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Irish government launches first green procurement plan

23 January 2012

The Irish government has launched Ireland’s first action plan on green procurement, entitled Green Tenders, with the overall objective to assist public authorities in aiming for green public procurement (GPP). Public authorities are major consumers, spending some €14 billion annually. Ireland’s public sector has considerable leverage to stimulate the marketplace in favour of the provision of more resource-efficient, less polluting, goods, services and works.

The plan would see public authorities give priority to environmentally friendly projects and make purchases that stimulate the green market. According to the plan, "By using their purchasing power to choose, goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact, public authorities can make an important contribution towards local, national and international sustainability goals.”

The action plan focuses on eight priority areas: Construction, Energy, Transport, Food and Catering Services, Cleaning Products and Services, Paper, Uniforms and Textiles, and ICT. The government officials behind the plan describe it as, "a major milestone, not just in effectively introducing a sustainable development mindset within public procurement practices, but also in ensuring that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely."

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UK councils pledge to implement sustainable timber product procurement

20 January 2012

Councils across the UK are making a pledge to procure their forest products responsibly, as part of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) What Wood You Choose? campaign. Currently more than 1.5 million cubic metres of timber imported into the UK is from illegal sources, with local authorities often neglecting to keep records of the timber products they buy. To address this, the campaign encourages local authorities to make a pledge to improve their timber purchasing.

There are three levels of pledges, bronze, silver and gold. To make a gold pledge, the council must ensure that it will only buy recycled, certified or sustainable and legal timber products across all its departments and is required to set up a recording and monitoring system to ensure forest products it procures meet the requirements of its policy.

Several councils have developed case studies to demonstrate the impressive steps they are taking. Examples include the Highland Council, which makes sure it sources only FSC-certified timber for its house-building, buys only recycled and FSC paper, and plans to use wood chip in its 20 biomass boilers and Glasgow Council, which uses locally-sourced FSC timber for the construction of its council houses.

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Commission opens consultation on delivering more sustainable consumption and production

17 January 2012

On 11 January the European Commission launched a new consultation on Sustainable Consumption and Production, including GPP measures. This consultation brings into focus key questions, which will inform the direction of EU-wide policy over coming years in the several areas.

The questions relate to sustainable consumption and production and sustainable industrial policy, green public procurement, improving the environmental performance of products and improving the environmental performance of organisations. The use of Product Environmental Footprints, preventing greenwash and the development of common methodologies for life-cycle costing are amongst the specific topics covered.

Respondents can choose to complete the entire questionnaire or focus on one or more areas of interest. The background document and questionnaire are available online. The consultation runs until 3 April 2012 and contributions are invited from all interested parties.

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EU Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe to focus on improving efficiency in product life-cycle

16 January 2012

The European Commission’s Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe seeks to outline how a more resource-efficient and low-carbon economy by 2020 can be achieved, with a strong focus on encouraging behavioural change among consumers. The Roadmap integrates a number of policy initiatives with the goal of transforming the existing EU market, with better efficiency throughout the life-cycle of a product a key component.

From the perspective of sustainable and efficient production and consumption, the document highlights better efficiency measures for each step of the life of a product, from design and production to marketing. The document recommends that fiscal incentives and funding should be developed in Member States to encourage businesses to improve their resource efficiency on a systemic level.

Also, the reduction of hazardous substances in products or the reuse of waste and by-products are measures proposed to reward companies that invest in innovative products. Changing consumer habits is another core element, with recommendations that adequate incentives to inform consumers on resource-efficient products through environmental information and pricing are put in place by 2020. Sustainable growth will only be reached through cooperation among public and private stakeholders to ensure coherent financing, policy, investment, innovation and research.

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Calculating carbon footprints for public procurement

10 January 2012

The Finnish government has released a new report entitled, Carbon Footprint Calculators for Public Procurement, as part of an EU Life project, Julia2030. Several municipalities in the Helsinki region together with the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority and a number of expert organisations are involved in the project, which aims to develop calculators for different sectors in municipalities.

The report seeks to help procurers take the climate impacts of products into account and thus increase the procurement of products with relatively low climate impacts. One subproject deals with the procurement of products, and carbon footprint calculators were developed for six product groups: office and tissue paper, laptop computers, office seating solutions, incontinence products and outdoor lighting products.

These calculators are intended for use in tender calls, as attachments that the bidders must deliver together with their bid. The carbon footprint would be used as an award criterion. The tools that will be made available include the report mentioned above, calculators, instructions for each calculator, a guidebook on climatically sound public procurement and a website. There are also plans to integrate the calculators in several public procurement cases and test these tools in calls for tender in the Julia2030 partner municipalities.

