Linking environmental impact assessment and green procurement in the construction sector : opportunities and perspectives

Abstract: The construction sector has been greatly responsible for environmental pollution and problems related to sustainability. Hence, there is a crucial need to improve the sector’s environmental performance. In terms of assessing the environmental impacts of the construction sector at project and strategic level, policy instruments such as project-based environmental impact assessment (EIA) and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) play an important role. Another policy instrument, namely, green procurement has started to gain attention in the construction sector. Green procurement is a process that involves the incorporation of environmental requirements during the procurement of services and products. However, discussions on green procurement are rarely seen during the impact assessment (EIA and SEA) phase. Moreover, the construction process is usually multi-tiered, involving several stakeholders with varied objectives, which often leads to challenges concerning the translation of information produced in the impact assessment phase into action (during the construction phase). Therefore, this thesis aimed at analysing the way through which EIA as well as green procurement can improve the coordination between planning and construction phases. The thesis is based on literature review and interviews. This study envisaged an inter-connected process for EIA and green procurement, and reviewed the state of the art to motivate the postulation of such an inter-connected process. In addition, this study also reviewed recent development within procurement contracts, and focused on partnering in the construction industry. The results indicated that it would be appropriate to introduce green procurement during the pre-decision phase of an EIA. Further, the thesis chose renewable energy as a parameter for green procurement, and explored the perspectives of various categories of stakeholders in the Swedish construction on the inter-link between impact assessment and green procurement. The perspectives of the interviewed stakeholders indicate that the inter-link is required. However, the interview results show that there is a tendency in the Swedish construction sector to adopt various commercially available environmental assessment and certification tools. Furthermore, the thesis has mapped directions for future research. Future study should focus on the establishment of mechanisms for inter-connecting impact assessment and green procurement. It should investigate how the inter-link could be facilitated by certification tools being adopted. The future research should also examine how the inter-link can be developed together with concerned stakeholders through partnering.