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Recent Swiss building standards examine sustainable construction holistically

30 January 2014

New standards for sustainable buildings in Switzerland aim to examine sustainable construction from a social, economic and environmental point of view. The standards go beyond traditional criteria to look at a potential property in terms of its benefits for individuals and society, the economic potential of the building, and its contribution to the protection of the environment, taking into account its entire life cycle.

The stated objectives of the Sustainable Building Switzerland Standard (SNBS) are to: cover the essential points of sustainable construction in a holistic manner, promote Swiss planning and building culture, integrate proven Swiss tools and labels, and provide a planning process that can be easily adapted.

The SNBS standard was financed by the Federal Office of Energy, through the Swiss Energy Program. It builds on standards that were previously implemented, and can be used for both new buildings and existing building stock. It is hoped that the standards will be of added value for the construction and planning industry.

For more information, click here [in German].

Stakeholders invited to help set rules on environmental footprint of products

28 January 2014

The large number of green certifications available is hampering businesses’ ability to effectively promote their products as environmentally friendly, and is confusing to consumers, who are overwhelmed by the array. To solve this problem the European Commission aims to standardise the measurement of products’ environmental performance. This standard measurement will be titled Product Environmental Footprint or PEF.

Specific rules on how PEF is measured for different product groups are currently being developed. To aid with this, the European Commission is inviting stakeholders from across Europe to provide input. At present the group "feed, food, drink and related products" is slated for discussion. The deadline for applications to take part is 28 March 2014 at 17.00 CET.

This is an excellent opportunity for interested parties to help shape EU rules for years to come – all measures developed during the pilot phase will become the product rules valid under the PEF, to be used by all stakeholders in the sector. Individual companies, industrial associations or any other private, non-governmental or public organisations can volunteer to lead the process.

For more information, click here.

UNEP review of global status of SPP and GPP finds positives, barriers

23 January 2014

A global review of the degree to which sustainable public procurement (SPP) and green public procurement (GPP) are being implemented by national governments has been carried out by UNEP, detailing both positive trends and persistent barriers. Overall, there is an increased commitment to SPP/GPP compared to previous years and greater international cooperation among procurement networks, with the result being a boost to the emerging green economy.

The main barriers to the uptake of SPP/GPP include the perception that green products are more costly than conventional products, and a lack of clarity over determining the environmental credentials of one product in comparison to another. This is partly attributable to a large increase in the number of ecolabels and standards in the past years, making the market place more difficult to navigate.

The report concludes by saying that a set of internationally agreed and recognised principles and assessment systems is needed for procurement of sustainability, as well as a global set of indicators. The drivers, challenges and trends in SPP/GPP are explored in-depth within the report.

To view the document, click here.

Innovative equipment reduces number of Vaxjo deliveries by 50 percent

21 January 2014

The use of smart logistics equipment has enabled Vaxjo municipality (Sweden) to cut its delivery traffic in half, saving the council money and reducing the amount of harmful emissions released. Optimising the delivery system has led to the number of different distribution companies used falling from 73 in 2009 to just one.

Today all suppliers send goods to a distribution depot, where the frequency of deliveries is based on need (groceries, for example, are delivered more often than stationery).

A web-based ordering system provides information on upcoming purchases to the distribution centre, allowing staff to plan more effectively. Delivery routes have also been made more efficient, with the town separated into two delivery zones.

For more information, click here.

Registration opens for the final LANDMARK conference

17 January 2014

The Senator for Finances of the State of Bremen (Germany) will host the final LANDMARK Conference on 27 March 2014. The conference will address challenges surrounding verifying social responsibility, particularly in light of the recently adopted EU Procurement Directives, which strengthen the use of social criteria in public tenders. Participation is free of charge, but registration is necessary to ensure a place.

Places will be allocated on a 'first come first serve' basis and registration is open until 7 March 2014. Registration for the event is available online, as well further information about the programme and practical information. The event will be attended by key speakers in the field of sustainable public procurement, and will see a high-level roundtable discussion, as well as four workshops.

The workshops will examine: monitoring of the supply chain in Public Procurement in Scandinavia – what other European countries can learn; public procurers: how public procurers can gain competences in applying social criteria; labels, auditing systems and other schemes for reliable verification; and the why and how of fair trade cotton and supply chain justice in public procurement. The conference is held in cooperation with the ICLEI European Secretariat, the Network of Development Politics of Bremen (BeN), the Fair Cotton Procurement Project and the LANDMARK project. The event will also include the Fair Cotton Procurement Awards.

