Green Public Procurement in Canada: Buildings, Cement, Steel and Vehicles

Green public procurement (GPP) can have many short- and long-term economic, social and environmental benefits.

Sustainable technologies reduce energy and other resource use and lower pollution emissions. In some cases, this can have direct economic benefits, such as reduced spending on energy or water. There are a number of positive environmental and social outcomes associated with the use of sustainable technologies as well, including: reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, cleaner water and healthier watersheds, improved health, more vibrant and connected communities, and well-paying jobs.

These impacts also have economic costs. Acid rain caused by nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide emissions can injure plants, reducing agricultural yields. Smog causes a number of illnesses, including asthma and heart attacks, placing a burden on the healthcare system. Nutrient-rich runoff causes algal blooms in Canada’s lakes, hurting local industry and tourism.

These social and environmental impacts, and the resulting economic costs, are a large part of the motivation for GPP. However, it can be difficult to measure many of these impacts. As a result, procurement decisions are often made based on financial decisions alone. They do not factor in the longer-term economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits.

IISD created a model to make a quantitative assessment of the economic, social and environmental impacts associated with the procurement of infrastructure, buildings, including the use of cement and steel, and vehicles in Canada.

The model allows for the quantitative analysis of several impacts, which generally fall into the following categories:

Economic impacts include revenues, material and energy expenditure. Capital costs are included for vehicles and buildings.

Environmental impacts include GHG emissions, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Emissions are captured from both the manufacturing process and the use of energy during manufacture. For vehicles and buildings, emissions are captured during the operational stage as well. The buildings component also considers water and energy consumption, as well as emissions for heating.

Social impacts include employment, health impacts and impacts associated with climate change, as captured by the social cost of carbon, such as health impacts and increased flooding and droughts.

Learn more about the model and our findings in our report.