Sustainable construction in procurement

Learn about the importance of sustainability in government construction projects and view links to helpful resources.

What is 'sustainable construction'?

Sustainable construction involves the construction industry delivering built assets which:

  • enhance the quality of life and offer customer satisfaction
  • offer flexibility and the potential for user changes in the future
  • provide and support desirable natural and social environments
  • maximise the efficient use of resources 

The Sustainable Construction Group

Construction & Procurement Delivery (CPD) chairs the 'Sustainable Construction Group' which was set up in December 2004 to issue sustainable construction guidance for public sector projects. 

Membership of the group includes representatives from NI 'Centres of Procurement Expertise' and government construction clients.  

The work of the group is guided by the 'Policy Framework for Construction Procurement' and in particular the 'Government Construction Clients Group' (GCCG) Sustainability Action Plan (2012-2015) which sets targets and objectives.

'Achieving Excellence in Construction Procurement' - Sustainability Guide

The Cabinet Office Efficiency and Reform Group has a helpful publication 'Achieving Excellence in Construction Procurement: Guide 11 - Sustainability Guide', which builds further on themes identified by the NI 'Sustainable Construction Group'.

Sustainable construction guidance notes

A set of guidance notes has been published by the 'Sustainable Construciton Group' to advise on sustainable construction.

Topics include: 

  • general roles and responsibilities (of CPD, contracting authorities, Centres of Procurement Expertise, and project managers in relation to sustainable construction)
  • targets for recycling (as recycling is one of the most important targets for sustainable construction - a minimum of 10% of the material value of the project should derive from recycled or reused content)
  • construction, demolition and excavation waste materials (explaining proper disposal procedures and promoting best practice and the use of site waste management plans)
  • reuse and recycling of bulk inert materials / aggregates (in order to reduce consumption of natural resources, energy, transports costs and waste going to landfill)
  • use of the Considerate Constructors Scheme (which is a mandatory requirement of the Sustainability Action Plan)
  • demolition, dismantling, recovery and reuse (new procedures and practices for employers, project managers and contractors to follow)
  • sustainable design in the built environment (for all projects commenced after 1 June 2011)
  • durable and sustainable concrete (for use in government construciton projects)

Equality of opportunity and sustainable development 

The 'Equality of Opportunity and Sustainable Development in Public Sector Procurement' document contains guidance on how to integrate equality and sustainable development considerations into the procurement process.

Northern Ireland 'Sustainable Development Strategy'

In 2010 the NI Executive published the Sustainable Development Strategy Everyone's Involved - which provides a framework to inform the decisions and actions taken by individuals, groups and organisations in progressing the sustainability agenda.


Helpful information is also available on BREEAM (an environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings) and CEEQUAL (the sustainability assessment, rating and awards scheme for civil engineering).

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