Net-zero ideas to help cut your business’ carbon footprint

Article | May 15, 2024

We’re six years away from 2030 – a date set by many businesses as a net-zero target. That may not seem very long, but a lot can be achieved in that time, as shown by what Zurich on the Isle of Man has done in the past six years. In this article we look back at some of its main achievements since 2018, so you may find some useful ideas to help your business on its net-zero journey.


Zurich House – the company’s HQ at Isle of Man Business Park – opened in this year and today it is still one of the most modern and sustainable office buildings on the Island. The building is BREEAM accredited which means it was specifically designed with sustainability in mind, particularly in regard to efficient use of power and water.


Zurich signed up to the Biosphere Pledge and became a UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man Partner. The five-point pledge is a commitment to protect the Island’s natural resources, develop the economy in a sustainable way, support and promote our cultural heritage, make a positive environmental impact, and engage with the local community. At a global level Zurich Insurance Group became the first insurer in the world to sign up to the UN’s 1.5 Celsius Business Ambition. Since then the Group has created a Sustainability Leadership Council (SLC) and a 1.5 Task Force.


A year in which the Isle of Man and the world had to cope with Covid lockdowns. Even so, both here on the Island and globally, Zurich used the time wisely. Plans were drawn up to reduce water usage at the company’s IOM offices and these would deliver benefits from 2021 onwards. Globally, Zurich Insurance Group was rated as the number one company in the insurance sector for the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).


In this year a series measures began to be implemented that in the long-term would help to significantly reduce electricity consumption at Zurich House. This included installing an intelligent lighting control system and energy efficient monitors/screens and introducing new working practices to make sure all devices are switched off when not in use.

After months of research and feasibility studies, proposals were also drawn up to build a solar array with the capacity to generate up to 200 kilowatts (200,000 watts) of electricity. That power output is equal to about 130 Mark Cavendishes sprinting at full speed at the end of a Tour de France stage! Or enough to power 2,000 100watt lightbulbs. Planning permission for the project was granted in December.


A solar power system – which was the biggest of its type on the Island at the time – became operational in July. Solely funded from within Zurich, the company contracted Isle of Man firm Ardern & Druggan to design and build the 540-panel solar array on the roof of the multistorey car park next to Zurich House. In addition to providing power for its office, the solar array also contributes to sustainability due to guttering designed to harvest rainwater. The solar project was a key factor behind Zurich winning the Energy category in the 2022 UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man Awards.

In March 2022 Zurich Insurance Group brought forward its net-zero targets by 20 years (from 2050 to 2030) – another example of how strong commitments and leadership at group level can help to drive achievements at local and regional level.


One year on from its launch, Zurich announced the results of power generated from the solar power system. Data gathered from August 2022 to July 2023 showed that it had generated 47% of the electricity used at Zurich House. In addition to increasing the percentage of electricity used from renewables, Zurich on the Isle of Man also announced that over three years (from 2021 to 2023) the business had cut its electricity consumption by 25%. These achievements contributed to Zurich winning the Energy category in the UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man Awards for the second year running.


Zurich House already has some smart technology devices which manage and monitor electricity usage, but plans are in motion to explore the latest IoT (Internet of Things) tech which will allow the business to take that a step further. They are looking at devices which have multiple sensors measuring everything from temperature to carbon dioxide throughout the building and providing highly accurate real-time data. This makes it possible to fine tune the office environment to ensure energy consumption is being managed as efficiently as possible by only using what they need, when they need it. The solar power system continues to perform well, and early-stage plans are in the pipeline to explore battery storage to store excess power for future use on sunny days when power generated exceeds demand.

Additionally, Zurich's commitment to sustainability extends beyond utility reduction. Efforts such as significant reductions in printing, offering customers digital transaction options, increasing recycling efforts, carbon offsetting through the new garden, and considerably reducing off-island travel, all contribute towards its 2030 net zero targets. As you can see, there’s a lot going on, so watch this space for more news this year!


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