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Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre

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24 July 2014

Revised WTO Agreement on Government Procurement broadens access to public contracts

The revised World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) entered into force on 6 April 2014, following approval of the Protocol of Amendment by Israel on 7 March. The new GPA is intended to streamline and modernise its predecessor, agreed in 2004. It includes new, simplified rules on transparency and for the first time considers the use of electronic procurement tools.

The Agreement affects local as well as national governments, with an increased number of central and regional government agencies now committed to opening their public procurement markets to foreign bidders. In line with WTO principles of openness and non-discrimination, the GPA focuses on interoperability between different electronic procurement tools. Parties must ensure that their systems are compatible with each other so as not to prejudice potential bidders.

Negotiating parties also agreed on ambitious work plans for the future, including sustainable procurement and support for small and medium-sized enterprises. EU Commissioner Michel Barnier welcomed the revised GPA, saying: “It will […] make public procurement rules in the GPA jurisdictions more transparent and predictable, in line with the spirit of the recently adopted reforms of EU public procurement rules.”

For more information, click here.
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22 July 2014

Austrian database provides information on green cleaning products

The Vienna Environment Consultancy, in cooperation with the Lower Austria Energy and Environment Agency, has launched an online database which rates and recommends products according to their green credentials. The ÖkoRein portal contains more than 500 recommended products for use in households and the commercial sector.

Products are divided into two different categories: green is used to signify products which cause the least damage to the environment and human health, while yellow products (suitable for commercial use) are deemed as having a moderate impact. All detergents and cleaning agents that carry the EU Ecolabel, the Austrian Ecolabel or the Nordic Swan are also classified by the Consultancy as environmentally and health-friendly.

The database is regularly updated and is intended as a complementary tool to eco-labelling. It provides additional environmental information on product categories that are not yet covered by European and Austrian eco-labels, enabling purchasers to choose green alternatives in a broader range of cleaning and laundry products.

For more information, click here [in German].

18 July 2014

City of Vantaa shares its experiences of ESCO procurement

The Finnish city of Vantaa has published a useful summary document sharing its experiences of sustainable energy service contracting (ESCO) to improve energy efficiency in 14 buildings across the city. While being honest about the difficulties involved, the case study shows final award criteria of 20-30 percent energy savings and provides useful tips for other ESCO procurements.

Vantaa aims to achieve savings of up to 30,000 MWh across the 14 buildings over the course of the contract, equivalent to over €2,000 per year. The €1.5 million of project costs must be covered by savings realised within the agreed contract period. This funding model was a central aspect of the tender, with suppliers given room to provide their own energy-saving calculation models. Overall savings will be monitored on an annual basis and profits shared between the ESCO Service provider and the City of Vantaa if energy savings exceed the targets.

Key lessons from the project include the value of investing in a pilot project beforehand and ensuring an open and constructive dialogue with potential suppliers throughout the process to avoid potential misunderstanding. Publishing bidders’ questions and answers online was also recommended to keep the process transparent and all parties on an equal footing. For Energy Specialist Marita Tammen, who had joint responsibility for the project, the key to success lies in carefully defining project criteria to ensure they are fair and seeking legal advice to guarantee compliance with public procurement law.

For more information, click here.

15 July 2014

German Interior Ministry offers free training on sustainable procurement

German procurement officers at federal, state and local levels as well as those involved in public purchasing on behalf of municipal enterprises, universities, churches and other institutions are invited to sign up for a one day training session on sustainable procurement. The trainings are being offered by the Acquisitions Office of the German Ministry for the Interior (Bescha) as part of an attempt to integrate sustainable purchasing practices into public procurement.

Interested parties are invited to email a signed agreement and module selection to Modules on offer for participants include a compulsory introduction, two recommended sessions on the legislative framework for and strategic and innovative dimensions of sustainable procurement, and a choice of specialised modules on climate friendly procurement, catering, work clothes, wooden furniture and office appliances.

Sessions can be hosted for free at Bescha’s offices in Bonn (Germany). Alternatively, two facilitators will deliver training in-house in exchange for travel and accommodation expenses. In order to keep costs down, agencies are encouraged to combine training sessions for up to a maximum of 25 people. The scheduled training dates have been made publicly available on the Ministry website to allow organisations to link up more easily.

For more information, click here.
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10 July 2014

Ljubljana announced as European Green Capital 2016

Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, has been selected as European Green Capital for 2016. Janez Potočnik, the EU’s Commissioner for the Environment, presented the award to a delegation from the city at a ceremony in Copenhagen (Denmark), the current European Green Capital. Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Potočnik said: “I very much look forward to [Ljubljana’s] year as the 2016 European Green Capital. All of the finalists of this award provide us with valuable real-life examples of how respect for the environment, excellent quality of life and economic growth can all be successfully combined.”

The city received particular praise for its sustainability strategy, which follows an integrated approach to environmental management. This includes an Environmental Protection Programme, a Sustainable Mobility Plan, a Sustainable Energy Action Plan and an Electromobility Strategy. Ljubljana has also shown its commitment to sustainable and green procurement, which has been implemented for 70 percent of all city purchases. The local Ministry of Finance, supported by Umanotera, is a partner in the GPP 2020 project. The city has saved a considerable amount of energy and CO2 through their GPP tenders.

