Zeeland Regional Energy Strategy uses CO2 Performance Ladder for sustainable tendering in the region

The starting point of the Climate Agreement is that CO2 emissions must be reduced by 49% by 2030 compared to 1990, and by 95% by 2050. Many of the agreements must be fulfilled in the region. In 30 regions spread across the Netherlands, provinces, municipalities, water boards, companies, network operators, social organizations and citizens are therefore working together on a Regional Energy Strategy (RES). In the Zeeland region, the CO2 Performance Ladder is part of the RES. SKAO speaks with Evert Swart, policy advisor for the Scheldestromen Water Board and associated with the Zeeland RES.

How did the RES in Zeeland come about and what was your role in it?

Evert: "The Regional Energy Strategy (RES) was created from the global and national Climate Agreement. Of this is also a Zeeland (province in Holland) version: Paris in Zeeland. In our energy strategy, we indicate how we will implement and achieve the climate and energy goals in Zeeland. Until recently I was a member of the official core team of the RES in Zeeland. The core team is supported by five parties: the province, the association of Zeeland municipality, Scheldestromen water authority, Impuls Zeeland and Enduris. These parties have facilitated the process and have set up three discussion tables. One table focused on the electricity issue, the second table focused on the built environment and the third table focused on mobility. For the core team I had the role of secretary. I contributed to the RES memorandum and the final report. Now I have taken a step back and I am working for my own organization (the Scheldestromen water authority, ed.) on the new Water Board Management Program for the next six years. For the RES I am still working on setting up a monitoring program and the mobility table. At this table, 14 action lines are discussed and one of these action lines is the approach to sustainable civil engineering, in which the CO2 Performance Ladder is an important part. All authorities in the Zeeland region have agreed to implement this approach. It is therefore also laid down in the RES. For the mobility table I started working as project leader "sustainable civil engineering". Together with SKAO, among others, we have considered how the CO2 Performance Ladder can contribute to the RES in Zeeland. Sharing practical stories has become an important part of the action plan. The Scheldestromen water authority, just like the province, already uses "the Ladder" in tenders to encourage companies to get started with the CO2 Performance Ladder."

How did you become familiar with the CO2 Performance Ladder?

Evert: "From my own position, I am very busy with the subject of sustainability for our business operations. That is also how I came into contact with the Sustainable Civil Engineering Approach. This method makes sustainability concrete in civil engineering projects without prescribing in advance how the sustainability gains will be achieved. That can differ per project. The approach has several instruments, including the CO2 Performance Ladder. It was important to me not to start thinking of things that others had already thought of. Because the Ladder has proven itself in the market, we started working with this instrument."

How did you ensure that the Ladder ended up in the RES?

Evert: "Because I am closely involved, it was not difficult to put the Ladder on the agenda. The Ladder works well at the water authority where I work and the province of Zeeland is also positive about the use of the Ladder. I didn't really need to convince members of the working group. In fact, we have all concluded that the CO2 Performance Ladder should be part of the RES. So it was not difficult to get the Ladder into the RES. As a water authority, we are a kind of ambassador for the CO2 Performance Ladder in Zeeland and we initiate actions on behalf of the RES."

How did you inform market parties about the CO2 Performance Ladder?

Evert: "We have organized meetings for local contractors, among other things. We thought it was important to inform them about the Ladder and to determine whether there was support for the use of the instrument. The discussions showed that we could not overcharge the smaller contractors. For this group it is difficult to obtain a certificate directly at level 5. That is why we have decided to reward companies up to level 3 with a fictitious discount on the registration price. In the future we will also give a discount on the higher levels. After sharing experiences with the province, they also used the Ladder in tenders."

Which parties will work with the CO2 Performance Ladder?

Evert: "The RES states that regional governments must develop an unambiguous procurement section for sustainable tendering, in which the CO2 Performance Ladder is an integral part. In addition to the 13 municipalities, we will also encourage the drinking water company, the network manager and, among others, the Forestry Commission and the Port Authority to use the Ladder in tenders for land, road and hydraulic engineering works. This also meets the wishes of the entrepreneurs with whom to act unambiguously as major clients in the Zeeland infrastructure."

Do you have any tips for other regions that want to implement the CO2 Performance Ladder in the RES?

Evert: "Enter into a conversation with your contractors. Show what you are already doing and which direction you want to take with your sustainability ambitions. It is also important to gain support at the administrative and management level for policy in which the CO2 Performance Ladder is anchored."