Green public procurement explained
Green public procurement covers six distinct topics. For each product group cited in the environmental criteria documents, there are specific criteria and suggestions to help you make a more environmentally friendly choice.
Energy-conscious and climate-conscious procurement
By considering what you purchase, you can contribute to energy conservation, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and the transition to renewable energy sources. You can do this by challenging suppliers to minimise greenhouse gas emissions in their production processes, use energy-efficient appliances, minimise their transport movements, and use renewable energy. In addition, you can also take a critical look at your own energy supply and transport policies.
If much of your work involves buildings, you can make use of Energy Service Companies (ESCos). These are companies that take on the installation, maintenance and management of building systems (including climate-control systems). They provide guaranteed energy savings, and even arrange the associated financing so you don't have to deal with capital outlay issues.
The benefits of ESCos are:
- ESCos have expertise in systems of this kind, so you do not have to invest in the requisite technical knowledge yourself;
- ESCos finance system installation;
- Performance agreements on energy conservation can be negotiated with an ESCo;
- An ESCo can be eligible for subsidies and tax arrangements;
- ESCos can offer a complete service package.
Environmentally friendly materials and raw materials
As a pprocurerer, you can opt for sustainably produced raw materials, products made from recyclable materials, or products that are produced without the use of harmful substances. In this way you can contribute to a more sustainable management of resources, to a reduced environmental impact, and to the ready availability of raw materials for current and future generations. The environmental criteria documents contain ideas for dealing effectively with materials and raw materials. It is also possible to opt for a more ambitious path involving procurement of biobased products or circular procurement.
Protecting water and soil
As a procurer, you can do your best to minimise adverse environmental impacts on water and soil as much as possible. In the groundwork, road building and hydraulic engineering sector (GRH) as well as in construction and landscaping, the relationship with water and soil is often very direct. When contracting for road construction and maintenance, for example, you should aim to minimise water, soil and air pollution and to restrict any effects on groundwater levels as much as possible. You may wish to purchase products that have a limited "water footprint" or products that have a positive impact on soil quality.
Focus on quality of life
It may be necessary to purchase products or works that have an effect (possibly temporary) on the quality of life of people in the immediate living environment. This might involve noise pollution, vibration, unpleasant odours and air pollution, or issues such as litter, weeds, graffiti, and so on. In the environmental criteria documents you will find further details on how to prevent disruption to the living environment, as much as possible. In addition, timely and effective communication with local residents and stakeholders is often crucial.
Care for the natural environment, biodiversity and space
As a procurer, you can help to create a positive impact on the natural environment and on biodiversity by seeking solutions that serve several different interests at the same time. For instance, some local authorities use green LED streetlights as these have a less disruptive effect on flora and fauna. Another approach is to install green roofs.
Health and welfare must come first
The increased complexity of supply chains and the international nature of production make it difficult to identify the working conditions under which a given product is manufactured. Similarly, it is difficult to determine whether any harmful substances are used in this process, or whether animal welfare has been sufficiently safeguarded. In the agricultural sector, the mining sector and the garment industry good working conditions are not guaranteed. Furthermore, the abuse of animals is common in the fur and leather sector, the fishing industry, and in agriculture. As a procurer, you can impose requirements to promote the health and welfare of people and animals anywhere in the world.
Sustainable GRH is an approach that engages all phases of a public procurement process and provides scope for sustainable innovation. The principle here involves taking the sustainability aspects of a civil engineering work's lifecycle into consideration. Sustainable GRH involves a coalition of market players, public contract clients, and research institutes aimed at creating sustainable Railway, Groundwork, Road Building and Hydraulic Engineering. Together, they develop a unified approach to achieve a uniform approach to the market.