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Austrian Procurement Agency opts for TCO Certified IT equipment

27 December 2012

Austria’s Federal Procurement Agency (BBG) has announced that a major procurement for notebooks and tablets, scheduled for 2013, will include sustainability requirements based on certification label TCO. TCO certification works to ensure that the manufacturing, use and recycling of IT products are carried out with regard to environmental, social and economic responsibility.

Austria’s Federal Procurement Agency, BBG, manages purchasing for 450 000 public sector employees across all state-run agencies. Marcus Serringer, Team Leader for IT-procurement at BBG, said: “In our ongoing dialogue with our customers, we are frequently asked to include international standards for ergonomic and environmental requirements when we tender for products. TCO Certified is an important tool for us to make sure we’re meeting our organizational goals for quality as well as the environmental demands of our customers.”

“This step taken by the Austrian Federal Procurement Agency is further proof that purchasers want IT products that meet their sustainability demands, says Maria Sjölund, Market Developer at TCO Development. The criteria used in TCO certification is available online, and includes categories such as corporate social responsibility, environmental management systems, hazardous substances, energy efficiency, ergonomics, work environment, health and safety and more.

For more information, click here.

Call for submission of bids to host the the 9th EcoProcura Conference 2014

20 December 2012

ICLEI – Local Governments for sustainability are inviting European cities to submit a bid to host the 2014 edition of the EcoProcura conference. The ninth in the series, the conferences seek to generate greater awareness and motivate and encourage people, both from a practical and political sense, to move forward on the issue of sustainable procurement (at the local, national and international level). Through doing so, the conferences contribute to the mainstreaming of sustainable public procurement.

The conference usually lasts for a maximum of 2.5 days and allow for pre and side-events to take place. It can be combined with national initiatives, projects, and product exhibitions/trade fairs related to sustainable procurement. The preliminary focus of the 2013 conference is to present and assess the implications of the new European Public Procurement Directives, discuss how public procurement can stimulate innovation, and provide training and capacity building. ICLEI will lead the development of the EcoProcura conference in close cooperation with the host organisation.

Around 200-300 participants from over 40 countries attend the conferences to interact and share their vision, knowledge and analyse the latest solutions on sustainable procurement. This includes purchasers from local governments, regional and national governments and other national and European public institutions as well as businesses and policy-makers. EcoProcura conferences are also the ideal opportunity for the host to promote its own activities to a wide audience interested and specialised in these topics.

To view the call, click here.

New publication explores public and private sector procurement in Brazil

18 December 2012

A new publication on sustainable procurement, Sustainable Procurement: the power of public and private consumption for a green and inclusive economy, has been released in Portuguese. The publication has been developed by ICLEI SAMS in partnership with Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV), a well known university in Brazil.

The document aims to address the synergies between both public and private sectors and explores ways in which the private sector can foster innovation and the inclusion of SMEs in Brazil.

It is not a manual or guide, but a publication with the objective of reaching a larger and more general public, including the private sector and academia. A successful launch event took place earlier this month.

To view the publication, click here.

Report finds public purchasing has the power to influence the market

14 December 2012

A new report analysing local governments’ experiences of energy efficient purchasing (EEP) has concluded that EEP policies and programs can be an effective way to promote energy efficient products by leveraging a government’s purchasing power and influence. The types of products purchased by governments can strongly influence manufacturers, as between 12 and 20 percent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) passes through its public procurement systems.

The report further found that as a big and visible consumer, actions taken by a government to improve their energy efficiency can strongly influence its citizens. Despite willingness, local governments face a number of barriers to enacting EEP. Limited financial resources, restrictive policies and procedures, a lack of incentives, weak governance and other issues present challenges to EEP take up.

Analysis of 10 global case studies, as well as interviews with experts, showed that EEP remains a popular policy instrument being implemented or considered in mostly developed and middle-income countries. The report was published by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), a global knowledge and technical assistance program administered by the World Bank.

