Published: 29 March 2023

Promoting sustainable development with the Ladder in Wallonia

Sylvie Loutz, Cécile Batungwanayo



The CO2 Performance Ladder was launched in 2019 in Belgium in the framework of several public works contracts. The intention of this pilot phase is to include the CO2 Performance Ladder in several public tenders in the three Belgian regions as pilot projects, to validate the scheme on the Belgian territory.

For Wallonia, since 2019, an action plan related to sustainable public procurement has been developed. Indeed, Wallonia wishes to encourage each public actor to adopt, at its level, a purchasing policy that will bring added value to society. Particularly by contributing to the fight against climate change. Making public purchasing more sustainable therefore also means integrating environmental clauses into the specifications. To do this, tools are needed, and the CO2 Performance Ladder is one of these tools. 

Sylvie Loutz, project manager for sustainable construction at the Sustainable Development Directorate of the SPW (Walloon Public Service) and Cécile Batungwanayo, advisor at the Walloon Air and Climate Agency (AwAC) explain the challenges of the CO2 Performance Ladder and talk about the achievements in Wallonia.

The first steps in Wallonia

Sylvie explains that the first steps were taken in 2017 and the three regions (Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia) in 2019 agreed on the transposition of the Dutch CO2 Performance Ladder to Belgium.  

The Ladder was adopted by three ministries, here in Wallonia: the Ministry for Public Works, the Ministry for Climate and the Ministry for Sustainable Development. The CO2 Performance Ladder, used as a clause in public contracts, has the advantage of encouraging companies to reduce their CO2 emissions. Today, this system is supported by the government via the Walloon Recovery Plan, which wants to continue its work on green public procurement and reducing CO2 emissions for Wallonia.

The CO2 Performance Ladder, developed in the Netherlands more than 10 years ago, is a tool that can be used as an environmental clause in public procurement.  “This tool, which has already proved its value in the Netherlands, allowed us to easily enter the pilot phase for Belgium,” adds Cécile.

“The CO2 Performance Ladder enables us to stimulate the construction sector in a structural way”

When certification takes place at the company level, certification will reduce the CO2 impact. The advantage of having a company certification is that all offices, other sites and construction sites carried out by the company will lead to a reduction of the CO2 impact. However, certification can also be carried out on a project-by-project basis and this is a good first step. As in the Netherlands, certification of the company or on project level is voluntary. 

Indirectly, the CO2 Performance Ladder is also a way to fight against social dumping, as all personnel involved on the construction sites (company personnel or personnel of the subcontractor(s)) are registered with regard to their CO2 footprint.

Sustainable procurement

Within SPW, the Sustainable Development Directorate emphasises sustainable procurement as a key lever for sustainable development, by including various aspects in public procurement clauses. For example, social clauses that promote the integration of people who dropped out of the labour market or providing training. Public authorities can use pre-established standard social clauses for this purpose in tenders. For certain types of public procurement, it is mandatory to add these kinds of social clauses.

In addition, from an ethical point of view, an anti-dumping clause for example, can be included in the tender specifications. As part of sustainable procurement, the aim is also to further develop the environmental aspect. “Like the social clause, we also want to add an environmental clause. In this context, the CO2 Performance Ladder is a good example of an environmental clause we could use. Currently, there are not many environmental clauses that can be added in tenders, it remains a voluntary process,” Sylvie tells us.

Projects applying the CO2 Performance Ladder in Wallonia 

11 pilot projects integrating the CO2 Performance Ladder in its clauses have been identified for Wallonia. Some pilot projects have already been implemented and others are in progress or have yet to be launched. Cécile and Sylvie give us some examples.

6 projects are supported by SPW Mobility infrastructure and are located in the Liège, Namur, Lower Sambre and Hainaut regions. “The most advanced of these projects is the Bressoux multimodal zone project, which is located near Liège. The company was committed to and has just obtained its level 3 certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder for the completion of this site in less than a year.”

Other projects were carried out by intermunicipal companies. The first project on the CO2 Performance Ladder in Wallonia was Orientis 3, a mixed economic activity park in Ghislenghien. This project is led by the Territorial Development Agency IDETA. The projects are of different types: road works, quay development works, construction of a building.  These are all types of work where the Ladder is used in Wallonia!

Tips for future projects

“The Ladder is an easy system to set up and understand. There are few questions or constraints at the level of public purchasers. Companies generally commit to level 3 of the CO2 Performance Ladder for pilot projects. The number of bids has not changed and the pilot projects already launched also show that the Ladder does not influence the prices of public procurement. So prices vary little between companies committed to the CO2 Performance Ladder and those not. We are still waiting for the final results of the pilot phase in Belgium, but so far the results are already encouraging!”

“The Ladder is an easy system to set up and understand. There are few questions or constraints at the level of public purchasers”

The CO2 Performance Ladder in your country?

Interested in reducing carbon emissions in your country with the CO2 Performance Ladder? Get in touch to find out how the Ladder can be used in your organisation as sustainable procurement tool and CO2 management system.

Maud VastbinderGet in touch