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Procurement for zero-emission construction sites: a comparative study of four European cities


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The public sector has a vital role in reducing emissions from construction activities and achieving environmental goals. Therefore, it is vital to investigate the opportunities for reducing the construction industry’s emissions through its procurement practices. This paper explores the opportunities and challenges of using green public procurement (GPP) to orchestrate stakeholder ecosystems, including public buyers, construction companies, subcontractors, and equipment suppliers, to achieve zero-emission construction sites—that is, ecosystems for zero-emission construction sites (EZEMCONS). The multiple case study methodology is employed to examine four European cities’ practices and experiences. The findings suggest that cities can improve low-emission machinery infrastructure, promote better networking for builders, and enhance cooperation through early market dialogues. Conversely, EZEMCONS pose challenges to innovation ecosystem (IE) orchestration, particularly when managing large-scale zero-emission infrastructure projects. Cities can use these findings to understand general IE implications for developing more mature EZEMCONS. More specifically, this study summarizes the potential opportunities and challenges of GPP for building mature IEs. GPP has been the subject of much environmental policy and sustainable production research; however, its application to EZEMCONS is limited. Consequently, this research contributes to the emergent literature on EZEMCONS, within the GPP context, by examining its opportunities and challenges.
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Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
1 3
Procurement forzero‑emission construction sites: acomparative study
offour European cities
RaymondStokke1· XinluQiu2· MagnusSparrevik1· ShannonTrulo1· IselinBorge1· LuitzendeBoer1
Accepted: 22 August 2022 / Published online: 10 September 2022
© The Author(s) 2022
The public sector has a vital role in reducing emissions from construction activities and achieving environmental goals.
Therefore, it is vital to investigate the opportunities for reducing the construction industry’s emissions through its procure-
ment practices. This paper explores the opportunities and challenges of using green public procurement (GPP) to orchestrate
stakeholder ecosystems, including public buyers, construction companies, subcontractors, and equipment suppliers, to achieve
zero-emission construction sites—that is, ecosystems for zero-emission construction sites (EZEMCONS). The multiple
case study methodology is employed to examine four European cities’ practices and experiences. The findings suggest that
cities can improve low-emission machinery infrastructure, promote better networking for builders, and enhance coopera-
tion through early market dialogues. Conversely, EZEMCONS pose challenges to innovation ecosystem (IE) orchestration,
particularly when managing large-scale zero-emission infrastructure projects. Cities can use these findings to understand
general IE implications for developing more mature EZEMCONS. More specifically, this study summarizes the potential
opportunities and challenges of GPP for building mature IEs. GPP has been the subject of much environmental policy and
sustainable production research; however, its application to EZEMCONS is limited. Consequently, this research contributes
to the emergent literature on EZEMCONS, within the GPP context, by examining its opportunities and challenges.
Keywords Ecosystems for zero-emission construction sites· Green public procurement· Innovation ecosystem·
Construction industry· Non-road mobile machinery
1 Introduction
The global construction industry is responsible for nearly
40% of energy- and process-related emissions. The final
energy demand of buildings rose 1% from 2018 and 7%
compared to 2010 (Desouza etal. 2020; Huang etal. 2018;
World Green Building Council (WGBC) 2019). In addition,
the capitalized carbon embedded in construction materials
and emitted from the construction activities and mainte-
nance can be substantially high, in some cases up to 90%
of the total emissions (Kardefors etal. 2021). Therefore,
the building and construction industry must accelerate its
decarbonization efforts to achieve the aims of the Paris
Agreement and United Nations Sustainable Development
In this paper we focus particularly on the emissions
from construction activities. Non-road mobile machinery
(NRMM), such as excavators but also trucks and cranes
which is essential in any construction project, is a critical
emission source in the construction sector (Desouza etal.
2020). The European Commission has regulated NRMM
emissions since 1997, and the Clean Vehicles Directive sets
procurement targets for public authorities in the member
states to purchase “clean vehicles.
The construction industry coordinates an enormous
variety of products and services and their transformation
into infrastructures such as roads, airports, office buildings,
and hospitals, and the process involves a range of actors,
such as contractors, material/equipment suppliers, archi-
tects, and builders (Sariola 2018; Zhu etal. 2019). While
describing the complexity of the industry, Marceau etal.
(1999) claimed that it could be considered a system rather
* Raymond Stokke
1 Department ofIndustrial Economics andTechnology
Management, Norwegian University ofScience
andTechnology, Trondheim, Norway
2 NTNU Business School, Norwegian University ofScience
andTechnology, Trondheim, Norway
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73Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
1 3
than a supply chain, where the number of relevant actors
perpetually increases. Thus, the industry consumes substan-
tial resources but does not fully address sustainable clean
resources, warranting a paradigm shift to models that aim
to conserve resources (Hossain etal. 2020). An ecosystem
model that incorporates a wide selection of relevant actors
(e.g., governments, professional associations, private capital
suppliers, certification bodies, end users of public infrastruc-
ture, distributors, and educational institutions) could encour-
age a successful shift to sustainable construction practices
(Adner 2006; de Vasconcelos Gomes etal. 2018; Dubois
and Gadde 2002; Gann and Salter 2000; Shin etal. 2020).
Construction projects are complex due to the multilay-
ered supply chains and machinery/building material logistics
(Tepeli etal. 2021; Winch 1998). Further, the industry is
project-based, which can affect the relationships between
actors. Gann and Salter (2000) highlighted that complex net-
work interactions often occur because construction industry
projects require organizations from different industrial sec-
tors. Dubois and Gadde (2002) described these relationships
as loose couplings. Therefore, the project-based nature of the
industry weakens organizations’ (and the industry’s) abilities
to learn and use innovative solutions (Blayse and Manley
2004). This is particularly important when orchestrating
ecosystems for zero-emission construction sites (EZEM-
CONS) since the technology and the construction practice
are novel and needs to be innovative and fast developing to
succeed. Mapping the EZEMCONS can provide support for
early upstream suppliers to explore opportunities and assess
the risk in promoting and leveraging green innovation, and
further influence public actors' use of policy instruments
(Stokke etal. 2022). Moreover, the public sector is a major
customer in the construction industry (Nærings og Fisk-
eridepartement [NFD] 2018; Varnäs etal. 2009). This pro-
vides increased opportunity to reduced emissions and better
resource use in construction activities across European cit-
ies, contributing to the achievement of climate and environ-
mental goals. Public buyers could use its strong purchasing
power to drive the adaptation of emission-free equipment
and technology in construction industry that otherwise might
not emerge (Preuss 2009; Ruparathna and Hewage (2015).
Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the opportunities
available to reduce the construction industry’s emissions
through its procurement practices, particularly focusing on
the industry’s direct on-site emissions, which are the largest
contributor and have been paid little attention in the past
(Huang etal. 2018).
Public procurement (PP) is considered an effective tool
for ensuring that the construction industry contributes
positively to achieving climate and environmental goals
(Braulio-Gonzalo and Bovea 2020; European Commis-
sion 2016). Hence, preformulated environmental require-
ments and criteria are prepared, for example, which can
be included in public tenders under many procurement
categories, such as roads and housing (European Commis-
sion 2016). European governments increasingly emphasize
that developing and using more environmentally sustain-
able building machinery will be an essential contribution
to achieving climate and environmental goals (NFD 2018).
Moreover, the innovation ecosystem (IE) has emerged as a
helpful perspective for considering zero-emission construc-
tion sites (ZEMCONS) because it enables examinations of
the industry’s supply chain and the interacting actors and
factors involved (Adner 2006; de Vasconcelos Gomes etal.
2018). A ZEMCON is here defined (Bellona 2019) as a con-
struction site in which construction activities are carried out
exclusively with zero-emission construction machinery or
equipment, and all transport of goods and people to and from
the site using zero-emission vehicles. The providence of the
energy carrier is not included.
The IE perspective allows a closer inspection of the sys-
temic relationships between specific construction sites and
the network of public and private actors involved in striv-
ing to reduce the emissions produced on-site (and to and
from the site), thereby forming an EZEMCON. However,
the available literature on green public procurement (GPP)
has not given such an ecosystem perspective much atten-
tion to date. The adoption of GPP is greatly varied across
regions internationally (Brammer and Walker 2011). In their
comprehensive review of the GPP literature, Cheng etal.
