Good practice

Sustainable procurement to deliver sustainable housing

Sustainable procurement to deliver sustainable housing
© Romolo Tavani, #81895775, 2018, source:
Materials, Waste, Carbon
Construction, Other
High cost
Resource savings: Waste:
5 641 tonnes of landfill diversion
Associated cost savings: Waste:
Co2 emission reduction:
74 tonnes
Premises and operation areas:
Supply operations, Waste and recycling
Size of company:
Large (more than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:

The right stuff ... partners in affordable housing

  • Cardiff Council sought the right partners to build affordable and sustainable housing that delivers benefits to the economy and community
  • Expert recommendations by WRAP helped the Council adapt its bidding process to secure partners who shared their vision
  • Estimated benefits include 5 641 tonnes of landfill diverted and 74 tonnes of CO2 avoided

Like many cities, Cardiff Council faces a challenging housing market and a shortage of affordable, sustainable housing. Its Housing Partnership Programme (HPP) has been tackling this while delivering community benefits and supporting jobs and training opportunities. The Council’s vision is for the new properties to be well-designed and built, sustainable and neatly integrated into the surroundings, as well as energy efficient. A WRAP Cymru procurement review highlighted additional areas in which this vision could be achieved.

The HPP covered the building of some 40 sites and up to 1 500 homes in three phases across the city, starting in 2015. The Council approved capital investment of up to € 38 million (£ 33 million) to support the project and fund the development of new affordable homes and deliver wider regeneration work.

The four overarching objectives were to:

  • Deliver affordable housing
  • Build sustainable homes
  • Maximise the Council’s resources (land and capital) 
  •  Build sustainable communities

Cardiff recognised that they could not achieve these aims alone, so they employed a 'competitive dialogue' procedure to appoint a partner that shares their vision. In terms of the design, the Council set out to exceed the relevant sustainable building standards outlined in Planning Policy Wales in relation to Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM, with added emphasis on renewable energy generation.

Cardiff Council sought advice via WRAP Cymru to identify further opportunities to embed sustainability into the contract, including maximising resource efficiency during construction and in the delivery of community benefits.

WRAP's recommendations included:

  • Strengthening elements of the offer, stressing the importance of community benefits aligned to EU Procurement Directives and the Council and Welsh Government’s Procurement Policy, to ensure targeted recruitment and training, and other benefits to citizens in Cardiff
  • Identifying opportunities to focus on environmental management and example questions on how this could be considered and evaluated were provided
  • Introducing 'fabric first' principles to boost building energy performance and resource efficiency in the construction phase of the work (i.e. referencing WRAP’s work on resource efficiency in the built environment)
  • Including targeted recruitment and training by the contracors as part of the programme to boost economic inactivity through housing investment
  • Using a detailed set of questions to better understand and detail the bidders' approach to all aspects of project delivery, such as use of recycled and reused materials, site waste management plans, and the treatment of waste in the supply chain

The results

The procurement documents were adapted accordingly to help secure the right partners to build sustainable homes and sustainable communities. Emphasising the importance of delivering community benefits at the early stage of procurement meant bidders were aware of the need to include robust plans to achieve these objectives.

The estimated impacts of the WRAP Cymru support for implementing resource efficiency in the construction of the community housing project include:

  • 5 641 tonnes of landfill diversion
  • € 57 315 (£ 50 211) cost savings
  • 74 tonnes of CO2

“The advice and guidance received from WRAP Cymru has proved invaluable in developing areas of our project and Procurement documents. WRAP were able to identify the key objectives of the HPP and provide additional support to help us develop evaluation criteria around the wider sustainable agenda [and] ensure that these aspects of the project are adequately addressed through our procurement process and that a robust evaluation criteria is developed. Whilst we have always been clear that sustainable development is a key aspect for the HPP, we very much wanted to ensure that wider community benefits are adequately addressed to reflect the development of sustainable communities. Support and guidance to develop criteria around targeted recruitment and training initiatives, waste management plans and the development of local supply chains has been most helpful.” - David Jaques, Housing Development Manager (Energy and Waste)

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