The annual volume of the City of Helsinki’s procurements is approximately EUR 4 billion, making Helsinki the largest public procurer in Finland. Helsinki is committed to promoting environmental, social and financial responsibility in its procurements. The significance of procurements is strongly highlighted in both the City’s emissions reduction plan and the Roadmap for Circular and Sharing Economy, published in May 2020. In 2020, the focus in procurements was on revising the procurement strategy, reducing the climate emissions of procurements and promoting social responsibility.

On average, the environmental criteria were used in around 56 per cent of the procurements of the City’s divisions and enterprises in 2020 when examined as individual procurements. However, there are differences between the City’s divisions and enterprises in their use of the environmental criteria: for example, 86 per cent of the Service Centre’s procurements, 84 per cent of the Education Division’s procurements and 81 per cent of Stara’s procurements included environmental criteria in 2020. Some of the City divisions faced major challenges in monitoring the environmental criteria. As in the previous year, the criteria used the most were criteria related to low emissions and environmental management systems. Other criteria that were highlighted included energy and material efficiency, eco-label criteria and reduction and sorting of waste. Other key aspects besides the Helsinki brand in the design of Helsinki products have included ecological aspects, ethics, social responsibility and the circular economy. The City’s objective of reducing disposable plastic products has also been taken into account in the product range.

Helsinki gained a more responsible procurement strategy

The City Board approved a new procurement strategy for the City of Helsinki in December. The procurement strategy was revised concurrently with the drafting of the Finnish National Public Procurement Strategy. The three main themes of the procurement strategy of Helsinki are a functional market and promotion of innovations; effectiveness and responsibility; and management of procurement and procurement skills. Responsibility and effectiveness in particular are emphasised more.

Emissions from worksite operations and harmful chemicals were reduced with a Green Deal  agreement

In 2020, Helsinki signed two Green Deal agreements for procurements. Green Deal is a voluntary agreement between the government and the public sector or businesses. The aim of the Green Deal agreement for emission-free worksites is to reduce the emissions generated by worksites. The Green Deal agreement for reducing harmful substances in early childhood education aims to reduce harmful substances in procurements made in early childhood education, in addition to increasing the procurement of products that have earned the Nordic Eco-label. Besides Helsinki, both agreements involve a large number of Finnish cities and other public procurers, which is why the agreement has the potential to have a great impact on the market.

Helsinki continued working in the European Commission’s Big Buyers cooperation groups, which developed emission-free worksites, electric worksite machinery and construction following circular economy principles. Helsinki actively participated in peer learning events and cooperation groups organised by ICLEI. In the autumn, Helsinki participated in Nordic market dialogue and development work for improving responsibility in smartphone procurements.

A criteria bank was created to facilitate the use of responsibility criteria

The City’s shared criteria bank was created to facilitate the preparation of procurements. The bank collects successful examples of responsibility criteria utilised in procurements. The monitoring of the agreement management system’s responsibility criteria was also revised to cover not only the environmental criteria but also various responsibility perspectives more broadly.

Operating models for responsible procurement were refined

A Procurement Services unit was prepared for the Urban Environment Division in 2020, and it started its work at the turn of 2020 and 2021. An operating model for responsible procurement has also been in development for the division in order to make responsible procurement more systematic in this division, which has a considerable environmental impact.

Six of the Helsinki Group’s procurement units have participated in the KEINO Competence Centre’s Programme for the Development of the Management of the Impact of Procurements. The purpose of the programme is to help public organisations recognise the impact of their procurements and plan and direct them more efficiently from the perspective of the organisation’s own strategy.

Climate impacts are taken better into account in various procurements

The development of the City’s low-emission procurements continued under the six-year Towards Carbon Neutral Municipalities and Regions (Canemure) project. Helsinki’s subproject examines nine different procurements that have a significant climate impact. The possibility of taking the carbon footprint into account is assessed during their preparation.

In Kontula, a multi-objective optimisation was carried out on apartment buildings to identify an option optimised in terms of costs, energy efficiency and emissions for the implementation of the buildings’ renovation. An emissions calculation was carried out in street and water supply planning in Arabia, and the recommendations of the resource-wise option were determined for the contract to be implemented in the future. In spring 2020, a report was completed on climate-friendly alternatives to plastic in infrastructure construction. As for repaving contracts, the trends in the industry’s emissions calculation were examined and the consideration of the environmental impact of contracts was monitored.

The development of food service procurements continued with a series of workshops, the aim of which was to unify the City’s responsibility and climate criteria. In December, Helsinki, together with Vantaa and Espoo, organised a ‘Tasty and sustainable fish and vegetarian dishes!’ market workshop for the purpose of working with the market to find solutions for improving the availability of ingredients and the acceptability of the food.

In the autumn, a report was prepared with the City of Helsinki Service Centre and Stara on the lifecycle impacts of workwear procurements. The report examined differences between the procurement of services and products. A similar report is currently being prepared about the lifecycle impacts of the procurement of ICT equipment. The reports will increase the City’s understanding of procurement methods that promote the smart use of resources and are smart in terms of the lifecycle impact.

The climate work related to procurements can be followed through Climate Watch, and the consideration of the circular economy can be monitored through Circular Economy Watch, which opened towards the end of the year.

Picture 16. One of the forms of procurement followed in the Environmental Report is business trips by air by City employees. The COVID-19 pandemic decreased their number in 2020.

Eyes on the future 

Management of responsible procurements, training and operating models will be made more systematic with the implementation of the procurement strategy. The areas to be developed next include the responsibility of mobile device procurements, better consideration of social and financial responsibility and the protection of biodiversity through procurements. The procurement work will focus more on creating an impact.