Carbon footprint calculation in the insurance sector

Customer: BKK ProVita

Category: Insurance

Date: May 2018

Company Website

BKK ProVita is active within the insurance sector. It is a nationwide open, statutory health insurance with 14 locations and five field sales offices in Germany. Its head office is in Bergkirchen (near Munich). The health insurance cares for about 120,000 insured persons throughout Germany and has approx. 240 employees.In addition to conventional services, the BKK ProVita also offers services for alternative cures and promotes holistic health in harmony of body, soul and spirit. It supports healthy lifestyle and plant-based nutrition.

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At BKK ProVita, they are convinced that holistic health can only flourish in a healthy environment. That’s why it cares a lot about environmental protection and sustainability. Therefore, the company acts climate-neutral.
Andreas Schöfbeck,


‘With the help of the DFGE and the calculation of the carbon footprint of our company, we were able to lead the way in terms of sustainability – because unlike in other industries, a carbon footprint determination in the insurance sector is hardly taking place.”


Extension of Corporate Sustainability Strategy

The BKK ProVita is the first (and so far, only) health insurance in Germany that has created a ‘Balance for the Common Good’ and is thus part of the ‘Economy for the Common Good’ (an alternative economy model in which the primary focus of [entrepreneurial] actions is on the promotion of the common good).

The BKK ProVita’s first ‘Balance for the Common Good’ does not include any detailed disclosures and data regarding the energy use and CO2 emissions. The consideration of this aspect is in the insurance sector still in its early stages. One reason may be the lack of commitment by key stakeholders. While within other sectors (e. g. automotive) customers are increasingly requiring the disclosure of sustainability-relevant aspects (including CO2 emissions) of their suppliers, such a structure is not discernible within the insurance sector. If an insurance company discloses such data, this is usually driven intrinsically with the commitment of the top management.

Calculating the carbon footprint of an insurance company means a challenge because such an organization does not have a resource- or energy-intensive production. Due to the service function, emissions are mainly emitted by the fleet, the buildings, the required energy, the employees’ arrival at the locations and the investments made.

The resulting greenhouse gases are often not as easy to calculate as for a pure production plant. The reason is the method of calculation: By using the TopDown method, areas that cause a lot of emissions in the manufacturing sector can be calculated relatively quickly through using the respective energy source. For an insurance company, however, more data is needed to determine the relevant factors of emissions.


Carbon management supplements the corporate sustainability strategy

Sustainability has a high priority at BKK ProVita and is already integrated into the daily business. Looking to the core business, a central idea of sustainability is already pursued there: the promotion, maintenance and restoration of human health. In line with the motto ‘health can only flourish in a healthy environment’, the BKK ProVita implemented further sustainability measures in addition to the published ‘Balance for the Common Good’ (e. g. climate neutrality, procurement of green electricity, low-emission fleet, etc.).

In 2017, this pool of measures was expanded to include the calculation of the companies’ carbon footprint. When calculating the Corporate Carbon Footprint, all climate-relevant greenhouse gases emitted by the business activities of the company and its locations are recorded. The period relevant for the calculation refers to the calendar year 2016 (January 1st to December 31st).

By calculating and disclosing the corporate carbon footprint, the BKK ProVita continues to occupy a leading position in sustainability in its sector. The DFGE supported the BKK ProVita in this project and calculated the carbon footprint for the health insurance company. The goal of the project was to calculate the first corporate carbon footprint for the BKK ProVita.

The selection of the partner for the calculation of the carbon footprint was for the BKK ProVita important in order to ensure a high quality and comprehensive investigation depth. DFGE’s twenty years of experience in life cycle assessment and carbon footprint calculation met the requirements of the health insurance. DFGE uses its TopDown Approach for reducing time and efforts for data collection: Emission hot spots with a large contribution and big leverage are identified, which are assessed more closely in an iterative and recursive process. Thus, valid results with a low uncertainty bandwidth can be gathered within just a few weeks, including the relevant up- and downstream emissions.


Continuous improvement of the corporate sustainability performance

By disclosing emission-related data, various measures can be taken at both strategic and operational levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the analysis of such aspects allows an improved understanding of how to adapt and increase the various sustainability efforts. As a result, the corporate sustainability performance can be continuously improved. To compensate its CO2 emissions, the BKK ProVita is involved in climate protection projects in developing countries according to the Gold Standard. The compensation was made in cooperation with the non-profit organization ‘Klima ohne Grenzen’ (climate with no limits).

For the next two years, DFGE will calculate the corporate carbon footprint of the BKK ProVita. The carbon footprint calculated in 2017 (for the year 2016) thus is the basis for future improvement measures. In addition, the disclosure of these data fulfils internal and external communication requirements and underlines the climate-neutral action by the health insurance company.

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