Stephen Bushnell- Green Building Committee

Fireman’s Fund: Insuring Green Building

Mayor of Riverside with Department of Conservation Director Bridgett Luther

Stephen Bushnell

Alliance Advisor Steve Bushnell was one of the first to recognize the need for specialized services to support the growing green building industry.  As Senior Director of Emerging Industries at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, Bushnell developed an initial green insurance offering in 2006 based on a hypothesis (supported by initial field data) that green buildings presented lower risks, but also required coverage that included the “green features.” 

“I looked at our customers in 2006 and asked myself what things were most important to them,” says Bushnell.  That year, Fireman’s Fund became the first insurance company to offer green insurance services to the U.S. commercial marketplace, based on policies written and developed by Bushnell.  These policies have since attracted thousands of customers and millions of dollars in premiums nationwide.

“Fireman’s Fund green insurance services are unique,” Bushnell says, “because they provide for the replacement of standard building materials and systems with green ones in the event of a loss, rather than simply covering the cost of restoring a building to its original condition.”  This important distinction ensures that their clients’ investments are green now and into the future, and helps to incentivize green building practices nationwide.

Bushnell says he took a bit of a gamble in the beginning by offering lower premiums to clients utilizing sustainable building practices.  But he believes that by investing in state-of-the art electrical, plumbing and roofing systems—and by completing the commissioning process required for those investments—green building owners experience fewer incidents of risk and loss.   While company actuaries are still compiling the data, Bushnell is certain his gamble has paid off.

Bushnell highlights three areas where Fireman’s Fund is leading the greening of the insurance industry: innovative green insurance products, a commitment to sustainable business practices, and work with the Rebuilding America coalition to advance national green building legislation.

The company was the first insurer to be named an ENERGY STAR® partner.  It has three LEED® certified buildings (in Novato, California; Dallas, Texas; and St. Louis, Missouri).  The company has committed to reducing its carbon emissions 25% below 2006 levels by 2012, and has reduced its energy use by 36% since 1999.  Its commitment to sustainable business practices has won it numerous awards, including the prestigious Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), presented by Gov. Schwarzenegger and the California Environmental Protection Agency in 2008.

Finally, Bushnell and others at Fireman’s Fund are extending their expertise to help move national policy in a green direction.  Fireman's Fund and its German parent, Allianz, are involved with a national coalition, Rebuilding America, advocating a policy framework to drive energy efficiency retrofits in 50 million U.S. commercial and residential buildings by 2020.

Bushnell and others in the insurance industry face a daunting task of protecting customers against the enormous risks and uncertainties of climate change.  Through supporting green building initiatives, Fireman’s Fund is mitigating against these risks for both its customers and its business, while advancing national policy in important ways. 

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