For more information, click here.

New EU procurement directives approved by the European Parliament

16 January 2014

On Wednesday 15 January the European Parliament (EP) approved the new EU Public Procurement Directives. The new legislation will replace the current directives and will be binding in all EU Member States once they have been transposed into national law. States have up to two years time for the transposition.

The overall goal of the directives is to ensure public authorities purchase best value for money and facilitate bids from SMEs. Central aspects of the new directives include the ‘most economically advantageous tender’ (MEAT) as the standard award criterion and ‘innovation partnerships’ as a mechanism for encouraging dialogue with bidders and fostering innovation procurement.

"Public procurement will no longer be a question of simply accepting the lowest price. Smart customers will work with smart suppliers to provide better solutions, better tailored to meeting customer needs in more innovative ways," said British MEP and Rapporteur Malcolm Harbour, Chairman of the EP’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. The introduction of the MEAT criterion should serve to further support the use of environmental and social criteria in public tenders.

For more information, click here.

Input sought for upcoming PPI guidance documents

15 January 2014

To further aid in the uptake of public procurement of innovation (PPI), the Procurement of Innovation Platform will publish three guidance documents. Each guide is designed to enhance public procurers’ understanding of PPI, enabling them to easily and effectively purchase innovative goods and services. Before publication, the PPI Consortium is seeking stakeholder input to further refine the guides’ content. Specific questions have been developed to help focus stakeholders' contributions; the full list of questions can be found on the PPI platform website.

Contributions are being sought until the end of February 2014. To do so, contact info@innovation-procurement.org. The first guide will give a general introduction to the topic, outlining the most effective methods of implementation. The second will focus on risk management, providing an overview in the context of effective PPI. Guidance on intellectual property forms the focus of the third guide, including how to contractually deal with new findings, insights and technologies.

Stakeholders are also invited to discuss specific topics posted on the Procurement Forum. The PPI guidance documents are being developed with support from the European Commission by the PPI Consortium, a partnership between ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, PIANOo – the Dutch Public Procurement Expertise Centre, REC – the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe and IWT – the Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology.

For more information, click here.

More efficient sustainable procurement could save Germany billions

9 January 2014

German municipalities could save billions of euros if sustainable procurement practices were implemented more efficiently, a new study from KPMG has revealed. Up to three and half percent of the country's annual purchasing costs of €480 billion could be cut through transitioning to effective sustainable procurement - a figure which would have a significant impact on public finances.

Of the 56 cities and towns surveyed, a lack of tools and know-how proved the most-frequent barrier. In many cases staff lack the skills required to effectively procure sustainably (only a third of survey respondents had the knowledge and set up needed). The inclusion of sustainable procurement in the planning and budgeting stages was also lacking in the majority of cases.

"A recurring cardinal error is the late integration of procurement and a fixation on price and less on the Life cycle costs and the actual added value of the required products and services." said Clemens Dicks, procurement consultant at KPMG. New German laws require municipalities to include ecological and social aspects into their procurement processes, providing the ideal time for municipalities to revisit their overall procurement practices, says Mr. Dicks.

The study is available to download in the SPRC Resource Centre.

Green public procurement catches on in Croatia

8 January 2014

The European Union’s newest member, Croatia, is wholeheartedly embracing the concept of green public procurement. A seminar run by GPP 2020 from 27 - 28 November 2013 aimed to equip procurers with the knowledge and skills to procure low-carbon products, services and works. The seminar was attended by a host of municipalities, national and regional ministries and organisations, and academic institutions from across Croatia.

The seminar focused in detail on the legal and organisational framework for green tendering procedures and on calculating life-cycle costing. Having received the training, participants will now implement low-carbon tenders in ten categories, demonstrating the impact that low-carbon criteria in public procurement can have and serving as examples to other procurers.

Implementation of the tenders will also contribute towards the EU’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase the share of renewable energy and increase energy efficiency. Sandra Vlašić, Environmental Programme Officer at UNDP, said, “Trainings of this kind are helpful to public procurers because they have to follow legal procedures while taking into account technical requirements of the products and services with a low-carbon footprint.”

For more information, click here.