Public procurement is going green in small Med municipalities
The EU has set binding targets of reducing our energy consumption through improvements in energy efficiency by 2030 by at least 32.5%. In this sense, Member states have adopted a number of important measures to improve energy efficiency at a European level. One of these measures is for EU countries to accomplish at least 3% per year of energy efficient renovation for public buildings. Indeed, buildings account for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption, 32% of its CO2 emissions.
It is in this framework that the Prominent MED project was conceived. From 2016 to 2020, the project focused on the use of public procurement of innovation (PPI) in order to stimulate the development of innovative solutions to increase energy efficiency, especially in public buildings. Public authorities are usually seen as entities that would rather work with traditional and well-known enterprises as they simply don’t have the flexibility of smaller infrastructures. That’s why they rarely perceive innovative solutions as the way to go.
But what is PPI ?
PPI is a tool that stimulates new technological or service solutions. It is used when certain construction projects can be addressed by innovative solutions that already exist and do not require new research and development for the contractor.
Public procurement of innovation are excellent in case of projects where a municipality is not able to work out an optimal solution by itself, and it needs to make use of the experience provided by economic operators, in order to get the better solution to improve solutions for citizens.
Pietro Flori, head of public works department, Municipality of Narni
The challenge of Prominent MED’s partnership, made of 10 partners from 5 European countries (Italy, Spain, Croatia, Portugal and France) was to enhance the level of knowledge and experience of small and medium size municipalities on PPI while making sure the process could be replicated in other similar MED areas. Four municipalities had been chosen for the pilot phase of the PPI implementation and involved the renovation of 4 public buildings:
The municipality of Narni, Italy
In Italy, the project involved the “Gianni Rodari” kindergarten’s refurbishment. Earthquake-proof reinforcement have been put in place, as well as the redevelopment of the internal environments of the school building: thermal and acoustic insulation, structural safety. The combination of technical interventions and didactic-pedagogical environment makes the refurbishment innovative in the sense that pupils can “interact” with their school: multisensory activities have been made possible through the installation of didactic panels made with ecological materials.
The municipality of Alzira, Spain
The project ambition was to transform an ancient storage building that was to be demolished, into a youth center, following a citizenship participatory process. The center would be equipped with adapted windows to maximize the use of natural light, ventilation, soundproofing, minimizing of waste, and use of sustainable materials.
The municipality of Mértola, Portugal
Mertola’s city hall and part of its museum was at the center of this renovation project. Its objective was the implementation of more efficient windows and new ventilation, both complying with the rules that are mandatory for historical buildings.
The municipality of Koprivnica, Croatia
The transformation of a 25 year-old prefabricated kindergarten building in Koprivnica implied the installation of a new waste supply and new drainage/sewage system, in a manner that was both innovative and cost effective without invasive works, as well as the installation of thermal protection in the walls to ensure better insulation.
It is a great accomplishment for the Croatian partner since these awards are given to procurements that have lead to significant improvements of public goods, services, processes and infrastructure. Moreover, considering that 60 Croatian municipalities own similar prefabricated buildings, of which 25 kindergartens were never renovated, the replication of such project can easily be put in place in the future.
The small municipalities involved in Prominent MED have had the opportunity to introduce PPI procedures in their public procurement policies, which ensured faster implementation of local strategies and plans aimed at sustainable development.
Furthermore, 22 transferability protocols were signed with other local authorities and private bodies for the replication and transferability of Prominent MED experience as well as the setting up of a transnational network among quadruple helix actors (public authorities, research sphere, enterprises cluster and civil society) dealing with the specific matters of application of PPI to the Energy efficiency advanced material.
While the Interreg MED Programme is currently encouraging its project partners to work towards capitalisation notably through the transfer and integration of their results into public policies, the Puglia Region and Innovapuglia have already capitalised on the Prominent MED results. Indeed, after continuous exchanges with the project partners, they have analysed how they could use the project’s methods to replicate its innovative public procurement process on its territories. The Italian region is currently investing on the innovative procurement instrument for policy innovation and territorial development strategy via the creation of the OpenLabs initiative, designed to translate demand for innovation by the public administration into concrete actions.