Sustainable Procurement Through the Supply Chain

Sean Lockie
We are seeing growing interest in environmentally responsible supply chain management. Find out about setting upfront sustainability targets in projects, and consider how green leases can form part of a sustainable procurement strategy.

 A company's purchasing decisions can have a major impact on its sustainability footprint.

More and more companies now aim to manage their supply chain in an environmentally responsible way. Setting upfront sustainability targets in projects, and rewarding innovation in the supply chain, is a more cost effective ‘no surprises' way of ensuring sustainability outcomes.

Points to consider:

  • Identify and prioritise products and services with the greatest environmental impacts
  • Look for partners with a proven track record in this area
  • Think laterally. Could the need for the product/services be met in a different way?
  • How can the supply chain be rewarded for innovation? (sustainability)
  • Specify products with better environmental credentials
  • Buy less, reduce waste and packaging, and minimise transport distances
  • Improve the end of life potential

Discuss with the supply chain:

  • Their ideas for improving the project's sustainability
  • Their organisation's environmental policy and performance
  • Their Environmental Management System and its certification
  • Their product lifecycle assessments
  • Their approach to the client organisation's sustainability targets

Setting targets

Setting business-specific targets for a building project - at both macro and micro level - is key.

Examples of macro targets

  • Achievement of BREEAM ‘Excellent' or LEED ‘Platinum'
  • The use of ‘green leases'

Examples of micro targets

Construction target 

Operational target
Water consumption per 100m2 of constructed floor area Water use per m2 of Gross Internal Floor Area

Water use per employee

Waste to landfill generated per £100,0000 of construction value 

Waste generated on a m2 per person basis

Carbon embedded in the building structure per m2

Carbon emitted from the heating, lighting, and ICT of a building over its operational life

Number of apprenticeships offered in an area resulting from a project

Number of jobs created by the project

Green leases in sustainable procurement

Green leases are an example of sustainable procurement. A green lease requires both landlords and tenants to meet sustainability targets such as energy, water and waste management. The lease agreement will ideally have explicit sustainability targets (eg. the 'operational' targets shown above). This enables the entire supply chain to be clear about the need to deliver a building that meets these targets. The skill of the procurement team lies in defining what's needed and working out how best to audit the outcome. Green leases are used in both a strategic and detailed way.

Examples of strategic clauses in a green lease:

  • For the building to achieve 'upper quartile' CO2 emissions from the building's heating, cooling, lighting and ICT emissions [no more than 35 KG CO2/m2PA]
  • BREEAM 'Excellent' Rating or LEED 'Platinum' or equivalent
  • Buildings to be within 1000m of a regular bus and/or rail services

Examples of detailed supporting information in a green lease:

  • 12 months' energy data to be provided by the landlord
  • Energy efficient lighting/presence detection/zoning and daylight dimming
  • End-use sub-metering as a requirement - by zone, and by use - ie ICT, lighting, and heating cooling etc.

 We can help you interrogate your supply chain and formulate sustainable procurement policies and processes.