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Guide to sustainable procurement in construction

20 January 2021

This guide shows how procurement can make construction projects more sustainable.

Guide to sustainable procurement in construction
Sustainable procurement in construction

Who wrote this?

  • Cathy Berry, Action Sustainability and
  • Shaun McCarthy, Action Sustainability

Project steering group:

  • Neil Henderson (chair), Mott MacDonald
  • Kristina Bull, WRAP
  • Graham Edgell, Morgan Sindall
  • Alex Forrest, Envirolink Northwest
  • Eva Gkenakou, Brookfield
  • Derek Hughes, BRE
  • Will Martin, Environment Agency
  • David Moon, WRAP
  • Martin Paintin, BAM Nuttall
  • Gareth Rondel, Willmott Dixon
  • Suzanne Smith, Marks and Spencer
  • Paul Toyne, Bovis Lend Lease
  • Byron Vincent, Cyril Sweett

The project was funded by:

  • Mott MacDonald
  • Marks and Spencer
  • WRAP
  • Morgan Sindall
  • Wilmott Dixon
  • Envirolink Northwest
  • Cyril Sweett

Other contributors:

  • Will McBain, Arup
  • Kristina Bull, WRAP
  • Derek Hughes, BRE
  • Will Martin, Environment Agency
  • Gareth Rondel, Willmott Dixon

CIRIA would also like to thank the following individuals for their contributions to the annexes:

  • Amanda Bailey, Arup
  • Philip Charles, CIRIA
  • Ray Dickinson, Defence Estates
  • Alisdair Forsythe, Remploy
  • Richard Gotheridge, Balfour Beatty Major Civil Engineering
  • Madeleine Gray, Centre for Accessible Environments
  • Julia Trew, WRc plc
  • Simon Helmer, The Carbon Trust
  • Philip Hirst, Upstream Sustainability Services
  • Anthony Iles, Atkins
  • Ben Kidd, CIRIA
  • John Newton, Ecology Consultancy
  • Nicci Russell, Waterwise


It was first published in March 2010.


To help improve the sustainability of construction by influencing procurement practices.

Who should read this?

Anyone who is in charge of procurement for a construction project and anyone interested in increasing a project's environmental sustainability.


This 150 page book, available to buy from CIRIA, explains how to procure sustainably by effectively management of the supply chain through application of best practice guidelines. It recognises some key principles and that the British Standard for sustainable procurement (BS 8903) can be used as a generic standard. Overall, the main aim of this guide is to illustrate the breadth of procurement requirements, and help industry professionals to make their contribution to the sustainability agenda and best practice standards.

This guide has 3 parts:

  • Part 1 (Chapters 2 to 4): provides some context and background to sustainable procurement in construction. This will be useful to buyers new to the subject who require some information on what sustainable procurement in construction is, why it is important and what the business drivers are.
  • Part 2 (Chapters 5 to 6): outlines the thinking behind BS 8903 and describes how this is relevant to construction procurement. Also, it identifies further construction related issues that need to be taken into account to achieve successful sustainable procurement in the construction industry.
  • Part 3 (Chapters 7 to 8): describes how to put sustainable procurement into practice. It outlines the main sustainability considerations and demonstrates how they can be embedded within the procurement process to ensure that sustainability is considered alongside or within the usual criteria of purchase price, quality and service. This section is about the practical application of sustainability within the process of procurement from initial identification of need through to contract management and then completion.

For more information and questions, please contact [email protected].

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  • Charles Jensen, knowledge content producer at ICE