(2018, p. 781) concluded that “innovation is still a topic that
lacks relevant re-searches, either empirical or theoretical.”
Further, the GPP literature is also silent on how a city, or
city therein, could ensure integrated marketing of its EZEM-
CONS. These shortcomings, and the need to consider the
topic in different socioeconomic contexts, are a clear gap in
the literature. We aim to contribute to the extant literature
by focusing on the IE perspective for applying GPP, and
more specifically, how a city can reduce emission at con-
struction sites by applying EZEMCONS. The construction
industry in any given city accounts for a large proportion of
the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually, with a
significant proportion originating from construction machin-
ery and materials (Huang etal. 2018). This study examines
the development of EZEMCONS in four European cities
(Budapest, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Trondheim). Fur-
ther, it focuses on how PP can help reduce these emissions
and move the industry toward zero-emission construction
machinery and materials. This lens is justified because the
public sector is a major customer in these cities’ construction
industries (NFD 2018) and has a greater responsible for safe-
guarding the sustainability perspective than the private sec-
tor (Dragos and Neamtu 2014; Walker and Brammer 2009).
First, this paper explains ZEMCONS and how PP can
aid their development. Second, the conceptual framework of
innovation systems and their applicability to this study are
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74 Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
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discussed. The data collection procedure is described, fol-
lowed by a case description. Next, the findings are presented
and discussed. Finally, we present our conclusions, point to
the limitations of our study, and suggests avenues for further
research in this area.
2 Developing zero‑emission construction
Cities have become major contributors to climate change.
According to UN-Habitat, although cities account for less
than 2% of the Earth’s surface, they consume 78% of the
world’s energy and produce more than 60% of its GHG
emissions. Therefore, cities have a crucial role in the global
movement toward cutting emissions. Initiatives such as C40
Cities Climate Leadership Group, Climate-KIC, and ICLEI
are making great efforts toward a more sustainable and
decarbonized future. In Europe, many countries have made
strategic plans to achieve their climate and energy objec-
tives, especially regarding construction sites and NRMM.
However, only 16 out of 28 European Union (EU) coun-
tries report GHG emissions from construction machinery
(UN Climate Change n.d.). The 12 counties that do not
report their GHG emissions from construction machinery
are Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy,
Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Slovakia. Compared
to the significant decrease in EU air pollution emissions
from construction machinery, there are various patterns of
GHG emissions in different countries. While countries like
the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slove-
nia have decreased their GHG emissions, Austria, Belgium,
Finland, Luxemburg, Sweden, and Norway show different
levels of increasing GHG emissions (Desouza etal. 2020;
UN Climate Change n.d.).
Desouza etal. (2020) examined the 2016 London Atmos-
pheric Emissions Inventory, estimating that the construc-
tion industry contributes 34% of overall particulate matter
(PM10) and 7% of overall nitrogen oxides (NOx), constitut-
ing the largest and fifth-largest sources, respectively. Moreo-
ver, current on-road light-duty diesel vehicle emission tests
have revealed substantial variances between real-world NOx
emissions and findings from laboratory-based regulatory
tests. Desouza etal.’s (2020) study aimed to quantify the
actual tailpipe NOx, carbon dioxide, and particles released
by 30 of the most frequently utilized construction machines
in the London area. The highest NOx emissions (g/kWh)
were observed from older engines (Stage III-A ~ 4.88g/kWh
and III-B ~ 4.61 g/kWh), which condensed substantially
(~ 78%) in more modern engines (Stage IV ~ 1.05g/kWh)
because of exhaust after treatments and more advanced
engine management systems (Desouza etal. 2020).
While this study’s focus is not the specific emissions from
NRMMs in different cities, the varying degree of emissions
provides a context for approaching the development of ZEM-
CONS. Local and national governments can combat these
variable emissions by using PPs more effectively to enact
sustainable measures. PP expenditures amount to 13% of
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
countries’ gross domestic products; hence, PP is recognized
as an important instrument for facilitating emission reduc-
tions and adopting innovative and sustainable technology.
PP can drive low-carbon solutions from the demand side by
creating a lead market. With other demand-side tools, such
as regulations and standards, the emergent practice of GPP
can be adopted as a critical tool to achieve climate goals.
GPP is an often-used demand-side environmental policy
instrument (Braulio-Gonzalo and Bovea 2020; Cheng etal.
2018). It is considered a relevant framework for this study
for two reasons. First, this study focuses on construction
sites striving for innovative green solutions. Second, the con-
struction industry has a significant environmental footprint
and is of high budgetary importance to public actors. The
public sector characterizes the industry as having the oppor-
tunity to influence the market and provide an ever-increasing
number of green alternatives (European Commission 2016).
Its relevance is emphasized because the European Commis-
sion (2016) designated the construction industry as one of
four sectors that should be utilized for GPP. Material and
equipment selections for construction projects were high-
lighted for having great potential for improvements regard-
ing their environmental footprints (European Commission
2016). It is crucial to thoroughly examine environmental
requirements and criteria to understand how GPP practices
can benefit cities and their development of ZEMCONS (Iga-
rashi etal. 2013, 2015).
While the construction industry is all-encompassing, our
scope is only on the construction sites, which pertains to the
construction process not the actual roads or buildings, or
emission from specific materials. While recent studies have
examined PP in terms of carbon embodied in construction
materials, such as low-carbon cement (Stokke etal. 2022),
as well as energy for transport of masses, site operations
and maintenance (Huang etal. 2018; Kadefors etal. 2021),
little extant research exists on NRMM and the actual con-
struction sites.
Furthermore, if existing market solutions cannot deliver
the environmental performance that the public sector neces-
sitates for these construction sites, the public sector can use
its procurement practices to demand more environmentally
sustainable solutions. Such a procurement process would
be both green and innovative (Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development 2011; Rainville 2017). Thus,
this study applies the innovative GPP theme to understand
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75Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
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cities’ (as procuring organizations) processes to succeed
with green innovation in the market.
3 Innovative ecosystems forzero‑emission
construction sites
The IE concept is discussed to understand the prospects
of an innovative solution for integration into the market.
Section3 aims to theoretically envisage how the general IE
concept can inform studies of EZEMCONS.
The IE concept stipulates that the success and safeguard-
ing of each innovation activity will depend on many actors’
abilities to collaborate in the EZEMCONS. Innovation eco-
systems are comprehensive; however, this paper focuses on
two aspects. The first aspect addresses the importance of
knowledge sharing and information flow—that is, how cit-
ies’ knowledge is made available and applied internally and
externally. This implies that it is crucial that cities and other
actors in the IE fully understand knowledge sharing when
developing EZEMCONS. The second aspect concerns the
influencing factors in the construction industry. The con-
struction industry is complex, which affects the prerequisites
for pursuing innovation. The IE concept makes it possible
to consider many relationships and potential ripple effects
between actors and their concurrent activities, which can
help answer this study’s main query. Ecosystem relation-
ships are critical for innovation in the construction industry
to facilitate knowledge sharing and information flow (Blayse
and Manley 2004; Miozzo and Dewick 2002). Strong rela-
tionships between actors in an ecosystem can increase the
degree of information flow between cities and companies.
The flow of information can, for example, occur through
interactions concerning early market dialogues, product
integrations (between builders, fitters, and installation tech-
nicians), and sale settlements (Blayse and Manley 2004).
The construction industry’s “loose” ecosystem relation-
ships can enable any project to be considered an experi-
mental arena where innovations are developed in response
to project requirements. Therefore, temporary coalitions can
lower the threshold for initiating ZEMCONS projects. The
complexity of the construction industry indicates the high
uncertainty and risks of the innovation system. Cities must
be able to identify a project’s innovation risks to successfully
integrate green, innovative practices into the supply chain
by influencing public policies (Adner 2006). This, coupled
with insights into how construction projects can use dynamic
capabilities, which is the capability to integrate, build and
reconfigure internal and external competences (Linde etal.
2021), to reduce risk factors which is considered crucial for
a project’s success.
