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Breaking Ground – Big Buyers Procurement Training leverages public purchasing for clean construction and EVs

3 December 2019

European cities are ready to take their public procurement to the next level. At an event in Oslo this week, frontrunner cities got together to make their procurement power count in the fields of circular construction, heavy duty electric vehicles and zero emission construction sites.

Over 40 cities, among them GLCN Cities Helsinki and Rotterdam, as well as Procura+ participants such as Zurich, and Haarlem, as well as leading cities such as Paris and Brussels, got together in Oslo on 28 and 29 November to build their capacity for innovation procurement, to share market engagement experiences, and to develop criteria for pilot procurements in the sectors mentioned above. This collaboration takes place thanks to the European Commission’s Big Buyers Initiative.

At the workshop, cities visited a zero-emission construction site where all construction machinery is powered by renewable-sourced electricity and a building renovation and expansion project in which nearly 70% of construction materials were reused. Rounding off the site visits, participants were transported by some of Oslo’s electric public buses. Oslo also shared a deep dive into how their environmental criteria for zero-emission transport and construction sites have been received by the market, which aligns with their target that by 2025 all publicly procured construction in the city must have a zero-emission site.

After a welcome from Ivo Locatelli of DG Grow, participants heard from innovative procurement experiences around the room: from a dynamic purchasing system for joint procurement by Copenhagen and Oslo, a buyer-supplier trust partnership model by Amsterdam, and procuring sustainable housing using LCA criteria by Helsinki. Procurers affirmed the available levers and procedures available to them to incentivise innovation, build trusting relationships with suppliers, and accelerate progress towards their environmental goals.

A session on dos and don’ts of market engagement highlighted a wide variety of experiences procuring innovative and sustainable solutions and also demonstrated the importance of close collaboration between buyers and suppliers to align their needs and ambitions. Going forward, participating cities will engage in further capacity building events and will give and receive feedback on their approaches and criteria for upcoming procurements in these fields.


The cities are part of the Big Buyers Initiative, a European Commission Initiative run by ICLEI and EUROCITIES, for promoting collaboration between big public buyers in implementing strategic public procurement to improve their cities’ sustainability and quality of life. They are united by their common ambitions to reduce CO2 emissions and minimise resource consumption. As part of the initiative, three working groups on circular construction materials, heavy-duty electric vehicles, and zero-emission construction sites were established.

For more information about the Big Buyers Initiative go here.