The City of Helsinki aims to promote responsible procurements in its strategies and policies. As a rule, the City’s environmental policy requires the examination of environmental impacts when making procurements that exceed the national threshold value. Over the course of 2019, the significance of procurements in promoting responsibility and climate goals has been recognised better. The perspective has become wider than environmental responsibility, with social and economic responsibility also taken into account better. It was also decided to promote more comprehensive monitoring of the use of both environmental and social responsibility criteria in monitoring procurement agreements. On average, the environmental criteria were used in around 67% of the procurements of the City’s divisions and enterprises in 2019 when examined in euros and in 45% when examined as individual procurements. This marked an improvement of a few percent from 2018. The most commonly used environmental criteria were those related to low emissions or those related to environmental programmes and plans.

The Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 action plan that steers the climate objectives sets ambitious goals to promote responsible procurements. The programme lists a total of 23 procedures to improve the management and effectiveness of procurements and develop construction, transport and food service procurements towards lower impacts on the climate. The procedures have successfully expedited responsible procurements, and several smaller working groups have been formed around the procedures to develop aspects such as food services and area projects. Additionally, work to develop a joint responsibility criterion bank began in 2019.

Development work on the Urban Environment Division’s procurements is guided by a new procurement strategy, which provides a framework for creating an operating model for responsible procurements in a designated procedure group. This work was started by reviewing the environmental criteria used in the Division’s procurements by procurement group. After that, a list was created of objectives in the Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 action plan, the Division’s environmental programme, the Real Estate Strategy and other programmes that affect similar categories. After these phases, each procurement group’s significance was assessed in terms of climate, environmental and social criteria alike. The plan is to promote the operating model in the future through a separate project plan.

The environmental network for the City of Helsinki’s procurements was expanded in 2019 with several persons, and co-operation with enterprises and subsidiary companies has increased as well. The network’s task is to make the City’s internal co-operation closer and information exchange between parties responsible for the City’s procurements more frequent, as well as to highlight good practices. Procurements are also developed in several EU-funded projects that have brought more resources to implementing sustainable and climate-friendly procurements.

The City of Helsinki’s new travel instructions came into effect on 24 May 2019. They state that when planning business and duty travel, factors to be taken into consideration include but are not limited to the necessity of the travel, as well as carbon neutrality and low-emission perspectives, meaning that the travel must be arranged in a manner that loads the environment as little as possible. They also state that the possibility of holding meetings through remote connections should be looked into as an alternative, and that domestic work-related travel should be primarily be carried out by means other than flying. The City Board would like to have annual reporting on the numbers of journeys and the effects of the new travel instructions, in particular on the numbers of flights. A bidding competition is currently being held concerning the City’s travel agency services, and one possibility is that in the future, climate emissions from the business travel of the City’s employees will be automatically compensated for through the travel agency in connection with making a travel reservation. Flights taken in 2017–2019 and their emissions are presented in the image. The number of flights has steadily increased in recent years, and the impact of the new travel instructions is not yet evident in the figures.

City employees’ flights

The number of flights by city employees has grown steadily in recent years.

In 2019, Helsinki began its work on the six-year long Towards Carbon Neutral Municipalities project whole (the Canemure project) coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute. The massive national project involves implementing practical climate change mitigation procedures with 22 partners. The City of Helsinki’s subproject involves promoting low-carbon procurements and delving into how the carbon footprint could be taken into consideration in procurements better than at the moment.

Helsinki was the first city in Finland to have its carbon footprint calculated by the Finnish Environment Institute as part of the Canemure project. In 2018, the calculated carbon footprint of Helsinki’s procurements was 0.81 million tonnes of CO2e. In terms of climate impacts, the most significant procurement groups were building investments, building and maintenance services and the heating and electricity consumption of buildings and premises. In addition to these procurement groups, the City is looking into opportunities to also reduce emissions in service procurements, the percentage of which in euros is likely to increase further in the future.

