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Using Procurement to Leverage Sustainability Transition Dynamics in Construction : The Dutch Circular Public Procurement Case

Uil, Thomas (2022) Using Procurement to Leverage Sustainability Transition Dynamics in Construction : The Dutch Circular Public Procurement Case.

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Abstract:The ambitious climate goals set for 2030 and 2050 force nations to develop climate policies. In turn, public clients leverage their buying power to steer the transition of unsustainable industries, like the construction industry, towards sustainable industries. In the Dutch construction industry, public clients use Circular Public Procurement (CPP) as such a lever. Despite the large buying power, this CPP approach seems to have limited impact on the industry’s transition, since CPP strategies are deployed on a limited number of projects. To accelerate a transition, it is key to understand transition processes. In this field, the Sustainable Market Transformation Framework (SMTF) proposes a maturity model to determine the transition dynamics. This article deploys the SMTF perspective to assess the impact of the Dutch CPP deployment on the transition towards a sustainable construction industry. The article builds on a multiple case study and expert interviews. Each case is analysed whether CPP incited firms move to more sustainable maturity, creating insights into the transition impact of various CPP-elements. In the first transition phases, three key CPP-elements are found to support the transition towards a sustainable construction industry. (1) Tendering with functional specifications incited bidders to come up with their particular circular products. This encourages competitors to develop a company’s vision on circularity rather than following a prescribed solution from the project’s perspective. (2) Concurrently, once projects are awarded, clients and contractors should collaborate as the exploration of innovative circular products for the industry is inherently a joint effort. This collaborative relationship facilitates knowledge creation and the development of organizational visions regarding circularity. (3) As time and budget are determinants of circular quality, it is important to have flexibility in the collaborative relationship regarding time and budget goals of the project. This flexibility should be secured by contractual conditions to foster a collaborative relationship. Once sustainable maturity is achieved – the final phase of the transition -, the same CPP-elements as in the first transition phases but with another application are found to support the transition. (I) Prescriptive tender specifications seem more appropriate as the best products are institutionalized. (II) Due to this institutionalization, clients and contractors could operate in more traditional arms-length project relationships, while (III) a tight focus on time and budget facilitates efficiency.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Construction Management and Engineering MSc (60337)
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