Sustainability in operations management

Sustainability in procurement and environmental management within our operations is one of the focal points of our sustainability strategy and the introduction of a certified environmental management system is one of our key strategic ambitions. The goal is to keep reducing our environmental footprint and become CO2 neutral by 2040 in Austria and by 2050 in CEE. Our environmental policy is UNIQA's commitment to environmental protection and contains the overall objectives and guidelines of our environmental management system (EMS) ( see download area ).

Sustainable procurement

Our procurement processes aim to achieve the best value for money for our activities, products and services. In addition, we must ensure that all goods and services are procured in a way that meets UNIQA business and compliance needs but also sustainability standards.

Our procurement processes are anchored in the Group Procurement Policy, which commits us to high social and environmental values in corporate management. Supplier integrity and a strict ban on corruption and bribery are important components of these values. The design and implementation of a Supplier Integrity Screening is intended to ensure that UNIQA only enters into business relationships with suppliers who demonstrate a high level of integrity. The process is the responsibility of the procurement function and in the case of outsourcing, the outsourcing manager must be involved. 

As a minimum, the following items must be assessed and properly documented:  

  • The country and potential contracting party (if different from the company) in which the supplier:s are registered
  • Information on whether the company is listed on a public stock exchange
  • Confirmation that suppliers have implemented an anti-corruption policy or other anti-corruption standards as part of a global anti-corruption program

Supplier:s must commit to social and environmental responsibility. It is to be understood as an overarching requirement for all procurement policies of the Group companies. In the social area, all our suppliers are required to respect human rights and ensure that they are not involved in human rights violations or in breach of social and labor laws and regulations. In addition, suppliers should have effective environmental policies to prevent pollution, ensure safe use of natural resources, support environmental protection, and comply with local environmental laws and regulations. 

Increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions 

In the measures to reduce our CO2 emissions, we rely on the one hand on the application of international certifications and standards in our dealings with suppliers - from office materials to the vehicle fleet - and on the other hand on the optimization of internal environmental management. We are making greater use of renewable energies and reducing CO2 emissions by consistently conserving resources and promoting climate-friendly mobility. Environmental issues in our own operations fall within the remit of the Chief Operating Officer and are the responsibility of Group Procurement. For the time being, the focus is on our largest core market, Austria. To support the existing energy monitoring system, we intend to introduce an EMAS-certified environmental management system by 2025 at the latest and have already made significant preparations for this and built up specialist expertise with the aim of being recognized as an EMAS company by the end of 2024. 

The basis of our internal environmental management is our commitment to the Paris climate targets, which we have operationalized with an initial milestone and action plan for all sales locations in Austria in 2022. This plan includes the following cornerstones: 

  • Purchase of exclusively eco-label 46 green electricity starting in 2024 
  • Increase in energy efficiency in buildings by at least 33% compared to 2019 by 2040 
  • Expansion of photovoltaic capacity to at least 600 kWp by 2035 (status 2022: 280 kWp) 
  • Phase out of all oil and gas heating by 2035 at the latest 
  • Conversion to 100% e-cars in the vehicle fleet by 2030 at the latest. 

With these measures, we aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our distribution buildings by around 71% by 2040. Since we continue to rely on district heating, but this currently always includes a fossil component, a reduction of 100% is not currently feasible. As we continue to green our district heating networks, our climate performance will also steadily improve. More details can be found in our annual sustainability report  (see download area).  

