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31 January 2014

Concrete using recycled aggregate trialled in Berlin

During the construction of a new building at Humboldt University in Berlin (Germany), a new form of concrete produced from sustainable resources and which uses recycled aggregate instead of gravel was employed for the first time. This has been permitted under current regulations since 2004, but has been rarely explored in construction due to lack of demand.

The pilot project was initiated by Berlin’s Senate Department for Urban Development and Environment, with the technical support of Cottbus-Senftenberg University of Technology. In the first phase of construction, walls were built using around one third of recycled concrete. A local company took up the challenge to develop the composition for this new type of concrete while another developed a process for the preparation of the recycled concrete material.

Michael Müller, Senator for Urban Development and Environment, said that the aim of the pilot project was to test the applicability of the material and process to future projects, not only in the construction of buildings but also for road construction and civil engineering.

For more information, click here [in German].


28 January 2014

Inaugural PPI Award invites European Applicants

European public authorities are invited to apply for the first edition of the Public Procurement of Innovation Award, which will be presented to an exemplary public authority that purchases innovative, effective and efficient products and services. Public authorities can apply for the award by completing the application form and sending it to the Procurement of Innovation Platform team. Applications for the award close on 31 March 2014.

Already a number of ambitious organisations have applied to take home the prize. The successful entry will be selected in May 2014 and will receive a trophy together with the title “European innovation procurement of the year”; a case study, made available on the Procurement of Innovation Platform; promotion across Europe and internationally; and the possibility of a paid experience exchange visit to a selected public authority.

The winner will also be invited to attend the EcoProcura 2014 conference free of charge. The Public Procurement of Innovation Award was launched on 29 October 2013 by Vice-President of the European Commission Antonio Tajani, during the symposium ‘Achieving Excellence in Business Friendly Public Administration’.

For more information, click here.


23 January 2014

Dutch adopt procurement method that encourages innovation and sustainability

The use of functional specifications is an approach to procurement that facilitates innovation in procurement processes, enabling customers and suppliers to discuss where the greatest opportunities for sustainability lie. The approach does away with unilateral criteria, but instead focuses on overall goals to be achieved, leaving greater freedom for innovative approaches.

Functional specifications are general, short and concise, and concerned with outcomes; they do not go into detail on how the outcome should be achieved. As well as leaving greater room for innovation, the approach promotes the development of more sustainable products. To better explain this increasingly common approach, a guide has been developed by the Dutch Government.

This guide will be used to update the country's sustainable procurement policy and to provide buyers with further information. Ultimately the guide aims to help transform the reactive approach to procurement to a more proactive approach. It is intended that functional specifications will stimulate entrepreneurship to meet defined needs, and will enable a greater number of suppliers to tender for contracts.

To view the guide, click here.


21 January 2014

Mexico takes top honours at Inter-American Innovation Awards on Government Procurement

Delegations from Mexico, Panama and Peru took home prestigious prizes at the recent Innovation Awards on Government Procurement ceremony, held by the Inter-American Network on Government Procurement. The awards recognise and highlight initiatives that optimise government procurement at a regional level.

The Public Procurement Policy Unit of the Ministry of Civil Service of Mexico was awarded for its market solutions initiative CompraNet, taking top honours in the category “innovation in the implementation of new information technology on government procurement”. Public employees from Panama were awarded for establishing Framework Agreements on International Air fares, while the party from Peru was recognised for their Arbitration Record initiative.

US $2,000 was awarded to the Mexican delegation, while the others took home $1,000 each. This money will be used to fund training for staff members, and provide access to materials related to public procurement. In granting the awards, judges looked at a number of criteria, including innovation and creativity in the procurement solutions, the impact the initiative has on the system, the impact on beneficiaries, the sustainability of the initiative in the long term, and the replicability for other countries.

For more information, click here.


17 January 2014

New EU procurement directives approved, place greater focus on innovation

On Wednesday 15 January the European Parliament (EP) approved the new EU Public Procurement Directives. The new legislation will replace the current directives and will be binding in all EU Member States once they have been transposed into national law. States have up to two years time for the transposition. Innovation is explicitly encouraged through the new procurement rules, exhibited through the inclusion of ‘innovation partnerships’.

This new procedure acts as a mechanism to encourage dialogue with bidders and foster innovation procurement. The overall goal of the directives is to ensure public authorities purchase best value for money (rather than simply lowest cost) and facilitate bids from SMEs. Another salient aspect of the new directives is the addition of the ‘most economically advantageous tender’ (MEAT) as the standard award criterion.

