The Department of the Environment has told local authorities that they can take environmental considerations into account when assessing tenders for procurement projects.
In a circular issued last week, the department urged local authorities to consider how they could contribute to the protection of the environment and promote sustainable development while obtaining best value for money when awarding contracts.
It said that there were opportunities for local authorities, for example, to promote sustainability and energy efficiency when procuring social housing.
"Requests for tenders may encourage prospective tenderers to address environmental considerations when deciding on the particular materials they propose to utilise. It is worth noting that a range of environmentally sustainable systems and materials are increasingly being incorporated into public capital projects including: heating systems using solar panels, passive solar gain through appropriate orientation, geo-thermal heat sources, heat recovery systems, wood pellet boilers and materials such as timber framed windows certified from managed forest sources and modified cement products," the department circular stated.
Details of the circular were released by the department yesterday at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment and Local Government.
The Department of the Environment said that it had started work on a new action plan for green procurement. This will look at issues such as targets.It also rejected a contention made by Green Party deputy CiarÃ¡n Cuffe that the Department of the Environment did not have a green procurement policy.