Category 18 April 2019

Stimulating sustainable consumption in public procurement

In order to promote sustainable consumption in public organizations, a method for considerate design in public procurement was developed by the region of Västra Götaland in Sweden. The method supports responsible purchasing by helping public organizations as well as architects and designers to reduce environmental impact when considering changing the business’s work environment.  

The challenge

Promoting sustainable practices is increasingly important in promoting sustainability, sustainable consumption and sustainable procurement. Especially in the public sector it has been challenging to stimulate social, ecological, and economic sustainability when it comes to decreasing hazardous and more energy efficient material in interior design. There is no method for providing incentives for sustainable consumption, creating sustainable processes for materials and manufacturing that do not endanger human health and the environment.

The measure

In 2001 the project Design med Omtanke (DMO) was started in Sweden by the region of Västra Götaland in cooperation with the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (SVID), Svensk Form, and the School of Design and Crafts. The project was publicly funded (public grant funding for demonstration), by the region of Västra Götaland, Municipal unions in Sjuhärad, Skaraborg and Fyrbodal, SVID, and the European Union Structural Fund.

DMO is a method developed for use in the public sector, and helps public organizations, architects and designers in developing more sustainable public workplaces. Through strategic planning using only 2% of the investment for the preliminary study phase it is possible to use the remaining 98% in a smarter and better way, without making it more expensive.

The method allows employees to participate and influence, identifying needs in early stages. The focus is on sustainability – products must withstand wear and show the company’s values ​​– in order to reduce environmental impacts and also contribute to a better work environment.

The development and use of DMO has created an understanding of eco-design for both public organizations as well as for architects, designers and other businesses. Additionally, the project has developed a tool - the Green List - which consists of companies that have been contracted for interior decoration with high environmental performance standards. 60% of the products purchased today by the region of Västra Götaland are from companies on this list.

Lessons learnt

DMO project started to create a method to facilitate the sustainable development of public organizations by focusing on products in the work environment. It was mainly about increasing the supply and demand in sustainable design for public working spaces.

Initially, the project had five pilot projects in which architects, designers and employees in the companies worked together.

Through these first pilot studies, the project was able to gather experiences and test methods that eventually resulted in the considerate design method.

Further deployment

The DMO method is currently used in the region of Västra Götaland's own activities, by architects and designers, and by a process manager that supports other organizations. The method has been described in a handbook, and results from the project have been published in a scientific article in 2012. Still, the method has not been used in other areas and can therefore be estimated to have reached 8 on the GML scale, but the potential for scale up is high.



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