Moreover, because IE theory increases the number of
relevant actors, the focal entity (e.g., a city) must consider
the theory to succeed in its innovation (Adner and Kapoor
2010). IE theory is considered appropriate for examining
a set of actors’ collective abilities to innovate and a city’s
opportunities (using its procurement powers) to mobilize
and activate its surroundings. Local and national govern-
ments have a vital role in orchestrating EZEMCONS. Shin
etal. (2020) explained the underlying reason for this:
Private suppliers experience various obstacles when
they launch, develop, and finally commercialize the
innovations. One of the main challenges is associ-
ated with the market uncertainty associated with the
expected demand for potential innovation outcomes. If
the expected demand for innovative goods is low, the
potential profits and returns from the investments asso-
ciated with the development and commercialization
of new products and processes are low. Therefore, it
is difficult for private firms to decide whether to invest
… However, the public sector with the purchasing
power under the public procurement for innovation
(PPI) scheme can reduce uncertainty by guaranteeing
and enlarging the size of future demand for innovative
solutions. (p. 193)
Both innovative and green solutions are necessary for
ZEMCONS to function optimally. This ranges from the
availability and logistics of zero-emission machinery to
innovative PP processes. Building on Shin etal.’s (2020)
model, we propose that governments and, in this study, cities
could act as intermediaries to developing EZEMCONS by
managing the direct and indirect effects of procurement, as
illustrated in Fig.1. The IE context is applied to assess direct
and indirect methods for the city to influence actors (Gomes
etal. 2018; Kapoor and Furr 2015), where indirect meth-
ods of influence can be just as effective as direct ones (Shin
etal. 2020). This is assumed to be applicable, for example,
if the city has a close connection with a local contractor
with overlapping interests and a relatively weak relation-
ship with builders. The indirect effect is considered one of
the major contributions from the IE context. Other actors
can also wield influence, in particular public actors such as
national ministries and research institutes or universities.
Moreover, indirect customers, such as contractors who can
provide input that affects a construction site’s environmental
ambition, or component suppliers may, in turn, influence
cities with sustainable development. As such, IE theory
emphasize that the focal city can influence a range of differ-
ent actors, either directly or indirectly (Gomes etal. 2018;
Kapoor and Furr 2015). The respective city’s potential for
direct and indirect influence could be reinforced by relations
between actors in the innovation ecosystem. This potential
is contingent on the degree to which the city can utilize PP
instruments and their understanding of the dominant aspects
that affect their own innovation ecosystem.
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76 Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
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Shin etal.’s (2020) model is highly relevant for EZEM-
CONS as it builds on PP research as mission-oriented inno-
vation systems policy (Edquist and Zabala-Iturriagagoitia
2012; Edquist etal. 2015). Adopting this systemic method
to interpret EZEMCONS barriers and opportunities, it is
expected to offer generalized and conceptual context to real-
ize the system-wide impacts of EZEMCONS, which can be
applied to undertake more systematic assessments of the
relevant policies. Moreover, it can inform the orchestration
and operational process of future EZEMCONS projects
with explanations of both the barriers and opportunities. In
addition, the dynamics of multifaceted socio-technical, and
environmental conditions related with the PP procedures
are included (Shin etal. 2020). With this conceptual frame-
work, policymakers and researchers can identify barriers
and opportunities for socio-technical and system transitions
(Lingegård etal. 2021; Sourani and Sohail 2011; Trindade
etal. 2017; Vejaratnam etal. 2020), and implement tailored
policy interventions to overcome system failures when
designing and evaluating EZEMCONS policies in practice
(Shin etal. 2020).
In sum, the construction industry and ZEMCONS pro-
jects are characterized with high complexity, uncertainty and
risks, which calls for public buyers to be actively engaged to
influence GPP, so as to impose change in the ecosystem from
the supplier side. Many cities use GPP to stimulate innova-
tions thereby encouraging sustainable development in the
construction industry. However, there is a lack of systematic
understanding of how GPP practices shape innovation pro-
cesses and affect other components of the system (Liu etal.
2019; Rainville 2017; Shin etal. 2020). Therefore, there is
a need to examine both the direct and indirect effects associ-
ated with GPP to better understand the orchestration within
the innovation ecosystem. All actors in an EZEMCON can,
in theory, interact with one another, and those interactions
form the structures for developing the construction practices
for GPP interventions. Hence, this study strives to concep-
tualize innovation ecosystem structures and how GPP is dif-
fused through the interactions between the various actors
within an EZEMCON. Consequently, this study examines
the influence of GPP on the respective EZEMCONS, includ-
ing its direct and indirect effects, to map and evaluate poten-
tial changes within innovation ecosystems.
4 Methodology
This research adopted a pragmatist research paradigm and
used a multiple case study methodology for mapping, pri-
marily relying on interviews, participatory observations, and
Fig. 1 Innovation system approach to understanding the effects of public procurement for innovation (PPI); R&D = research and development
(Shin etal. 2020)
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77Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
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document studies (Yin 2018). This mapping provides the
“baseline” of current practices in the industry. Four Euro-
pean cities contributed to the research as part of a project
funded by the EU Horizon 2020 program, including Copen-
hagen, Helsinki, Trondheim, and Budapest. Hence, number
and the choice of cases was informed by the design of the
EU project and can therefore be regarded as a convenience
sample. Still, the specific choice for these cities was made
by the funding body of the EU and not influenced by the
researchers. Furthermore, with the exception of Trondheim
the researchers had no previous collaboration with the cities,
further limiting the drawbacks of convenience sampling in
general. The number of four cities was manageable in terms
of available resources, while providing a variety in the con-
text for each case, both in terms of relative size, geopolitical
location and environmental conditions. The authors were
involved in the project as researchers and facilitators of sev-
eral meetings in which the cities exchanged experiences and
knowledge regarding their efforts toward developing EZEM-
CONS. An important project activity for each of the four
cities was planning and conducting an early market dialogue
event concerning ZEMCONS. Each city was approached for
semi-structured interviews, both prior to and after the market
dialogue events. The interviews covered the following three
main topics:
1. the cities’ current general strategies for sustainability
and procurement, and in particular in relation to con-
2. procurement methods and criteria in tendering for lower
emission/fossil-free construction sites;
3. barriers and critical success factors of cities’ PP for ena-
bling EZEMCONS from the buyer’s perspective.
4.1 Data collection
The data collection for this study occurred in three phases:
(1) pre-interviews (before early market dialogues); (2)
participatory observations of actual dialogue events; and
(3) post-interviews (after early market dialogues). The
first interviews with the representatives from Budapest,
Copenhagen, and Helsinki were conducted through Skype
in November 2019, and the data collection phase was con-
cluded in April 2021 (see Table1). The city of Budapest
started planning a dialogue event, but ultimately did not
carry out such an event, and hence, no specific follow-up
interviews were held with this city. In this study we used
purposive sampling for how the initial list participants were
created, and the selection of final interviewees was based on
several criteria: (1) the informants needed to have practical
experience with EZEMCONS; (2) the informants needed to
be managerial staff within the respective departments; (3)
the informants had to have experience with implementing
GPP in their respective cities.
The interviews were conducted in two phases with each
city. In our sampling strategy we determined that satura-
tion is more significant than size. The respective sample
size and selection of uniquely qualified informants rein-
forced the qualitative data (and subsequent analysis) with
in-depth interpretations of the emergent factors in develop-
ing EZEMCONS (Antos and Ventola 2008; Carson etal.
2001; Miles and Huberman 1994). Having these kinds of
common denominators between informants allowed for syn-
thesized data among interviewees to achieve consistency, but
also allowed us to control for and manage dissenting views.
This is because the informants were uniquely positioned to
recount contemporary challenges and experiences with the
respective themes in our study, and were therefore also more
relevant than the sample size, since they could extrapolate
detailed knowledge relevant to EZEMCONS developments.
This type of specific expertise has not been incorporated in
preceding empirical research in this particular topic-area.
The list of interviewees and their roles are shown in
Table2. Each interview was one and a half hours. They were
recorded and subsequently transcribed. The participants
received draft transcripts and were allowed to proofread
Table 1 Overview of interview and dialogue schedule
City Pre-interviews Early market dia-
Budapest November 2019 N/A N/A
Copenhagen November 2019 November 2020 April 2021
Helsinki November 2019 December 2020 April 2021
Trondheim December 2019
(written form)
November 2020 April 2021
Table 2 List of interviewees
No City Department
P01 Budapest Group for Project Preparation
P02 Budapest Procurement Department
P03 Budapest Department of Development
and Project Management
P04 Copenhagen Finance Department
P05 Copenhagen Climate Secretariat
P06 Copenhagen Department of Construction
P07 Copenhagen Building Section
P08 Helsinki Urban Environment Division
P09 Helsinki Urban Environment Division
P10 Helsinki Urban Environment Division
P11 Trondheim Department of Procurement
P12 Trondheim Environment Unit
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78 Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
1 3
them. Due to planning difficulties, it was impossible to
gather the necessary participants from Trondheim at the
same time for one interview. Therefore, the Trondheim rep-
resentatives gathered the information internally by contact-
ing colleagues in the city and answering the questions from
the interview guide in written form. Next, the main points
from the interview transcripts were summarized in a series
of tables, capturing the answers from each city.
