10 October 2019

European cities engage the market to realise zero-emission and healthy construction procurement

Cities from across Europe met on 9 October in ICLEI Member Copenhagen (Denmark) to liaise with market actors in the construction supply chain regarding their targets and plans to achieve clean and healthy construction.

Representatives from ICLEI Members – and Procura+ Participants – Copenhagen, Oslo (Norway), Helsinki (Finland), Budapest (Hungary) and Brussels (Belgium), as well as from ICLEI Member Lisbon (Portugal) and other cities discussed their procurement ambitions for zero-emission construction sites and sustainable building materials.

Circular construction materials are a key area of interest for innovative local governments. Building material constitutes a major emitter of CO2, and there exist opportunities for cities to improve the way construction materials are reused and thus kept "in the loop" within cities. Cities are now working to move these circular ideas into actual procurements.

Ninna Hedeager Olsen, Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs at the City of Copenhagen, opened the dialogue by stating that "We need everyone on board to make clean construction work. We are here to explore what are reasonable and achievable demands. How do we help the market to help us to make a more sustainable construction sector? Meeting with others is always the first step to a better future."

The cities highlighted their targets to market suppliers. For example, Copenhagen's CPH2025 Climate Plan includes a goal for the City to use fossil-free fuels in its non-road mobile machinery. Oslo announced its policy for construction sites to be zero-emission by 2025, showing its leadership in sustainable procurement as a GLCN city

Wolfgang Teubner, Regional Director of ICLEI Europe recognised the need for "a critical mass of public authorities implementing sustainable procurement to achieve real progress in greening the market in Europe." Marzena Rogalaska, Director of the European Commission DG Grow, emphasised that "public procurement can play a strong role in clean construction." She went on to call for cities to recognise that they "are leaders of this movement, and Mayors and Ministers need to acknowledge their exemplary role in pushing the market."

This importantly marked a unique occassion for stakeholders spanning machinery manufacturers, materials suppliers, construction contractors and architects from across Europe to come together. The cities and suppliers were able to discuss challenges and solutions for meeting these targets in an open dialogue.

ICLEI Europe, Climate KIC, C40 and Innovation Norway organised the event under the European Commission Big Buyers Initiative, in cooperation with the C40 Mayor's Summit. The next step for the cities under the Big Buyers Initiative is to work together on developing procurement criteria and approaches that accelerate all stakeholders towards achieving sustainable public procurement.