The European Green Capital Award is an annual event that promotes and rewards the efforts of cities committed to improving the urban environment. Winning cities demonstrate a record of achieving high environmental standards and commit to ambitious goals for future progress in sustainable development.

For more information, click here.

8 July 2014

Scottish Procurement Reform Act obliges public sector to consider social and environmental factors

A new Scottish Act of Parliament, which received Royal Ascent on 17 June, puts pressure on public sector organisations to include broader social and environmental considerations in procurement processes. The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act obliges local authorities, before carrying out a procurement, to consider whether it can be used to "improve the economic, social, and environmental wellbeing of the authority’s area, facilitate the involvement of small and medium enterprises, third sector bodies and supported businesses in the process, and promote innovation".

Specifically, they are asked to consider how the procurement can be used to reduce inequality in the local area. A new 'community benefit requirement' requiring contractors to provide opportunities and training locally would also have to be considered for any procurement worth more than £4 million. If such a requirement was not included, the relevant authority would be expected to provide a justification of its reasons.

"If and when the new rules are brought into force, the Act has the potential to transform public procurement in Scotland," said procurement expert Jamie McRorie of the law firm Pinsent Masons, “Not only will contracting authorities now be obliged to consider the social impact of their purchasing requirements, the Act also introduces a new lower threshold for the effective review and challenge of procurement decisions. Scottish contracting authorities will have far less of a 'safe harbour' when conducting below threshold procurements."

For more information, click here.

3 July 2014

European Commission seeks input on procurement of bio-based products

To help promote a bio-economy in Europe, the European Commission is supporting the development of standards, labels and certifications promoting the public procurement of bio-based products. The term ‘‘bio-based product’’ refers to products, other than food or feed, that are derived, in whole or in significant part, from biomass. In many cases, they may serve as an alternative to existing fossil-based products.

The “Open-Bio” project (financed by the Commission's 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development) is conducting a series of surveys among relevant stakeholder groups, including citizens, businesses, civil society and the public sector to ensure the effectiveness of these measures. These will directly inform measures aimed at supporting the public procurement of bio-based products.

The first survey in the series targets experts in the field of public procurement. Among other things, it explores to what extent existing approaches to green public procurement or innovation-oriented public procurement might be utilized for this purpose.

For more information, click here.
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2 July 2014

ICLEI, UNEP and Keiti role in supporting sustainable procurement highlighted by the Guardian

The important work of ICLEI, UNEP and the Korea Environmental Industry and Technology Institute (Keiti) in launching the Sustainable Public Procurement Programme has been highlighted by the Guardian newspaper, in an article that claims that "government spending could save the world". Author Erica Gies argues that through procurement, governments have the power to mainstream sustainable products and services, pointing to recent success stories as evidence.

"Their goal", Ms. Gies writes in reference to ICLEI, UNEP and Keiti, "is to help governments around the world make this shift [to sustainable procurement] via education and support, offering access to experts and tools". The article goes on to say that "Europe has benefited from a close collaboration with ICLEI, a 20-year expert on sustainable procurement. In 2004 ICLEI launched the European-focused Procura+ campaign to create methodology to help European authorities to implement SPP in six product groups... Thanks in part to ICLEI’s work, SPP in Europe now has agreed-upon criteria for 21 product and service groups."

Mark Hidson, Deputy Region Director of ICLEI Europe, is quoted in reference to ICLEI’s work on introducing innovation to public procurers. Speaking on the Procurement of Innovation Platform project, Mr. Hidson said: “It encourages innovation through procurement, bringing new products and services onto the market that meet the needs of users, public authorities, and societies.”

To read the article, click here.

1 July 2014

Latest news on sustainable procurement from ICLEI out now

The July edition of the Sustainable Procurement Update has been published, containing information on new resources and opportunities for sustainable and innovative procurement, as well as capacity building and network events.

This issue focuses on the launch of a PPI Guide to help public authorities benefit from innovation procurement. The SP Update also provides the latest information on the innovative and sustainable tenders published by the GPP 2020 and INNOCAT projects, as well as the market engagement activities currently underway in the ENIGMA project.

New resources in addition to opportunities to learn about clean vehicle procurement and see clean vehicles in practice are featured in the newsletter. The information is supplemented by news about the National Agency of Public Contracting (Paraguay) joining the Procura+ Sustainable Procurement Campaign.

For more information, click here.

26 June 2014

Measures to reduce energy consumption in buildings outlined in new project leaflet

To reduce high-energy consumption in buildings, the iNSPiRe project has created easy to install renovation packages that can be applied to residential and office properties. The packages work through replacing old, centralised heating and cooling systems (such as oil boilers) with systems that make use of renewable energy sources. Dubbed "plug and play" packages, in most cases building occupants can remain inside during installation. A new leaflet has been launched outlining the work of the project.

Social housing sites in Ludwigsburg (Germany), Madrid (Spain) and Verona (Italy) have agreed to act as demonstration buildings for the project. To assess the impact of the renovations on the buildings, energy audits will be carried out before and after the iNSPiRe technology is installed.

The four-year long, EU-funded project also aims to lower energy costs for building users and help reduce the harmful emissions older buildings currently produce. The project has set a goal of 50 percent energy consumption reduction in older buildings. Sustainable lighting and the use of information and communication technologies to reduce energy consumption is also incorporated during renovation.

For more information, click here.
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