The UNIQA photovoltaic offensive

In mid-2020, we launched the UNIQA photovoltaic offensive with the aim of decisively advancing the expansion of photovoltaics in Austria. In 2022, a further 5 sales locations were equipped with solar power systems between 5 and 12 kWp (total addition: approx. 45 kWp). Together with the systems installed in 2021, a total of 17 new photovoltaic systems with a total output of around 230 kWp were commissioned within 2 years. The ambitious target of the offensive of 20 systems and 250 kWp by the end of 2022 was nevertheless narrowly missed due to construction delays. However, the photovoltaic offensive was only the starting signal for an extensive expansion of renewable energies. According to our new strategy, we will more than double the total solar power capacity on our roofs from currently around 280 kWp to over 600 kWp by 2040 and cover at least 10% of our annual electricity consumption with energy produced in-house. For 2023 alone, an addition of at least 150 kWp is already in the pipeline. In the procurement of the plants, we continue to consciously pay attention to regional value creation. For example, only Austrian inverters are used. In turn, only European quality products are used for the modules. We will also push the expansion of photovoltaic systems in our markets in the CEE region and draw up a long-term strategy for this purpose. But UNIQA is not only fully committed to renewable energies in its own production: Since 2018, we have also only accepted offers of 100 percent green electricity from external energy suppliers for all our locations in Austria. From 2024, a further tightening will follow by joining the Green Finance Alliance: Only certified eco-label 46 green electricity will be purchased, which specifies the strictest requirements for green electricity. 

We save CO2 wherever possible

In order to show solidarity with the country and the population in view of the tense energy supply situation, we put together a winter package in the fall of 2022 to save energy- We reduced the switch-on time of our advertising lighting - the façade lighting in the UNIQA Tower was switched off completely except for special days, deactivated any infrared emitters in smoking areas as well as steam humidifiers in ventilation systems and, as far as possible, lowered the room temperatures in less frequented rooms. 

E-mobility at UNIQA

The ambitious goal of UNIQA's fleet management is to reduce the CO2 emissions of the company fleet in Austria - which currently comprises 148 vehicles - to 40 grams per kilometer by the end of 2024. While an average value of 95 grams was achieved in 2020, we were already able to reduce this to 69 grams in 2022. The fleet currently comprises 41 electric vehicles and 33 hybrid vehicles. No more diesel vehicles will be purchased, and as of 2023.

The expansion of the e-charging infrastructure at our sites is in full swing, and we have installed e-charging stations at 39 sales locations. A total of 81 wallboxes with 133 charging points have been integrated so far, and the total installed charging capacity is around 1,900 kW. In 2023, we plan to install e-charging stations at all new locations and to increase the charging infrastructure at our provincial headquarters in order to give employees the opportunity to charge at their workplace. In 2023, we will provide mobile e-charging units in Austria for charging at home and reimburse employees for electricity consumption. We also promote other forms of e-mobility in a targeted manner; modern e-scooters and e-bikes are available to our employees at headquarters and at several other locations for smaller business trips.

Introduction of an environmental management system in accordance with EMAS

Building on our sustainability strategy, the measures already taken and, not least, by joining the Green Finance Alliance, UNIQA will introduce an environmental management system in accordance with EMAS at its Austrian location by the end of 2024.   

EMAS, the Eco Management and Audit Scheme, is an EU regulation for the voluntary improvement of operational environmental performance. Key areas such as energy efficiency, emissions, material efficiency, waste generation, water consumption and biodiversity, as well as their upstream and downstream processes, are considered and evaluated. The environmental program drawn up on the basis of this analysis contains specific environmental targets that are in line with our environmental policy. As environmental protection is an integral part of our corporate culture, transparency and internal and external communication play a key role. Regular internal and external audits ensure the effectiveness of the environmental management system and compliance with all environmentally relevant legal requirements. In this way, we set a good example and continue to successively reduce the ecological footprint of our own operations. 

Corporate carbon footprint

UNIQA's Corporate Carbon Footprint (CCF) is compiled annually t on the basis of available energy consumption and environmental data. This quantifies the greenhouse gas emissions of the activities at the headquarters and includes the company-related and relevant emissions in CO2 equivalents. In total, the calculation includes the main locations in 17 UNIQA countries. The CCF includes all emissions that occur directly in the company (Scope 1) and indirect emissions from the purchase of electricity and heat (Scope 2). In addition, further indirect emissions from business travel (air and rail travel) are taken into account (see download area).