"Public procurement will no longer be a question of simply accepting the lowest price. Smart customers will work with smart suppliers to provide better solutions, better tailored to meeting customer needs in more innovative ways," said British MEP and Rapporteur Malcolm Harbour, Chairman of the EP’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. The introduction of the MEAT criterion should serve to further support the use of environmental and social criteria in public tenders.

Further analysis and discussion of the new procurement directives will take place on the Procurement Forum.

For more information, click here.


15 January 2014

Input sought for upcoming PPI guidance documents

To further aid in the uptake of public procurement of innovation (PPI), the Procurement of Innovation Platform will publish three guidance documents. Each guide is designed to enhance public procurers’ understanding of PPI, enabling them to easily and effectively purchase innovative goods and services. Before publication, the PPI Consortium is seeking stakeholder input to further refine the guides’ content. Specific questions have been developed to help focus stakeholders' contributions; the full list of questions can be found on the PPI platform website.

Contributions are being sought until the end of February 2014. To do so, contact The first guide will give a general introduction to the topic, outlining the most effective methods of implementation. The second will focus on risk management, providing an overview in the context of effective PPI. Guidance on intellectual property forms the focus of the third guide, including how to contractually deal with new findings, insights and technologies.

Stakeholders are also invited to discuss specific topics posted on the Procurement Forum. The PPI guidance documents are being developed with support from the European Commission by the PPI Consortium, a partnership between ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, PIANOo – the Dutch Public Procurement Expertise Centre, REC – the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe and IWT – the Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology.

For more information, click here.


14 January 2014

Polish hospital uses PPI to improve patient comfort

The County Hospital in Sucha Beskidzka (Poland), a partner in the EcoQUIP project, is using PPI as a means to enhance the comfort of their patients. Each summer the temperature in patients’ rooms becomes swelteringly high, which has implications on both the quality of patients’ care and the medical equipment in the room. The hospital recently released details of its intention to conduct a technical dialogue procedure.

Previously trialled measures (such as installing air conditioning units) proved either ineffective, or costly and unsustainable. To remedy this, the hospital will carry out a market inquiry to find a solution that is cost-effective and low-carbon, does not interfere with medical technology, that will facilitate patient recovery and enhance performance of medical staff, while delivering thermal comfort for all occupants of the hospital.

The market engagement scheme is being launched ahead of the commencement of the formal procurement procedure. The scheme will consist of market sounding, in which relevant bodies will be asked to register their interest through completing a short questionnaire, and an informative market consultation workshop and networking event. The EcoQUIP project aims to deliver efficiency, quality and sustainability in healthcare through the use of innovative procurement.

For more information, click here.


9 January 2014

New York & Buenos Aires plan to save money, reduce emissions through LED switch

In a move to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions, New York City (USA) and Buenos Aires (Argentina) are replacing street lights with energy efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs). In New York, every light in the city will be replaced by 2017, saving an impressive $14 million. Replacing the 250,000 street lights marks the largest retrofit in the USA, and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a projected 30 percent.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “With roughly a quarter-million street lights in our City, upgrading to more energy efficient lights is a large and necessary feat. It will save taxpayers millions of dollars, move us closer to achieving our ambitious sustainability goals, and help us to continue reducing City government’s day-to-day costs and improving its operations.”

In Buenos Aires, increased public safety also contributed to the decision to switch to LEDs. The white light of LEDs (as opposed to the orange glow of sodium lights) enables better facial recognition by both people and security cameras, strengthening crime prevention. The LED lights will reduce energy use by 50 percent in the city, and will last five times longer than conventional lighting, lowering maintenance costs.

For more information on New York, click here; on Buenos Aires, click here.


8 January 2014

Danish company gives old bricks a new lease of life

A plant in Denmark is helping to minimise the problem of construction waste by extracting reusable bricks and preparing them for contemporary reuse. Through vibrations, the company is able to remove previous concrete and cement, making the bricks ready to be used again. The technique provides an innovative solution to the issue of construction waste, greatly reducing the quantity that must be sent to landfill or pulverised.

The system of vibrations is a remarkably clean method of preparing the bricks, removing the need for water and chemical treatment. The method is also 98 percent more energy efficient than the creation of new bricks. On average, eight tonnes of CO2 per new household are saved through using reclaimed bricks.

Denmark has seen an upswing in the market for old bricks, as many consumers view the material as having more character compared to its newer counterpart. Explaining the trend, Claus Nielsen, the CEO of Gamle Mursten, says that “history is passed on from the old bricks to the new building”, providing a sense of added value. The project is supported by the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme Eco-Innovation Initiative and is looking to expand into Germany and Poland.

For more information, click here.