According to our interviews, all four cities have long-term
urban climate and energy strategies (see Table3), such as
Budapest 2030 Long-Term Urban Development Concept,
Carbon–Neutral Helsinki 2035 Action Plan, and Trondheim
energy and climate plan.
5 Case study results
Section5 describes and analyzes the data gathered for this
study. First, a conceptual model for EZEMCONS is pro-
vided, outlining how different types of actors, both internal
and external, are positioned vis-a-vis each other and interact
with each other. Second, interview excerpts and observations
from the market dialogues carried out by Trondheim, Copen-
hagen and Helsinki are presented. Third, the data regarding
the cities´ PP strategies and ecosystem orchestrations are
5.1 Conceptual model
Based on the interviews and observations of the early mar-
ket dialogues, a general conceptual model of establishing
EZEMCONS was developed (see Fig.2). The ecosystem
contains an internal section, shown within the circle on the
right-hand side of Fig.2, comprising the different internal
actors in a city, typically a purchasing unit, environmental
management unit, real estate division, engineering/technical
unit, and politicians. The conceptual model was developed
based on the interview data and the model consolidates the
findings from the interviews from the different cities. As
such, we analyze the findings using the conceptual model
as the common denominator.
Although cities and government agencies at the regional
level are typically considered “buyers” in GPP literature, it
is important to recognize the internal complexity of these
actors. The external part of the ecosystem (see the left-
hand side of Fig.2) includes what is usually referred to as
the supply chain: the construction firms, their subcontrac-
tors, and upstream equipment suppliers. However, as Fig.2
demonstrates, the supply chain is far from linear, and it can
be more accurately described as a network. There are also
additional external members of the ecosystem, consisting
of electricity providers and related infrastructure and ser-
vices. The circular arrows in the center of Fig.2 show the
interactions between the internal and external parts of the
ecosystem, which are facilitated by early market dialogues.
However, the top of Fig.2 shows that such interactions may
also (simultaneously) occur at higher system levels (i.e.,
regional, national, and international levels).
5.2 Interviews andmarket dialogues
Each of the four case study cities has GPP strategies. During
this study, the Budapest Department of Procurement was
actively preparing a sustainable, green, innovation public
procurement strategy based on their previous experiences
and knowledge of GPP. The department was also prepar-
ing an innovative green responsible and social procurement
strategy, hoping for it to be accepted in early 2020. Regard-
ing the current sustainability strategies and challenges con-
cerning EZEMCONS (overall goals and practices) in Buda-
pest, an interviewee answered:
I will summarize the middle- and long-term develop-
ment of Budapest’s climate-related strategies. First, I
would like to highlight that the city of Budapest or
the city system or the subgovernment system is pecu-
liar in Budapest. We have 23 district cities. There’s
no hierarchy between the city of Budapest and district
cities. (P02)
Table 3 Sustainability strategies in the four cities
Cities Sustainability strategies
Budapest Budapest 2030 Long-Term Urban Development Concept, Integrated Urban Development Strategy (Budapest 2020), Climate
Strategy (with GHG emission goals), Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans, Smart Budapest, Green Surfaces program
Copenhagen CPH 2025 Climate Plan: carbon dioxide neutrality by 2025, including energy consumption, energy production, green mobility,
and city administration (one of many plans to support sustainability initiatives)
Helsinki Carbon–Neutral Helsinki 2035 Action Plan: carbon–neutral by 2035 (Action 46 addresses emission-free construction sites); City
of Helsinki environmental policy (2012): nine life cycle goals for all public service building projects, including new buildings
and renovations
Trondheim Trondheim energy and climate plan: reduce GHG emissions by 80% by 2030 based on 1991 emissions; the council is expected to
pass a zero-emissions goal for all municipal construction activities by 2023
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79Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
1 3
This non-hierarchical structure warrants an open nego-
tiation procedure when dealing with complex systems:
Yes, [an] open procedure for sure. I would also men-
tion that if the procedure and nature of the contract
require complex systems, it’s the negotiation proce-
dure which is likely to be used … Throughout the
tendering phase, I would highlight that in Hungary,
since 2016, there’s an electronic public procurement
system, which is closed to the economic operators.
Copenhagen has also established sustainability stand-
ards for construction and civil work since 1998, and the
new procurement policy from 2019 has dedicated a whole
chapter to sustainability and sustainable procurement.
Moreover, Copenhagen follows a national guideline for
the life cycle costs of buildings in Denmark. Regarding
building and construction, the Green Building Coun-
cil Denmark applies the DGNB certification process in
Copenhagen (similar to the German certification system
for buildings) for measuring the sustainability of build-
ings and urban areas. Copenhagen focuses on collabora-
tion both internally within the cities’ departments and with
other external actors in the innovation ecosystem:
It is an open forum, everyone who is broadly inter-
ested in this topic is welcome, ranging from machinery
manufacturers and machinery lenders to contractors,
industry organizations, other builders, other buyers,
and it has grown through word-of-mouth and external
actors have often contacted us asking to participate.
The market dialogue observations from Copenhagen
showed that they implemented it as a cooperation forum,
which is ongoing. The forum strives to connect the city with
academia, small businesses, larger builders like Construction
Copenhagen (Byggeri København), and industry associa-
tions, such as Danish Construction Industry (Dansk Bygge-
industri). Dansk Byggeindustri is an industry association
in DI Byggeri, where member companies have industrial
productions and processes and supply materials/solutions
to the construction industry. The focus of these industry
associations is strengthening the productivity of individual
members and throughout the value chain. Dansk Byggein-
dustri supports interdisciplinary collaborations between the
sections and fellowship and creates value for the members.
The scope, scale and proactive nature of the market dia-
logues are addressed:
Fig. 2 Conceptual model of ecosystems for zero-emission construction sites (created by the authors)
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80 Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
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It was limited to focus on NRMM within the con-
struction sites … and in relation to the timeslots we
were to meet, there was a willingness to meet 3-4
times a year, or as needed, so that we could have pro-
active access to this agenda and the main purpose we
have to restructure the entire construction industry to
use fossil or emission free machinery. (P05)
In Helsinki, the environmental policy states that all
procurement processes must include environmental crite-
ria. The procurement department has also created strate-
gies focusing on environmental aspects and demands set
by programs such as the Carbon–Neutral Helsinki 2035
Action Plan. An interviewee explained:
This is the way we are developing our criteria and
the way we are doing the construction work future.
Yes. That’s the point of the ecosystem to all come
together and The Benchmark and learn from each
other … Some are more constant; some cities have
their constraints specific to that city, which has to
find a new solution, [a] new way. (P08)
The early market dialogue connected entities in Hel-
sinki, including the Green Building Council Finland,
technical traders, professional property owners, real estate
investors, corporate real estate managers and construction
clients, and Motiva, which coordinates voluntary Finnish
Green Deal agreements to reduce emissions at construc-
tion sites. Moreover, the pre-market dialogue demonstrated
that Helsinki had already established an urban environ-
ment division for prioritizing responsible procurement and
enhancing cooperation:
We have this responsible procurement group, the urban
environment division. So that group has on its again
… to prioritize procurement categories, which these
criteria should be developed. So, we are on the way
and processing it with experts. And I know [they] don’t
know the results yet. But I think that there will be the
kind of scheduling of the procurement for which differ-
ent kind[s] of responsibility criteria will be developed.
