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Construction Value Chain Consultations Workshop 1: Purchasing power: How public procurement exerts influence throughout the Construction value chain

  • Published on December 2, 2021
This workshop was the first of the 3 consultative workshops and comprised of representatives from private companies, civil society, governments, scientific and technical organisations, and the United Nations and other intergovernmental organisations. The key messages, the presentation from the workshop as well as the full list of participants is available in the workshop report.
 
Initiatives

A number of best practices and initiatives were shared during the workshop regarding the role of public procurement in the construction value chain and the influence it has on various stages of the value chain. These included:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an independent executive agency of the United States federal government involved with environmental protection matters. The EPA has developed the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program, which harnesses the power of the over 650 billon dollar federal financial resources to catalyze a more sustainable marketplace for all – reducing climate impacts, improving the health of frontline communities, preventing pollution, and increasing U.S. industry competitiveness.

The program helps U.S. federal government purchasers utilize private sector standards and ecolabels to identify and procure environmentally preferable products and services, providing a convenient and streamlined way to make sense of the often complex sustainable products marketplace. Currently there are over 400 ecolabels found in the global marketplace, which the EPP program has reduced to a recommended 48 private sector standards and ecolabels that cover 25 product categories, seven of which are in the construction sector.

Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat), The Netherlands – Encouraging innovation through circular procurement

Rijkswaterstaat is part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and responsible for the design, construction, management, and maintenance of the main infrastructure facilities in the Netherlands.

Through their work, Rijkswaterstaat is looking at how circularity is among the most important factors to reach a climate neutral construction industry. These factors include sustainable use of natural resources, conscious use of products, better recycling practices, and a focus on closing material loops.

The construction industry has an immense environmental footprint that is difficult to reduce, and current trends over the past decade have seen buildings being torn down, the waste recycled, and then used to build infrastructure; however, circularity is more than just recycling. Governments are able to play a crucial role in implementing a circular economy through policies, partnerships, and procurement.


Environmental Design Solutions – Public Procurement for Energy Efficient and Green Buildings

Environmental Design Solutions (EDS) is an Indian sustainability advisory firm focusing on the built environment. Since its inception in 2002, EDS has worked on over 350 green building and energy efficiency projects worldwide. Its team of experts converges on climate change mitigation policies, energy efficient building design, building code development, energy efficiency policy development, energy simulation, and green building certification.

When looking at Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) in the context of building design and construction, EDS presented three project schemes: greening rural housing (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Gramin), a vision and roadmap for urban housing (Lucknow Development Authority), and public procurement process for design and construction of Grid Interactive Net Zero Energy Buildings (TSREDCO).

International Institute for Sustainable Development – Mainstreaming SPP through performance-based procurement

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank whose research includes methods for governments to integrate sustainability across the procurement cycle, using public procurement to steer important economic sectors and exert influence over the construction value chain.

An emphasis is placed on how existing procurement practices and tools can be scaled up or better coordinated, and how these tools can then be replicated across borders, particularly in the global south. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more necessary to integrate sustainability in procurement today more than ever before.
 
Their work has looked globally at public procurement practices in various countries, including in Western Cape. The report discusses how public procurement is no longer a back-office function anymore, but a crucial pillar for delivering government services, and a strategic one for tackling climate change. 
 

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