Sustainable Procurement Tools


Sustainable requirements need to be incorporated into the specification and must be relevant to the particular procurement, and not to the general capacities or qualities of the operator.

Technical specifications

Technical specifications relating to climate change adaptation are those that require all suppliers to supply, or use in service delivery, products or materials that meet specific relevant standards. Technical specifications need to relate to characteristics of the particular work, supply or service being purchased, and not to the general capacities or qualities of the operator – a procurer should only include those requirements which are related to the production of the good, service or work being purchased, rather than those which relate to the general practices or policies of the operator.

Within construction and infrastructure are included standard specifications which are relevant to climate resilience in the built environment, for example, the BREEAM standards for buildings. It is important that standards used in the procurement phase are effective in achieving the required climate change adaptation outcome.

The specification and/or design statement is therefore an essential step.

The Use of Labels

A buyer may ask for a product to have been given an independently verifiable label or operate to a stated standard which certifies that it meets specific climate change characteristics.

The use of labels needs to be considered with care. They must be:

  • linked to the subject of the contract (and all criteria must be relevant).
  • based on solid scientific evidence.
  • transparent, fair and non-discriminatory.
  • open to anyone who meets the standards.
  • certified by a third party e.g. Type 1 eco-labels (based on publicly available specifications, are operated by third parties, involve independent audits and consider life-cycle environmental impacts).

Where not all of a label’s criteria are relevant to a procurement, it is better to set out relevant criteria and requirements in the tender and contract conditions, instead of asking for the label. You may accept the holding of a relevant eco-label as evidence of compliance with that specification (including climate change)- but must be prepared to accept equivalent means of proof that the product or service meets the specification.                                                           

Within the Annex are examples of climate change adaptation wording that may be used within specifications.

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