In 2019, a total of nine pilot procurements were started in the Canemure project. All of the pilot procurements have a large carbon footprint, but they also have an opportunity to reduce emissions. In the tendering phase, carbon footprint calculation was piloted in a design-build project organised by the City’s housing production unit. The preparation of dairy and meat product procurements was carried out in co-operation with the procurement experts of the Service Centre, and in connection to that, market experts were invited to discuss the possibilities of involving taking responsibility criteria, especially for decreasing climate impacts and the carbon footprint, into consideration in future bidding competitions. Additionally, carbon footprint calculation was attached to the agreement period of the restaurant services in the Urban Environment Division building.

The Resource-wise Industrial Areas (CRIA) project was started in the summer of 2019. In the project, one of Helsinki’s development subjects is the development and piloting of procurement criteria for emission-free worksites. The development work began in late 2019, and a market dialogue event was held for infrastructure contractors in December.

Helsinki is actively involved in national and international development work for sustainable procurements. In 2019, the Six Cities’ climate network of mayors presented a new initiative, which states that cities should assess the most significant procurement groups in terms of climate impacts at the city-level, taking procurement group volumes and the lifecycle-long climate impacts of procurements into consideration. Helsinki has also been involved in preparing the Green Deal for emission-free worksites in co-operation with the state and four other cities and has taken part in the KEINO Competence Centre’s various developer groups, as well as a procurement management training programme at the KEINO Academy. Regional co-operation on sustainable procurements was also continued in the sustainable procurement group of the Helsinki metropolitan area.

In 2019, Helsinki was involved in the Big Buyers network, which operates under ICLEI and features three groups developing an emission-free worksite, electric machinery and construction following the principles of circular economy. Furthermore, Helsinki has continued as an active member of the Procura+ network, among others. The food delivery service entity, for which the Service Centre held a bidding competition in 2018, received international visibility as an example of the European Commission’s good practices for green public procurements.

Helsinki has been a Fairtrade city for six years. In 2019, the Service Centre consumed 1,120 kg of Fairtrade certified coffee, while Palmia Oy consumed 9,730 kg. Both operators consumed 3,910 kg of Fairtrade certified bananas. Other Fairtrade products consumed included tea, tofu, honey and cane sugar.

The City is involved in the UUMA3 new land construction project, which promotes aspects such as emission calculation instructions and implementation in infrastructure construction, as well as developing the service chains for recycled materials, such as the recycled binders used in deep stabilisation, and testing them in real-life conditions. In Helsinki and its coastal areas, deep stabilisation plays a significant role when building on clay soil, and greenhouse gas emissions from its cement and lime-based binders have been observed to be very high. The test pillar stabilisation to take place on the clay soil of the Kuninkaantammi area construction project in the spring of 2020 is an important part of this whole. The mass stabilisation of the Konala scenic embankment carried out in the winter of 2019 produced experience with using the emission criteria when procuring binders. The goal is that in the future, the greenhouse gas emissions from deep stabilisation binders will only be a fraction of those from the lime cement that is currently in common use. The goal is also for the percentage of recycled materials to be significantly higher in the future than in, for example, a lime cement mixture, in which the percentage of recycled materials is 0–25%, depending on the mixture ratio and cement quality. Currently, there are binders in which the percentage of recycled materials is almost 100% in the productisation phase.

Eyes on the future:

More goals for responsible procurements than before have been prepared in the City’s environmental policy, which is currently being updated. The goal is to improve the effectiveness of procurements and the assessment thereof, as well as develop the monitoring of the realisation of the criteria used.

Work to update the City of Helsinki’s procurement strategy will start in 2020. The strategy will be updated in co-operation with the strategy work department for Finland’s national public procurements.

The categorisation of procurements, using uniform criteria and developing monitoring during agreement periods are central themes in developing procurements. In the future, in addition to the Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 action plan, the development of sustainable procurements will be guided by a circular and sharing economy roadmap, which will emphasise procurements that are resource-wise and sensible in terms of their lifecycle impacts. When making procurements with significant environmental effects, the goal will be to take their carbon footprint into consideration in the future, yet without forgetting their other environmental impacts. Know-how will also be developed through projects.