle leasing service for employees in Belgium and Germany
- Customers and employees in Basel and Zurich (Switzerland) can charge their electric cars with solar power.
- An in-house electric vehicle fleet including an electric charging station for Baloise Bank Soba (Switzerland).
- The provision of electric bicycles for our claims inspectors in Switzerland.
- Promoting the use of public transport through discounts or subsidies on ticket purchases in all countries.
- Electric cars are freely available to employees in Luxembourg during working hours.
- Numerous charging stations for electric vehicles are available to employees in Belgium as well. The charging infrastructure is being steadily expanded, and about 50 stations will be available by 2024.
- From November 2021, senior executives in Germany will receive only electric vehicles as company cars, other than where they choose the fixed financial amount instead.
- In Belgium, the upper limit on CO2 exhaust for company cars was lowered again in 2021. From 2023, only electric vehicles will be provided as company cars.
- In Luxembourg, ten parking spaces were outfitted with charging stations for electric vehicles
Climate protection is equally important to us when it comes to investments in asset management, in underwriting and the procurement of products and services too.
The Responsible Investment Policy (RI Policy) for insurance assets integrates environmental and social criteria, as well as criteria for corporate governance, in investment decisions. In addition, the RI policy has also been extended to all products for third-party customers managed by Baloise Asset Management. Our new climate strategy came into effect on 1 February 2021, and reinforces the focus on the issue of climate and environmental protection within our responsible investment approach. To express our commitment, Baloise signed the Principles of Responsible Investment (Principles of Responsible Investment, PRI) in 2018.
Baloise Asset Management also includes the Real Estate division. Baloise is one of the largest real estate owners in Switzerland. As a responsible investor, sustainable real estate investments and long-term returns are intricately connected for us. We seek certification for all new-build projects and approach renovations on a case by case basis. As a strategic instrument, the CO2 emissions for the entire real estate portfolio are calculated based on a uniform scale and modelled until the year 2050, taking into account all maintenance measures. This enables a constant comparison of emission with the overarching climate goals and visualises the impact of the planned measures on the CO2 emissions reductions.
Through our products and services, we have an influence on sectors, companies and individuals whose activities we support with our offerings. From 2022, Baloise will apply environmental, social and corporate governance criteria in its underwriting guidelines.This means that Baloise will end support for certain sectors and activities while giving affected companies time to demonstrate that they are developing a sustainable business model so as to be able to continue to take advantage of Baloise’s offerings. During this transitional phase, customers should be able to demonstrate a development towards a sustainable business model so that they can continue to take advantage of the Baloise offering. In addition, Baloise sees itself as a reliable insurance partner for customers whose business model is currently in transition.
We observe the same principles in the procurement and use of office equipment and materials. These come in the form of procurement principles subjecting third-party services to sustainability criteria.
Our innovations in sustainability focus on our Home and Mobility ecosystems. In particular, mobility innovations are of great relevance for the environment and for our customers. In addition, we offer insurance for electric vehicles, solar panels, etc., thus affording security for environmentally friendly alternatives.