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The City of Helsinki: Using carbon footprint criteria to promote sustainable public procurement

© Saara Pellikka
The goal of the city of Helsinki action is to find ways to mitigate climate change through procurement. We are aiming to make the sustainability and low-carbon key factors in procurement processes.

In this action we have selected several pilot procurements in whose procurement processes we aim to take the low-carbon and other environmental and responsibility aspects into account in the best possible manner. In particular, it is investigated how the calculation of the carbon footprint can be applied in different procurement groups and what kind of criteria can be formed for the carbon footprint.

The aim is to create successful examples and applicable tools that contribute to the development of sustainable procurement in Helsinki and in other cities in Finland.

From mapping the procurement groups to sharing best practices

The project started in the spring 2019 with the mapping of the City of Helsinki's procurements and the selection of suitable pilot procurements. The pilot cases with significant climate impact were selected in collaboration with the city’s procurement experts. At least construction and maintenance work, food procurements, textile procurements and various ICT and vehicle procurements were examined.

In addition to the climate impact of the procurement, the size of the procurement and the possibilities to take into account the carbon footprint in the procurement process as well as the city's procurement schedule were taken into account in the selection of pilot cases.

The project involves nine pilot procurements

  • In the design and build contract (pdf, hel.fi), bidders calculated the carbon footprint of their plans during the tender phase, which was then scored as part of the tender. The carbon footprint of the offer will be monitored during the construction project.
  • The carbon footprint of the restaurant service of the new division building will be calculated during the contract period. In addition, the responsibility of the service production was improved and vegetarian and vegan meals added.
  • In resurfacing contracts (asphalting), data is collected from contractors during the contract period in order to assess the contract's climate impact. We also participate in the development of a common carbon footprint tool for the asphalting industry.
  • In the procurement of dairy products (pdf, hel.fi), the market's readiness for carbon footprint calculation was surveyed, and the supplier's action plan to reduce the carbon footprint during the contract period was required.
  • In the procurement of meat products (pdf, hel.fi), the market's readiness for carbon footprint calculation was surveyed, and the supplier's action plan to reduce the carbon footprint during the contract period was required.
  • In the procurement of food services for residential homes, the aim is to reduce the carbon footprint during the contract period by means of sustainability action plan. In addition, a tool was developed to improve monitoring of the responsibility criteria.
  • During the project planning phase of the renovation of apartment buildings (pdf, hel.fi), the life cycle carbon footprint, energy consumption and life cycle costs were optimized. In the planning phase, the circular economy potential of the renovation is examined by a separate re-use investigation and plan.
  • In a dense street environment, an emission assessment to direct the street and water supply planning was carried out and resource-wise alternative was examined (pdf, hel.fi). The recommendations for the resource-wise alternative will be considered later in the actual contract tendering.
  • In the workwear procurement (pdf, hel.fi), it was examined whether a service procurement is more sustainable option compared to a product procurement in terms of life cycle impacts. Criteria that take the carbon footprint and the circular economy into account will be added to the procurement.

The key factors behind the successful pilots are active market dialogue and cooperation with companies, research institutes and other municipalities and cities.

The pilot procurement preparation and implementation are carefully documented as separate case descriptions for evaluation of results and information sharing. The first case descriptions were completed in November 2020 and the rest during 2021. In addition to emission reductions, the impact of completed procurement is also assessed from a life-cycle cost perspective, when possible.

Assessment of the carbon footprint of the City of Helsinki's procurements

At the same time with the selection of pilot procurements, an assessment of the carbon footprint of the City of Helsinki's procurements was launched in cooperation with Syke. The assessment was completed in autumn 2019. The results can be used to assess the significance of procurement groups from a climate perspective, as well as to perceive where emission reduction measures should be targeted.

The good practices are actively shared and the competence of the suppliers is developed by providing guidelines, tools and procurement training. The aim is that procurements inspired by the project can be carried out in other cities in Finland as well.

This action promotes Helsinki's goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035. You can monitor the impact of the action on Helsinki's carbon neutrality goal in Climate Watch, especially under actions 107 and 108.

Time frame

March 2019–October 2024


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More information

  • Project coordinator Miia Herzon, City of Helsinki, firstname.lastname@hel.fi, tel +358 9 3104 2138
Published 2020-05-08 at 18:33, updated 2021-10-18 at 8:36
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