To view the report, click here.

Public Sector Procurement Directive subject of debate and revisions

12 December 2012

On 18 December the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) will vote on a series of amendments to the proposed new public sector Procurement Directive. The European Council has been working in parallel to develop a compromise text, and published its latest draft on 30 November. The Committee of the Regions has also tabled a number of amendments to the proposal.

Several areas remain controversial. In particular, different approaches have been taken to incorporate the decision of the European Court of Justice in Case C-368/10 (the ‘Dutch coffee’ case) on the use of social and environmental criteria and labels. The Court held that it was acceptable to refer to aspects of the production process in contract award criteria, even where these do not form part of the material substance of the goods being purchased. This opens the way for award criteria such as fair trade working conditions, organic agriculture or use of energy-efficient production techniques. Recital 41 of the Council’s draft sets out some restrictions on this ability.

There is also on-going debate about the best approach to take to life-cycle costing and violations of social and environmental laws by tenderers. The Commission’s draft included a narrow scope for excluding operators based on breaches of tax and social security obligations, or environmental and social conventions which have been ratified by all EU Member States. A number of changes to the Innovation Partnership procedure have been tabled by both IMCO and the Council, aimed at making the procedure more flexible.

For the full analysis, click here.

Ihobe publishes guide to help local authorities continue GPP practices

6 December 2012

Ihobe has published a guide to help public administrations find arguments and strategies to continue including an environmental perspective in their procurement practices, enabling them to continue using natural resources more efficiently, as well as achieving greater economic efficiency. The inclusion of environmental considerations in public procurement has often suffered from the preconception that buying green is more expensive - in times of austerity and public cuts, this may cause policy makers and public servants to face difficulties keeping the requirement of environmentally preferable products and services.

However, this prejudice is often incorrect. In many cases greener solutions are simply not more expensive, in others savings are achieved over time, the long-term cost reductions compensating the higher purchasing price. In some cases, it is the way the procurement itself is conducted (beyond the definition of tenders) that can help administrations introduce environmental purchasing criteria in an economically efficient way.

The guide (elaborated by Ecoinstitut) compiles, for the first time in one document, the main strategies to support green procurement as a tool to improve public sector efficiency without sacrificing the environment, and as a means to achieve economic savings at the same time. For each of the strategies, real examples are presented, including in quantitative terms, whenever possible, the environmental benefits and economic savings that the strategy or action achieved. The Guide aims to inspire policy makers and support technical staff to introduce measures in their own administration.

To download the Guide, click here[in Spanish].

GPP criteria for windows and external doors discussed at Brussels meeting

4 December 2012

The second meeting for the revision of the GPP criteria for windows and external doors, facilitating technical discussions on the revised GPP criteria and the proposed benchmarks and verification procedures, has concluded. A variety of stakeholders, including representatives from the Joint Research Centre, AEA Technology, the European Builders Confederation, the Forest Stewardship Council IC and many more, offered valuable critiques and suggestions. Selection criteria was discussed first, with several means to verify “high quality work” proposed.

National quality schemes, air tightness testing (including thermal imaging and blower door pressurisation tests), as well as use of European standards for accreditation were suggested. In terms of energy performance, a distinction was made between “core criteria”, which is applicable to all Member States and “comprehensive criteria”, which is recommended for advanced Member States or purchasing authorities. Two options were presented: use of the cost effectiveness methodology, and the improvement of the thermal parameters of the windows and doors. It was decided that the latter option should only be used in cases where the former is not yet available.

Legally sourced timber was agreed upon to be a requirement, whilst the criterion on the marking of plastics was removed due to infeasibility. Hazardous substances levels, it was said, should be linked to national standards. It was also put forward that the use of zero-released hazardous substances is technically impossible to achieve. Attendees agreed that inserting a quota of recycled content for metals could have a negative effect on achieving sustainability goals, and so this requirement was removed.

To view the minutes of the meeting, click here.