Zurich in the Isle of Man is a multiple sustainability award winner and one of the founding partners of ESC (Energy & Sustainability Centre Isle of Man), the leading Manx charity that supports the Island’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

In this Q&A we talk to Mark Cady (Chief Operating Officer, Zurich International Life Ltd), and Jason Buckley (Facilities manager at Zurich House, the company’s Braddan headquarter), about the mutual benefits that have been gained by this powerful corporate/third-sector partnership.

Mark: Our parent company, Zurich Insurance Group, has a longstanding commitment to sustainability which is based on our ‘Planet’ promise that includes a commitment to achieving net-zero in our operations by 2030.

The Group was also the first insurer in the world to sign-up to the UN’s Business Ambition pledge to limit global temperature rise.

But our sustainability and climate change commitments are not only about reducing the carbon footprint of the business, it also includes helping our customers to manage the risks of climate change, with our Zurich Resilience Solutions business being one example of how we’re doing that.

Here in the island our team is committed to playing their part in achieving our global and local net-zero targets, which of course means we will also be helping the Isle of Man on its net-zero journey.

Our commitment to sustainability underpins everything we do, so when we heard about ESC, its aims, and the wealth of expertise behind the charity, we knew it was an initiative which was perfectly aligned with our mission and vision.

Q: As a leader on sustainability in the life sector both locally and globally, the benefits to ESC that stem from Zurich’s support are obvious, but Zurich has gained from the partnership too.

Jason: Yes, that’s right. A key element of ESC’s strategy is to facilitate private, public and third-sector collaboration to accelerate the island’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

Our experience of working with ESC shows clearly that this is having a real impact.

A good example is when we were in the early stages of planning to invest in renewable energy and sought advice from a number of internal and external sources.

ESC’s expertise on the technical and planning aspects were very useful and fed into the process of deciding what type and what scale of renewable energy system was suitable for our needs.

The success of our award-winning solar power project – which supplied nearly half our electricity needs in its first year of operation – shows that we made the right decisions, so we’re very grateful for ESC’s valuable contribution.

The panelists during the GreenTalks Live event - a two-hour Question Time-style event organised by ESC (Energy & Sustainability Centre IOM)
The panelists with Clive Myrie at the GreenTalks Live event - a two-hour Question Time-style event organised by ESC (Energy & Sustainability Centre IOM) * Professor James Curran MBE (author of the IMPACT report which ultimately led to the Island’s net-zero strategy) * Dr Dave Quirk (ESC’s Research Director & Transition Adviser at the Technical University of Denmark) * John Galloway (Isle of Man Development Director for Ørsted Isle of Man) * Mark Cady (Chief Operating Officer at Zurich International Life Ltd) * Adam Creamore (Senior Manager, ESG at KPMG Crown Dependencies) * Clara Isaac (Director, Recycle Collect) * Adrian Cowin (former Senior Meteorological Officer for the Isle of Man) * Lawrie Hooper MHK (Health and Social Care Minister & Liberal Vannin Party leader) * Graham Makepeace-Warne (Engagement Manager & Deputy CEO, Manx Wildlife Trust) * Andrew Langan-Newton (Isle of Man Green Party). (Energy & Sustainability Centre IOM)

Mark: In addition to practical help and support there’s also ESC’s ability to create forums where businesses in the island can share ideas and best practice. 

At Zurich we’re always keen to share our knowledge about renewable energy and sustainability and learn from others in the business or wider community too.

One of the many great things about the island is that this happens naturally through business contacts – but the ESC team have taken that to another level via events such as the very successful GreenTalks Live debate chaired by Clive Myrie.

Creating this type of forum is a great way to accelerate the process of sharing knowledge, examples of best practice, and success stories which inspire more individuals and organisations on their own net-zero journeys.

 Q: Finally, looking ahead to Zurich in the Isle of Man making more progress towards its net-zero goals, what’s on the horizon for 2024 and beyond?

Mark: We’re looking to make more progress with reducing our carbon footprint by focusing on three key areas: reducing consumption of energy and raw materials; increasing the proportion of renewable energy we use; and increasing the recycling of materials that we do use.

Jason: Yes, not using something is always better than using something and recycling it – so we will be looking at how we can make further reductions in our paper, plastic and electricity consumption.

We’ve made good progress so far – one example being cutting our electricity consumption by a quarter over a three-year period, but there is more we can do.

We already have some smart technology devices which manage and monitor electricity usage, but the latest IoT (Internet of Things) tech allows us to take that a step further.

We’re looking at devices which have multiple sensors measuring everything from temperature to CO2 throughout our office building and providing highly accurate real-time data.

This makes it possible to fine tune the office environment to ensure we’re managing our energy consumption as efficiently as possible by only using what we need, when we need it.

We’re expecting improved performance from our solar power system when we get the second full-year data in Q3.

As with all solar systems, summer output exceeds immediate demand, so investing in photovoltaic battery storage would be the next big step to maximise our solar system’s performance.

We’re well-advanced in our research of the battery storage options that would suit what we need, and that again has included valuable input from ESC.

Having said that, it’s still early days and there’s a lot of technical and funding work to be done, but if what we have in mind is achieved this year we believe it would be another Isle of Man first for Zurich, so watch this space!

Click here to watch part 1 of ESC’s GreenTalks Live debate which features Mark Cady talking about Zurich in the Isle of Man’s solar power project and other sustainability initiatives.