And then, we also try to define the way to cooperate
between different entities. (P10)
Moreover, the ambitious approach to low-emission stand-
ards in Helsinki was further discussed after the early market
All the cities can use tighter criteria. For example,
roadworks are quite tight; it’s fossil-free, even though
the Green Deal say[s] that it’s from 2023, most are
now from private contractors, and everything should
be fossil-free, all our worksites, from 2025. So, in
infrastructure roadworks, they are already asking for
fossil-free and tighter emission standards. (P09)
In Trondheim, the procurement department had finished
a new set of environmental requirements and criteria for
construction procurements. It was also expected that the
city council would decide that all construction in the city
must have zero-emissions by 2023. Regarding construction
projects in Trondheim city, the main steps and departments
involved in the EU’s procurement procedures and the city’s
current strategies were discussed:
On average, we mostly use open procedure[s], but we
occasionally also use negotiation procedure[s]. Fur-
ther, the city also looks into innovation partnership[s],
but this is not commonly used yet. (P11)
The following examples were described regarding
changes to the city’s procurement processes, which can sup-
port the inclusion of higher environmental standards and
innovations in urban development projects:
A new set of environmental requirements and crite-
ria for construction is currently being finished … The
refurbishment of the city square is done using fossil-
free NRMM. It also attempted to use an electric exca-
vator, but this failed due to a lack of infrastructure
… This project also included requirements regarding
fossil-free transportation to and from the construction
site, and district heating was used instead of diesel
generators for heating purposes. In the Granåsen ski
arena, electricity is used as a heat source instead of
diesel generators. Reports of all transportation have
led to some changes in transport of personnel to and
from the construction site. (P12)
The early market dialogue from Trondheim also illus-
trated the central role of the city’s largest energy supplier,
Tensio, in providing infrastructure for builders and NRMM.
In the post-interview, it was revealed that the early market
dialogue yielded some pilot projects for a new ZEMCONS
project in the city.
Regarding the application of environmental criteria in
GPPs, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Trondheim have started
including environmental criteria for GPPs. Budapest was
not using environmental criteria; however, both cities have
a committed plan for doing so in the near future.
5.3 Public procurement strategies
In Table4, the findings regarding the cities´ PP strategies are
summarized, also specifying key features of their practice in
terms of the GPP procedures used, the methods for assess-
ing environmental performance by the bidders and actions
aimed at innovation ecosystem (IE) orchestration. Table4
shows the specific picture for each city, but overall, we see
that in each of the cities, a certain strategic or policy require-
ment or target exists to which GPP processes can be aligned.
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81Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
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The cities typically employ different EU PP procedures, but
the traditional methods, in particular the open bidding pro-
cedure seem to dominate. At the same time, each of the
cities also mentions the use of alternative procedures and
some form of dialogue with market partners. When awarding
contracts (as part of GPP method), none of the cities purely
awards solely on price, but the inclusion of environmental
criteria differs among the cities. Each of the cities can be
said to either have started to develop knowledge about it
(e.g., exploring the use of life cycle cost (LCC)) or using
environmental award criteria to some extent. Regarding
IE orchestration, the cities exhibit varying degrees of how
comprehensive and dense the connections between different
ecosystem actors are, but again, each city at least operates
with a certain level of orchestration activity toward some
external actors, for example intermediaries, small business
and research institutions.
We present the following typology (Table5) from the
findings (Table4) to improve shared learning for other cities
regarding GPP and EZEMCONS:
Across the four cities, the following summary of actions
was observed. Trondheim has begun the electrifying pro-
cess of construction machinery with several pilot projects
in the cities, and Helsinki began its first pilot project in
2020. Budapest does not own any fossil-free or fossil-lower
emission/hybrid/electrical NRMM; however, some utility
Table 4 Public procurement strategies in the four case study cities
IE innovation ecosystem, PP public procurement, GPP green public procurement, ZEMCONS zero-emission construction sites, LCC life cycle
cost, EZEMCONS ecosystems for zero-emission construction sites
Cities PP strategies and key features of the pp practice regarding construction projects
Budapest Planning a sustainable, green, PP innovation strategy and preparing new green, responsible social procurement strategy
GPP procedure mostly open, with negotiation when contracts require complex systems; few market dialogues with suppliers, but
with promising results; follow European Commission’s GPP guidelines, Hungarian eco-label guidelines, and PP best practices
GPP method “Best value procurement,” 70% price and 30% quality, and no environmental criteria; total ownership cost and LCC/
analysis not used; Pathfinder project on LCC/analysis conducted in 2019
IE orchestration Flat hierarchy for connecting government departments and cities; loose engagement and knowledge sharing with
wider actors (e.g., innovation intermediaries, small businesses, and research institutions) to develop ZEMCONS
Copenhagen Sustainability standards for construction and civil work (since 1998); new procurement policy (2019) with a chapter about sustain-
ability and sustainable procurements; national guidelines for LCC; DGNB certifications for measuring the sustainability of
buildings and urban areas
GPP procedure Few innovative partnerships (mostly open, competitive dialogue, or closed); some market dialogue but not within
a larger strategy; one successful, larger event for all actors in the value chain (e.g., suppliers demonstrating equipment)
GPP method Assessment criteria usually 60% to 70% price, 20% environment, and 10% traffic
IE orchestration Dense connections between key actors, particularly builders, ranging from large public builders to small busi-
nesses; knowledge perpetually shared between internal stakeholders within the city and with surrounding cities; ongoing coop-
eration forums allow actors to develop a “shorthand” with other actors, facilitating the development of mature EZEMCONS;
knowledge sharing and increased cooperation with Oslo
Helsinki Environment policy stipulates that all procurement processes must include environmental criteria; responsible procurement group
creates strategies focusing on environmental aspects and aims of programs (e.g., Carbon–Neutral Helsinki 2035 Action Plan);
procurement strategies for different levels (e.g., city procurement strategy, Urban Environment Division’s strategy for sustain-
GPP procedure Mostly open; some negotiation and competitive dialogues, and, to a lesser degree, innovation partnerships and
alliance models
GPP method Housing sector has a sustainable residential construction procedure based on the RTS Environmental Classifica-
tion; ~ 50% of procurements include environmental criteria; new criteria are added on a case-by-case basis; city aiming for
greener PPs; some testing of LCC and carbon footprinting; some market dialogue (open meetings and sometimes surveys) but
not always including environmental aspects
IE orchestration Underpinned by machine bureaucracy that connects government departments and third-party knowledge organi-
zations; loose engagement and information flow with a broader group of actors in EZEMCONS, including innovation intermedi-
aries, small businesses, and research institutions
Trondheim New environmental requirements and criteria for constructions currently being finished
GPP procedure Mostly open, occasionally negotiation; innovative partnerships not commonly used; the need for pre-tender market
dialogue being considered to assess the market situation and obtain feedback from suppliers about the intended procurement
approach (e.g., how to apply environmental requirements); no established dialogue strategy
GPP method “Best value procurement” and “total costs of ownership” used to some extent; 70% cost and 30% quality or guarantee
on technical inspection; no specific weight for environmental-related criteria (usually 12.5% for building projects); a larger
weight of environmental criteria for PP is expected in the future
IE orchestration A dense network of key actors in EZEMCONS, particularly builders and energy infrastructure/suppliers;
knowledge is shared between internal stakeholders within the city and other cities; wide range of actors involved in early market
dialogues allows healthy information flow, aiding the development of EZEMCONS; knowledge sharing and increased coopera-
tion with Tensio (energy supply and infrastructure); wide range of (third-party) environmental agencies
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82 Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
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companies owned by the city do possess such equipment.
Copenhagen does not have a policy regarding low-/zero-
emission NRMM; however, there is a “spearhead” pro-
ject regarding NRMM in the city’s climate plan. Helsinki
planned to have its first zero-emissions construction site pilot
by 2020, aiming to increase the use of electrical machinery.
In Trondheim, NRMM accounts for approximately 20% of
the total direct emissions in the city. Currently, Trondheim
has a few fossil-/-emission-free construction sites and a
few electrical NRMMs (but these are not for construction
6 Findings: barriers anddrivers
Construction sites are a significant contributor to air pollu-
tion and GHG emissions, especially in urban areas. Accord-
ing to this study’s observations and interviews, the four cit-
ies have already raised awareness about the importance of
reducing emissions from construction site machinery and
have implemented greener construction measures in vary-
ing degrees. Through innovation ecosystem theory, it was
observed that the cities have different approaches to their
functions as intermediaries and, in turn, how they orches-
trate complementary actors and knowledge sharing in the
system. This influences the effectiveness of information flow
and readiness of cities’ low-emission machinery infrastruc-
ture, connectivity for builders, and cooperation through early
market dialogues. While the conceptual model (Fig.2) illus-
trates the common denominators for orchestrating EZEM-
CONS there are differing barriers and critical success factors
between the cities.
