Italy has been the first and only Country in the EU to have made Green Public Procurement Minimum Environmental Criteria for all kinds of building interventions
The most significant measure taken in Italy relating to resource efficiency in the building sector is the mandatory introduction of Green Public Procurement Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC) for public buildings (D.M. 24/12/2015 and update with D.M. 11/10/2017) for all public construction contracts, both in new construction and renovation of existing buildings, pursuant to the new Procurement Code (D.lgs. 50/2016). These GPP Criteria include several important measures in a circular economy perspective: minimum and certified recycled content in all major construction materials and products; mandatory implementation of pre-demolition audits; mandatory compliance with the 70% recovery threshold for construction and demolition waste as required by the European Waste Directive; obligation to implement selective demolition processes as well as design for disassembly/deconstruction for 50% of all materials used. Though the implementation rate of GPP Minimum Environmental Criteria for public buildings is still quite low (around 18% in average of chief towns in 2020), this lever is extremely important for raising awareness among the producers and users of recycled materials in the building sector. In fact, the market is quickly increasing its offer of GPP compliant construction products.
At present, Italy is also developing GPP Minimum Environmental Criteria for roads construction and maintenance works, with the aim of expanding the market and fields of use for recycled aggregates
The resources used to define the GPP Minimum Environmental Criteria for buildings were internal to the Ministry of Environment or stakeholders’ contributions. Therefore, there were no external costs. To get to the point of implementation, EU and national funds were used by means of various Projects.
Evidence of success
Although other Countries in the EU have developed GPP Criteria for the building and construction sector, Italy is the only Country to have made them mandatory, in a widespread and successful way, for all public administrations, for the entire amount based on the tender and regardless of whether it is public purchases above or below threshold. The level of implementation, since 2016, has been slowly rising and the market is quickly increasing its offer of GPP compliant construction products.
A major challenge of mandatory GPP for buildings is represented by the need for training of all actors: in particular, throughout Italy, contracting authorities request training on the design of buildings/construction works taking into account all environmental aspects, including recycled materials.
Potential for learning or transfer
Italy is the first Country in Europe to have made GPP Minimum Environmental Criteria for public buildings mandatory for 100% of public building contracts. This approach, which could be adopted in other European Countries, is significantly stimulating the market to improve the quality of products, increase the traceability of the recycled content, favour the diffusion of certifications and thus combat the distrust of recycled products. Italian GPP Minimum Environmental Criteria for buildings are challenging and not easy to be implemented, because they touch a wide range of performances of the building itself. This necessarily entails the increase of the costs of the interventions and requires specific skills in all involved stakeholders. In this sense, it is important to monitor and control the tenders and the process of carrying out the works, to ensure that the criteria are effectively implemented until the end of the works. Another major issue is represented by the need for training.
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