RAW framework agreement for extraordinary maintenance of polder and dyke embankments

What role does the CO2 Performance Ladder play in the tenders of the Delfland Water Board?

Chris: 'Within the Delfland Water Board we have a socially responsible procurement framework (MVI framework) in which we always look at a number of issues such as sustainability, circularity, social return and innovation. The sustainable infrastructure programme is part of this.’ Chris explains that since 2018 the CO2 Performance Ladder has been used as standard in the Water Board’s tenders (for larger works). The Ladder must be used as an award criterion when applicable and proportional. But that doesn't mean that all tenders are the same at the water board which received the thousandth CO2 Performance Ladder certificate: 'You can see that there is a difference in how it is applied by different colleagues,' says Chris. ‘The Ladder is usually used as part of the MEAT criteria, where the contractor can indicate a level of ambition on the Ladder. In consultation with the procurement department I have chosen another way.’

How was the Ladder used in this tender?

Chris: 'Of the fourteen candidates, seven contractors remained after applying the selection criteria based on core competences. In the award phase, 50% of the MEAT value was allocated to sustainability (of which 12.5% for the Ladder). The difference with a usual tender was that in this tender we only awarded the MEAT points for the CO2 Performance Ladder if the organisation already had the Ladder certificate, and not if the organisation promised to obtain it in a year's time. Also, only those organisations with level four or five on the Ladder received a fictitious award advantage on the tender price. This was the case for six of the seven tenderers. The Ladder was the decisive factor for the winners of the tender. The party with a level 3 certificate would have been among the winners if it had had a level 5 certificate. Moreover, the number 1 and 2 candidates scored best on the concrete implementation of sustainability.'


‘The Ladder [and therefore sustainability] was the decisive factor in this tender for the winners of this tender.’ - Chris Borst (Delfland Water Board)

Can you tell us something about the project?

Chris: ‘It is a framework agreement for four years with a maximum size of €24 million (excluding VAT). The project concerns the exceptional maintenance of polder and maintenance dikes dams and will be carried out by Berkhout, Ploegam and GKB, all certified at level 5 on the CO2 Performance Ladder under Handbook 3.0.’ Chris explains about the project: 'In the area of Hoogheemraadschap van Delfland there is a lot of peat soil, which is sinking fast. So every ten to fifteen years we come back to these places because maintenance has to be done again. This extraordinary maintenance (in addition to 'normal' daily maintenance, such as mowing, small-scale repairs and emergency repairs) involves raising the embankments by adding clay, sheet piling or shoring, for example. The challenge lies mainly in the environment where the maintenance takes place, because that may be on a farmer's land or in the backyard of a resident, who sometimes does not even know that they live on a small dyke and is therefore unaware of the maintenance that has to be carried out there. Sometimes the resident's garden shed, tree or landscaping has to be removed. That can be very major.’

What concrete sustainability measures are being taken in this project?

Chris explains that the tendering organisations were already asked which concrete CO2-reduction measures they would take on this project in the invitation to tender. He wanted not only to encourage tendering organisations to obtain a certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder, but also to challenge them to make sustainable choices on the project. Chris clarifies: 'The Ladder ensures that the organisation as a whole becomes more sustainable and emits less CO2. Of course, it's already an enormous gain to work with such a party, rather than one that isn’t committed in that way. But theoretically, an organisation that has made 80% of its fleet sustainable may still use the polluting 20% in your project.' Chris then smoothly mentions some of the measures that the winning organisations have said they will take on this project: 'The material by-products as a result of this project - mainly wood - is stored centrally so that it can be used again in the next project. They also aim to 'move less,' so less transport: employees who live close to the project are deployed for this project, and people share cars (not during the corona period, of course). Furthermore, Ploegam, the party that owns the first electric crane in the Netherlands, shares its knowledge about electric equipment with the other parties, so that the fossil equipment used on the project can also be electrified as much as possible. Small electric loaders are already being used. The non-electric equipment on this project mostly uses biodiesel. We also use a hybrid generator, for example.’ Chris also has an interesting ambition for the project: 'We want to see if we can raise part of the dykes with zero emissions, we have four years, so in principle there is enough time to prepare it. It is an ambition to look forward to, and one that we hope will be realised in this and subsequent projects.’

To what extent do client and contractor discuss these measures and CO2 reduction during the execution of the project?

Chris: 'The measures mentioned are part of the framework agreement and have therefore already been agreed in advance. We asked for a concrete plan and during the term of the agreement we will discuss it with all three parties together. We ask them how they are going to fulfil the promises made and how they can demonstrate that they are working on it. The beauty of such a joint discussion is that it creates win-win situations. For example, one party can use residual materials in another client's project, or use materials that have already been used in this project, or, based on logistics, determine which party will take up a particular process in the framework agreement. By tackling matters jointly in the project, more impact is really made in terms of CO2 reduction than if each party were to tackle this on an individual basis. I think cooperation is the ultimate form of sustainability.’ Chris explains that no concrete CO2 reduction targets have been set for this project. However, a materials passport will be filled in and the amount of wood, steel and fuels used will be monitored in order to at least have an insight into consumption. Chris says about CO2 reduction targets at project level: 'It is very difficult to estimate what realistic targets are, because in practice you don't know what you are going to encounter. But it would be nice to set up annual CO2 reduction targets: step by step lower emissions. We do want to work towards that, based on the insight into the emission flows.’

It is clear that sustainability, and CO2 reduction in particular, plays an important role in this project, and also that as far as contract manager Chris Borst is concerned, the contracting authority has an important role to play within the project. They can have a lot of influence by expressing their ambitions and wishes: in other words, by taking an active role. The information in the project dossier, introduced by Handbook 3.1, can help the client in this respect.