Zero-emission construction machinery is a more envi-
ronmentally sustainable solution for construction projects;
however, it is still relatively new and expensive. Further,
it requires sufficient energy supplies at construction sites.
Based on the interviews in this study, the four cities have
identified several barriers to adopting zero-emission con-
struction machinery. The first barrier concerns high costs
(Budapest, Copenhagen, and Trondheim), which are related
to the expense of the machine itself; it can also be costly if
the machine uses biofuel (Copenhagen and Helsinki). The
high cost of the machinery also leads to a limited market
because few buyers or procurers can afford it (Budapest).
Second, the technical barriers are critical (Budapest and
Trondheim). The Budapest representatives mentioned the
technical barriers of using low-/zero-emission construction
machinery, and the lack of relevant knowledge can be chal-
lenging. The high technical barriers also lead to a limited
number of electrical machinery suppliers in the market
(Copenhagen and Helsinki), and it may be anticompetitive
when there are few suppliers (Budapest).
Third, low-emission construction machinery requires
local infrastructure support (Helsinki and Trondheim).
When the demand increases, the charging infrastructure in
the construction sites and their expenses can also increase
(Helsinki). Further, not all construction sites have access to
high-voltage power supplies; thus, the lack of infrastructure
can be problematic (Trondheim). This barrier also applies to
biofuel machinery: the site may encounter biofuel delivery
problems, especially if the demand increases (Helsinki).
Finally, public authorities have a critical role in over-
coming these barriers (Budapest, Helsinki, and Trond-
heim). Political cooperation is required to adopt innovative
solutions (Budapest), and strong political will from local
authorities is critical (Trondheim). Moreover, adopting low-/
zero-emission machinery means that the local procurement
department must adjust its current procurement strategy to
include related criteria in the procurement process (Helsinki
and Trondheim).
Some critical success factors were identified in the inter-
views in this study (see Table6). First, raising awareness
of the market and decision-makers about ZEMCONS is
critical for adopting zero-emission machinery (Budapest).
It is important to emphasize the advantages of ZEMCONS
to local authorities and the market, such as the economic
gains, reducing GHG emissions, and decreasing construction
site noises (Copenhagen). Second, local contractors must
Table 5 Public procurement typology for EZEMCONS
PP strategies and key features IE orchestration
GPP procedure Open—with negotiations
Innovation partnerships
Market dialogues
Competitive dialogues
Alliance models
Feedback from suppliers
Flat hierarchy
for connecting
Dense connec-
tions between
key actors
Broad network
of key actors
in EZEM-
Ongoing coop-
GPP method Best value procurement
Assessment criteria
Total costs of ownership
Environmental classification
Focus groups
Loose engage-
ment and
forums with
Dependent on
the form of
between inter-
nal stakehold-
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83Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
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be considered for promoting ZEMCONS to increase local
competitiveness (Copenhagen). Third, effective market dia-
logues with suppliers are an efficient way of discovering the
possibilities in the market (Helsinki). Moreover, sustainable
PPs can be an excellent way to promote zero-emission con-
struction machinery.
6.1 Summary offindings
The case study analysis identified that cities may have lower
practical GPP competence than larger building companies,
mainly because they have limited resources and expertise in
the field (although this is increasing). Consequently, envi-
ronmental considerations are prioritized less frequently. In
practical terms, this observation is a barrier to formulating
environmental requirements and criteria and assessing the
procurement’s environmental impacts. This finding indicates
that cities should consider the client’s size when selecting
potential actors for construction projects (directly or indi-
rectly). Similarly, cities can encourage and facilitate increas-
ing the competencies of builders and contractors, regardless
of their size. However, builders and contractors must have
a satisfactory degree of dynamic capabilities to adapt to a
changing environment in their daily operations.
7 Discussion
By adopting a multiple case study approach and applying
the PPI model by Shin etal. (2020), this study aimed to
aid in the development of mature EZEMCONS and extend
the GPP literature. While it was observed that each city
encountered challenges regarding EZEMCONS, there were
also some common denominators. The findings suggest that
cities can improve their low-emission machinery infrastruc-
ture, connectivity between builders, and cooperation through
early market dialogues.
Our findings illustrate that Shin etal.’s (2020) model
is highly relevant for an EZEMCONS analysis as it builds
on PP as mission-oriented innovation systems policy
(Edquist and Zabala-Iturriagagoitia 2012; Edquist etal.
2015). Adopting this systemic model, we were able to bet-
ter generalize the system-wide impacts of EZEMCONS,
and undertake a systematic assessment of the relevant
methods and procedures. Furthermore, it informed our
own model, and as a result, the IE orchestration of future
EZEMCONS projects with explanations of both barriers
and opportunities. With this conceptual framework, our
contribution aids policymakers and researchers to iden-
tify barriers and opportunities for both socio-technical and
system transitions pertaining to EZEMCONS (Lingegård
etal. 2021; Sourani and Sohail 2011; Trindade etal. 2017;
Vejaratnam etal. 2020), and, as such, help tailor policy
interventions to overcome system failures when design-
ing and implementing EZEMCONS policies in the future
(Shin etal. 2020).
The study examined both the direct and indirect effects
of GPPs in the innovation ecosystem. A city’s supply chain
can be used to directly influence a public client’s contract
choices. GPP can be an effective tool for creating direct mar-
ket demands to encourage potential suppliers to invest in
research and development and production innovation (Shin
etal. 2020). Cities with purchasing powers can apply PPI
schemes to reduce the market uncertainty of future demands
on ZEMCONS to encourage strong commitments from
builders to invest in electric NRMM and other machinery.
Further, by establishing pilot testing of ZEMCONS, cities
can raise awareness and receive feedback from builders and
contractors, which can also encourage suppliers.
The study showed that early market dialogues with build-
ers and contractors are the most used tool for direct effects.
In this context, a green-focused contractor should have
almost as much influence as a public developer. If a builder
cannot directly influence a contract in an early market dia-
logue, the dialogue with EZEMCONS actors can still be
considered for discussing the advantages and disadvantages
of different implementation models. If there are no possi-
bilities via traditional supply chain actors, an alternative is
Table 6 Barriers and critical success factors
CSF critical success factors, NRMM non-road mobile machinery, GHG greenhouse gas
Cities Barriers and CSF
Budapest Barriers Limited market, technology, lack of knowledge, and anticompetitive environments (few companies have
non-emission NRMMs in Hungary)
CSF: raising awareness (for the market and decision-makers)
Copenhagen Barriers High costs, political cooperation, and limited suppliers of electrical machinery
CSF: economic gains, reducing GHG emissions and construction site noise, and considering local contractors
Helsinki Barriers High biofuel costs, possible biofuel delivery problems (especially when demands increase), lack of elec-
trical machinery, sourcing electrical machinery, charging infrastructure, and related expenses
CSF Using market dialogues to determine possibilities for the market and testing different procurement methods
Trondheim Barriers Lack of infrastructure, costs of NRMM, political cooperation, new procurement routines, and technology
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84 Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
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establishing relationships with green contractors using inno-
vation intermediaries.
Regarding indirect effects, the study found that supply
chain actors can collaborate with other green-focused actors
to influence supply chain actors (or third parties) with over-
lapping interests and, thus, public actors. This is because
existing relationships have been identified within EZEM-
CONS. However, an even more frequent theme for indirect
influence was various innovation intermediary engagements.
This was observed mainly in Trondheim and Copenhagen,
where the former acted as an intermediary by engaging large
numbers of key infrastructure actors and the latter engaged
in ongoing interactions with key actors within the innova-
tion ecosystem. Both successfully included imperative actors
from academia, public institutions, builders, governments,
small businesses, and independent contractors. However, the
effects and factors involved in these engagements need to be
studied further.
Regarding which method was most effective, it can be
argued that the cities with direct influence had better con-
trol over the message expressed than those with indirect
influence. This requires that cities have direct relationships
with the relevant green actors, which can be challenging to
achieve, as the case studies have illustrated. Conversely, it
can be argued that indirect influence can be more effective
than direct influence. The case studies show that this applies,
for example, when a city has been involved in influencing a
public client’s environmental ambitions through interactions
arranged by an intermediary. Given that the city has either a
weak or non-existent relationship with the green actor, this
example illustrates how indirect influence can be more effec-
tive than direct influence. The observations regarding the
effectiveness of indirect relationships strengthen this case
for applying an innovation ecosystem framework because it
enables the actors to capture such links.
