The Civil Engineering sector is one of the sectors with the largest impact on the sustainability of the living environment, due to the use of large quantities of ‘carbon heavy’ materials, and (primary) raw materials. This leads to high environmental impact and high energy consumption with high CO2 emissions, therefore making the potential for sustainability gains equally high.
“The Civil Engineering sector is one of the sectors with the largest impact on the sustainability of the living environment”
Not only is the climate impact of the sector substantial, but the procurement volume of governments in this sector is too. Annually, works in the Civil Engineering sector involve billions of euros. Because of the climate impact, the procurement volume and the (market) share of public contracting authorities in this sector, sustainable procurement is a great way to achieve positive impact in reducing CO2 emissions.
Since 2013, the CO2 Performance Ladder has been applied as a sustainable procurement tool in the Dutch Civil Engineering sector via the Green Deal, alongside three other tools.
Sector-wide agreements and basic instruments
The Green Deal comprises a set of long-term and sector-wide agreements between contracting authorities and contractors: central government, provinces, municipalities, water boards, scientific institutions, construction companies, contractors, consultancies and sector organisations all collaborated to lay down these joint sustainability ambitions.
The aim of the Green Deal is to arrive at uniform basic instruments that unambiguously measure CO2 reduction and circularity in the Civil Engineering sector and can be used by all organisations involved. The core of the Sustainable Civil Engineering approach is the use of four tools to think about sustainability throughout the various phases of a project:
For instance, the CO2 Performance Ladder helps to embed CO2 reduction in contracting authorities’ tenders, while the environmental costs of material use in projects can be mapped using DuboCalc. Thus, the Green Deal offers inspiring examples and tools on how to make sustainability concrete and measurable, scaling up the sustainability of Civil Engineering projects.
Cooperation and standardisation in the market
The Green Deal Sustainable Civil Engineering has led to more cooperation around sustainability in the sector and to more standardisation in the approach to sustainability in the Civil Engineering sector. CO2 reduction, sustainable use of materials and environmental impact are increasingly becoming business as usual.
The ideas of the Green Deal Sustainable Civil Engineering are still alive: in 2022, the Manifest Sustainable Civil Engineering 2030 was published setting ambitious targets and a common approach, including the CO2 Performance Ladder. A great example of the power of a sector-wide initiative .
“The Green Deal Sustainable Civil Engineering has led to more cooperation around sustainability in the sector”