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Public procurement saves millions in districts in the UK

5 January 2012

Warwick District Council together with seven other local authorities in the UK has been recognised for saving £4.5million of public money in a national award for outstanding procurement performance. Councils from Bromsgrove, Malvern, North Warwickshire, Redditch, Warwick District, Worcester, Wychavon, and Wyre Forest took second place at the 2011 Society of Purchasing Officers’ award for Outstanding Achievement in Procurement.

Melanie Gillman Warwick District Council’s Procurement Manager said, “The benefits of the collaboration and the extensive expertise of the members of the group have allowed all councils to achieve more benefits in a much shorter time.” Examples of the group’s collaborative procurements include an award-winning £1.7m saving on insurance services and almost £500,000 saved on trade waste collection services. Local taxpayers in the collaborating areas have saved at least £4.5m since 2006.

The group was recognised for breaking down barriers between traditionally separate local authorities to collaborate, with regular meetings held at rotating venues seeing decades of professional expertise and experience held by the councils shared in an open and transparent forum. The group is able to better support small to medium enterprises, particularly local and start up businesses, to secure business from the public sector.

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Commission explores methodology for calculating environmental footprint of products

19 December 2011

Product environmental footprint is a way of measuring the environmental performance of a good or service over its life-cycle. It aims to give an account of the most relevant impacts of that product, based on scientific information.

The European Commission’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) has developed a draft methodology for the calculation of product footprints.The methodology builds on the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook, as well as other methodological standards and guidance documents.

Pilot tests are underway in a number of sectors, including agriculture, retail, construction, chemicals, ICT, food, manufacturing (footwear, televisions, paper). Final guidance will be published in 2012. The Commission, in collaboration with Confederation of European Paper Industries, is also testing the process aimed at developing Product Footprint Category Rules for paper.

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RPN’s Green Building Initiative helps green existing buildings

14 December 2011

The Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN), with support from the US Environmental Protection Agency, has launched a new project to help public agencies, green building professionals and facility managers shrink the environmental footprint of their existing buildings, while cutting costs.

RPN is holding both online and in-person workshops designed to demonstrate how to increase energy efficiency, reduce waste and improve indoor air quality by purchasing “green” building maintenance products. These include, ENERGY STAR-qualified LED lighting, HVAC equipment, on-site renewable energy systems and GREENGUARD-certified flooring and adhesives.

Two webinars have already taken place and the outcomes are available online. Different US states are grouped into regions, with some qualifying for free technical assistance to help advance their high-profile green building initiatives. Qualifying projects must be likely to yield measurable environmental results in reducing energy, water, or pollutants.

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Building SPP taps into green procurement potential

6 December 2011

The threat posed by climate change demands the development of innovative, low carbon solutions for lighting, vehicles, and heating and cooling systems. Since European public authorities purchase large volumes of these products and services amounting to two billion euro per year, there is enormous, largely untapped potential for progress in the area of public procurement.

The Building SPP project, funded by the LIFE+ Programme, aims to promote sustainable procurement practices in Portugal and Greece. Sustainable procurement can play an important role in organizations at national and local level. The project’s main objective is to build capacity in sustainable procurement by assisting public authorities in setting up a procurement strategy.

It further seeks to encourage communication at various stages of the procurement process, promoting cooperation among public authority procurers and greater market engagement between public authorities and suppliers. Sustainable procurement can help organisations to meet commitments related to social, environmental and economic policies, and its benefits include money and energy savings.

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Lithuania joins the drive towards lifecycle costing and assessment

30 November 2011

Green public procurement has gained an influential supporter. The Central Project Management Agency (CPMA) is the central purchasing body in Lithuania and currently manages framework contracts for over 600 public authorities. As an avid promoter of environmentally friendly public procurement, the CPMA has decided to go green and train its staff in the use of lifecycle costing, CO2 assessments and lifecycle assessments.

In November 2011, the CPMA teamed up with ICLEI and SYKE to hold a three-day training course discussing and testing current approaches, guidance and tools. The event was an outstanding success, providing those present with practical information as well as inspiration. “The topics are very interesting and of very real scope, especially for future approaches in public procurement” said one participant.

Some of the tools explored at the workshop include the SMART SPP LCC-CO2 tool and the JUHILAS carbon footprint calculator, invaluable in the move towards green public procurement. The tools will be available at ICLEI’s online SMART SPP resource centre which launches next week. The CPMA aims to use lifecycle costing in upcoming frameworks and intends to modify its operational manuals to include information gained from the training.

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