Another aspect of the various methods of influence that
does not emerge from the framework is that the methods
will, to varying degrees, be resource-intensive for the cit-
ies. This applies to both direct and indirect methods. For
example, the data showed that early market dialogues with
a broad number of actors in the ecosystem are time-consum-
ing because of planning, execution, and follow-ups. How
resource-intensive the work is for the city may be related to
how resource-intensive the use of GPP is for public actors
and vice versa.
The findings also showed that construction project pro-
curements might involve many departments, functional
areas, management, and political levels in the city, increas-
ing the complexity of the innovation ecosystem. First, cities
should map the ecosystem locally and devise a dependable
roadmap for achieving mature EZEMCONS. Second, cities
must be eager to learn from each other and share experi-
ences (peer-to-peer learning) at the technical/environmental
adviser and political leadership levels, constituting a higher-
level national or international ecosystem.
8 Conclusions, limitations andfurther
Despite clear progress in reducing emissions related to con-
struction sites and using NRMMs in the EU, there has been
no trend toward lower GHG emissions in the EU for the
past 10years. Therefore, there is a clear need to address this
emission category, which requires a shift from fossil-fuel-
driven propulsion technology to technology using renewa-
bles, such as electricity, biogas, or hydrogen. This study
revealed that accurate emissions measures from construction
projects are lacking. Although the NRMM emissions cat-
egory is a reasonable indicator, it does not necessarily only
measure emissions from construction sites but also includes
the use of NRMM in other areas. Further, the measures are
typically available nationally and not immediately available
for individual cities. There is also a need to develop more
precise and local measurement systems, as expressed by the
representatives from Trondheim; thus, aiding the process
of developing key information flow and knowledge sharing
between entities within cities and externally.
The four cities in the project had sustainability strategies
and, as part of those strategies, a focus on reducing GHG
emissions but not necessarily on using NRMM on a large
scale. The cities had also started including environmental
criteria in their PP practices for construction projects, and
several cities had begun using different forms of dialogue
with the ecosystem actors, albeit to a varying extent. Regard-
ing the realization of ZEMCONS, the experience is limited
to Trondheim and Copenhagen; however, Helsinki has pro-
jects planned in the coming years, and Budapest expressed a
clear intention to develop its capabilities. The findings sug-
gested that dialogues with the wider innovation ecosystem
are essential for successful procurement processes aimed at
achieving ZEMCONS.
The innovation ecosystem perspective for ZEMCONS
proposed by this article provides the cities a method to
unfold not only the supply chain, but also strategic informa-
tion, potential opportunities, barriers, and risk. By taking
a holistic and dynamic view of the whole ecosystem, the
cities can identify actors that influence the EZEMCONS
both directly and indirectly, and the relational paths among
them (Stokke etal. 2022). The EZEMCONS perspective
also introduces the “loose” ecosystem relationships, which
offers an experimental arena where innovations are devel-
oped in response to project requirements. Comparing to tra-
ditional supply chain management strategies, the innovation
ecosystem perspective emphasize the loose and temporary
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85Environment Systems and Decisions (2023) 43:72–86
1 3
coalitions, which can lower the threshold for initiating ZEM-
CONS projects.
The findings, combined with cities’ views on the per-
ceived barriers and drivers of achieving ZEMCONS,
underline the importance of a larger ecosystem perspective,
connecting internal and external stakeholders. This study
has demonstrated that cities’ most important measures are
improving low-emission machinery infrastructures, net-
working for builders, and cooperation through early market
dialogues. While this study contributes to PP research and
EZEMCONS policy implementations, we also recognize
certain limitations of the work and some areas that require
further research. This study selected four European cities;
however, it was challenging to generalize policies and man-
agerial implications to larger regional and national areas,
partly because EZEMCONS is a nascent field with varying
degrees of equipment availabilities and best-practice guide-
lines. We believe, however, that our methodology may pro-
vide a good basis for further replication and validation by
other researchers focusing on similar, but other cities. Also,
due to limited resources, we interviewed some of the key
actors involved in the EZEMCONS work in the cities, and
overall, we captured a variety of functions and departments,
but surely other interviewees from other departments could
have shed more light on the matters discussed. More clear
and direct pathways to orchestrating EZEMCONS can be
drawn from future research as it becomes more mature and
prevalent in cities throughout Europe and the world. It may
also be useful to examine the relationships between ecosys-
tem actors and procurement practices to help policymakers
estimate the effects on green construction practices more
Acknowledgements This research paper has been funded by the Cli-
mate Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) project “EZEM-
CONS – Ecosystem for Zero-Emission Construction Sites” (ID No.
190863) of the European Union (EU). We express our thankfulness to
all the project contributors and their support for the data for the paper.
We are also appreciative for the collaboration with the Big Buyers for
Climate and Environment in both exchanging information and organ-
izing joint events for the advantage of both projects. We would also like
to thank Amia Enam for transcribing the interviews.
Funding Open access funding provided by NTNU Norwegian Univer-
sity of Science and Technology (incl St. Olavs Hospital - Trondheim
University Hospital).
Conflict of interest The authors declared that they have no conflict of
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... With today's best available technologies and practices, it is possible to abate more than threequarters of the emissions by 2030 and achieve close to net zero emissions by 2045 Stokke proposed a construction site ecosystem for zero-emission construction sites in the green public procurement scope, highlighting the importance of a collaborative framework that includes municipalities, contractors and energy providers [13]. Some research in the Nordic countries [14] assessed that the major impact on the emissions of construction sites is linked to the use of fossil fuels for vehicles and machinery. ...
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In historic centers, construction works consist of complex activities that must balance the operative requirements and lower the impacts on a delicate and sensible environment. In this urban system, especially regarding relevant reconstruction processes such as post-natural disaster scenarios, construction operations are performed through the traditional construction processes, using fuel-based generators and vehicles with limited efficiency and with relevant impacts in terms of the consumed energy, noise and vibrations. In the global transition of the construction sectors towards a zero-emission and fuel-free future, construction sites in historic centers represent a particular opportunity where the application of fuel-free strategies is particularly feasible and can provide additional value in terms of the environmental impact, productivity and health and safety. This work addresses the need for a framework to provide the basis for the application of fuel-free principles in construction within historic city centers dealing with two major concepts: the adaptive construction site as a way to reduce the energy demand and the potential adoption of fuel-free machines. The former is derived from the analysis of a real project in the historic city of L’Aquila, while the latter is defined through the identification and categorization of the applicable electric machines, equipment and vehicles and the discussion of the limits, opportunities and added value of the fuel-free strategies.
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As a result of the increase in carbon emissions and climate change, it is imperative to innovate and implement new sustainable solutions across industries, including construction. The current study explores how an early upstream supplier (EUS) can influence actors in its innovation ecosystem and the degree to which the effect of green public procurement (GPP) can be increased. An increased degree of GPP is sought as an enabler for the EUS to succeed with its green business process innovation. Using a holistic case study methodology, comprising literature review, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis, we examined the direct and indirect paths the EUS could utilize to influence public actors' degree of GPP. The case study is based on a Norwegian cement producer currently developing low-carbon cement with carbon capture and storage technology. Our findings show that public buyers actively influence GPP and that it is possible to effect change in the ecosystem from the supplier side. There is a high potential for an EUS in the construction industry to influence (downstream) public purchasers’ current practice. The study demonstrates the opportunities for an EUS to directly and indirectly influence the degree of GPP. It also highlights the challenges related to GPP and innovation in the construction industry.
Full-text available
The infrastructure construction sector is a significant source of carbon emissions, and more stringent procurement requirements are central to meeting reduction targets in this demand-led and project-based industry. This paper aims to analyze the implementation of international policies for reducing carbon emissions in infrastructure construction, focusing on the interaction between policy ambitions and procurement practices. Based on case studies of large projects and their contexts in five countries worldwide: Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK, and the US, a cross-country comparison is performed of how policies and practices for carbon reduction develop across multiple implementation levels. Three levels are included in the analysis: policy, industry, and project level. We identify the projects as either drivers of policy goals, frontrunners in industry-level development processes, or translators of national policy. These roles, and the associated pathways for carbon emission reduction, are context-specific and depend on the policy ambitions at the national or regional level, the maturity of the supplier market, and, often, on the strategies of individual champions at the project level. Long-term learning processes, both within and between the various levels, are essential for advancing carbon reduction.
Full-text available
Firms are faced with increased dynamism due to rapid technological development, digitalization, and sustainability requirements, creating novel opportunities for ecosystem innovation. This is particularly prevalent in smart city contexts where initiatives concerning, for example, energy efficient buildings and smart energy grids drive new kinds of ecosystem formation. Orchestrating emerging innovation ecosystems can offer a path to sustained competitive advantage for ecosystem leaders. Yet, it calls for the development of new capabilities to sense, seize, and reconfigure digitalization opportunities in a highly dynamic ecosystem environment. Yet, prior research lacks insights into the dynamic capabilities and routines required for ecosystem innovation. Therefore, this study investigates how firms can develop dynamic capabilities to orchestrate ecosystem innovation and, thus, gain from it. Through a multiple case study of smart city initiatives, we offer insights into the specific micro-foundations or sub-routines underlying the ecosystem leader's sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring capabilities, which are necessary to orchestrate ecosystem innovation. We develop a capability-based framework demonstrating three orchestration mechanisms – namely, configuring ecosystem partnerships, value proposition deployment, and governing ecosystem alignment. Our findings carry implications for the literature on innovation ecosystems and dynamic capabilities, as well as for managers.
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Carbon emissions emanating from infrastructure construction are substantial, and public infrastructure clients have begun to include carbon reduction goals in their procurement requirements. This is a new and complex field where practices vary and are still developing. Based on project documentation and interviews we map and analyze the design and implementation of carbon reduction requirements in projects by leading infrastructure clients in Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, the US and the UK. Procurement requirements were influenced by concerns for tender competition, transaction costs and innovation, and further adapted to project delivery models, market maturity and client capabilities. Increasing awareness of practical and contextual constraints often led to modified strategies. This paper identifies factors that should be considered when designing carbon policies and requirements. This knowledge is important for clients and governments in order to develop more effective strategies for learning between contexts. Policies and future research should address client capabilities to drive long-term innovation.
Purpose Government green procurement (GGP) is becoming a popular environmental policy instrument to spur the economy whilst protecting the environment. However, the implementation of GGP is impeded by various barriers. This paper aims to analyse the existing literature on barriers impeding GGP. Design/methodology/approach This systematic literature review was guided by the PRISMA Statement (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) review method. A total of 29 articles from the Scopus and Web of Science databases were selected for the review. Findings Five themes, i.e. finance, legal, people, knowledge and organisation, emerged from this review, which further produced 16 sub-themes. Lack of knowledge and awareness were the major barriers for GGP, while financial constraint was not the major barrier for GGP, as previously perceived. Barriers related to organisation were the most complex. Certain barriers were found more in developed or developing countries. Research limitations/implications Only article journals with empirical data were selected. Review articles, book series, books, chapters in books and conference proceedings were excluded. Practical implications Public managers should place highest priority to enhance knowledge and awareness of procurers on GGP. Other important initiatives to be undertaken include emulating best practices, implementing change management and incentivising suppliers to tackle the prevalent barriers of GGP. Finally, with increasing evidences on barriers related to GGP, public managers should consider mapping and analysing specific barriers hindering GGP in their organisation/country. Social implications A less challenging and efficient implementation of GGP contributes to a cleaner environment. Originality/value This article will be the first to systematically review the barriers of GGP.
The circular economy (CE) concept has received increasing attention among different parties on various levels recently. Due to the concern on significant resources consumption in the construction industry without concerning the physical limit resources, a paradigm shift of linear economy to CE model is inevitable for conserving the resources and promoting the efficient use of resources. Adopting CE into the construction industry can promote the successful transition to sustainable construction. Although early stage of development in the construction industry, the scientific contribution of CE agenda in the construction industry is significantly increasing. Therefore, this review aimed to identity the implications, considerations, contributions and challenges of CE in the construction industry by systematically analyzing the recent literature. In addition to existing trends and considerations, this study highlighted the numerous challenges under design, materials selection, supply chain, business model, uncertainty and risk, collaborations among actions, knowledge of understanding, relevant policy, integration of urban metabolism, and methodology for CE evaluation. The study found that CE implementation into the case-specific building with full scale evaluation is yet to be conducted, and a comprehensive CE integration and methodology framework is yet to be developed. A prospective integrated framework for CE adoption and evaluation method is proposed by analyzing the contemporary issues. It is believed that the analyzed critical issues for CE adoption, identified future research direction, and proposed frameworks and methodology should help further development of CE research and contribution to effective implementation of CE into the industry for promoting sustainable construction.
The 2016 London atmospheric emissions inventory estimates that, the construction sector contributes 34% of the total PM10 and 7% of the total NOX – the largest and 5th largest sources, respectively. Recent on-road light duty diesel vehicle emission tests have shown significant differences between real-world NOX emissions compared with results from laboratory based regulatory tests. The aim of this study was therefore to quantify the ‘real-world’ tail-pipe NOX, CO2, and particle emissions, for 30 of the most commonly used construction machines in London under normal working conditions. The highest NOX emissions (g/kWh) were from the older engines (Stage III-A ~4.88 g/kWh and III-B ~4.61 g/kWh), these were reduced significantly (~78%) in the newer (Stage IV ~1.05 g/kWh) engines due to more advanced engine management systems and exhaust after treatment. One Stage IV machine emitted NOX similar to a Stage III-B machine, the failure of this SCR was only detectable using PEMS as no warning was given by the machine. Higher NOX conformity factors were observed for Stage IV machines, due to the lower NOX emission standards, which these machines must adhere to. On average, Stage III-B machines (~525 g/kWh) emitted the lowest levels of CO2 emissions, compared to Stage III-A (~875 g/kWh) and Stage IV (~575 g/kWh) machines. Overall, a statistically significant (~41%) decrease was observed in the CO2 emissions (g/kWh) between Stage III-A and III-B machines, while no statistically significant difference was found between Stage III-B and IV machines. Particle mass measurements, which were only measured from generators, showed that generators of all engine sizes were within their respective Stage III-A emission standards. A 95% reduction in NOX and 2 orders of magnitude reduction in particle number was observed for a SCR-DPF retrofitted generator, compared to the same generator prior to exhaust gas after-treatment strategy.
Green Public Procurement (GPP) plays an important role in facing the challenge of reducing the environmental impacts from construction sector-related products, services and works, and creating environmental and innovative value for society in favour of a greener and more sustainable economy. The European Commission recently developed GPP criteria for the “office buildings” category. In parallel, Building Sustainability Assessment (BSA) tools help estimate a building's impact on the environment based on a life cycle approach. Many of the aspects and measurable indicators included in BSA tools are clearly related to the criteria covered by GPP. However, other important ones are missing and should be integrated to ensure green procurement initiatives. This study critically reviews the GPP criteria proposed for office buildings and crosschecks them with the sustainability indicators included in three BSA tools to reinforce the GPP framework for the office buildings sector. It provides, on the one hand, an evaluation of the rate of improvement achieved in the tools when applying GPP criteria and, on the other, a proposal for a weighting system for awarding points to the offers in tenders. The results will help contracting authorities to introduce more objectivity into the tendering process and to make informed decisions while evaluating bidders' proposals.
Energy-saving technologies in buildings have received great attention from energy efficiency researchers in the construction sector. Traditional research tends to focus on the energy used during building operation and in construction materials production, but it usually neglects the energy consumed in the building construction process. Very few studies have explored the impacts of technological progress on energy efficiency in the construction industry. This paper presents a model of the building construction process based on Cobb-Douglas production function. The model estimates the effects of technological progress on energy efficiency with the objective to examine the role that technological progress plays in energy savings in China's construction industry. The modeling results indicated that technological progress improved energy efficiency by an average of 7.1% per year from 1997 to 2014. Furthermore, three main technological progress factors (the efficiency of machinery and equipment, the proportion change of the energy structure, and research and development investment) were selected to analyze their effects on energy efficiency improvement. These positive effects were verified, and results show the effects of first two factors are significant. Finally, recommendations for promoting energy efficiency in the construction industry are proposed.