Collecting Data For Sustainable Procurement In Construction

Collecting Data For Sustainable Procurement In Construction

September 1, 2022
Data, Frameworks, Procurement, Sustainable Procurement

Over the last few weeks we have been looking at setting a sustainable procurement framework in the construction industry, and what kind of  data is needed to assist with this process. In this article we will look at how to best collect data. Specifically, we introduce some of the methods that can be used to collect relevant sustainability data during the procurement process.

Request relevant documentation

The first source of data in a procurement process will be the documents which include project specifications regarding resource use. These can normally include detailed information on material use, vehicle and machinery use, and itemised labour units. They are normally used as the basis to determine the cost of the project, and contain most of the project’s relevant data. These documents can be sometimes referred to as Cost Reports, Bills of Quantities (BOQ), or Schedule of Works.

How the data is collected will be determined by whether, before the start of the project, the procurement authority establishes a detailed plan of all the resources that should be used during the project (including quantities, and qualities), or it specifies what targets the project should meet, and requires the bidder to provide specific data on all the resources they will use in order to meet the targets. For example, we know that steel, glass and concrete are the most carbon intensive materiel, so specifications to use lower carbon materials could be considered here, alternatively, specifications on working with architects to remove unnecessary materials.

Gather evidence during implementation

Once the project specifications are set, there are different ways to collect relevant data in order to monitor implementation. Below are some examples of ways this can be done.


Questionnaires can be designed to capture the desired data variables during the project. To ensure that all relevant data is collected, these questionnaires should be designed both for the main contractor in the project, and all the subcontractors and suppliers in the supply chain.

Quality control reports.

Construction projects are usually divided into certain milestones. These milestones are usually designed to monitor progression, and establish when payments from the contracting authority to the supplier are going to be made.

Sometimes, whether a milestone is met also depends on the quality control reports that are submitted by the supplier. These reports include all the relevant information regarding quality standards, and relevant tests, that have been carried out according to the agreed terms.

It can be established that these reports also include relevant data on sustainability variables (i.e. data regarding the use of sustainable, recycled, or reused materials).

Material and waste registries.

  • The supplier can set up a “Materials Register”, indicating provenance, quantity and destination of all materials used during the project, this list should be available to the procuring agency for evaluation. To monitor the use of sustainable materials, the procuring agency can also require the supplier to submit proof of purchase of these materials, together with any document that guarantees compliance with agreed characteristics.
  • To monitor compliance with Site Waste Management Plans (SWMP), a registry can be used to record each time a waste container leaves the site. To facilitate this process, there should be someone in charge of monitoring waste management, and training relevant stakeholders.

Third-party audits.

Involving third-parties to audit the project is one way to collect relevant data. Sometimes procurement authorities hire a specialist consultancy to monitor the sustainability of a specific construction project.

This company will collect the relevant sustainability data set on the tender documents. This is common in projects funded by development banks. The supplier can also include hiring a third-party to monitor the sustainability of the project as part of their proposal to meet the targets set in the tendering documents.

Task forces.

One of the ways to monitor construction projects is to designate a dedicated government Task Force to visit construction sites intermittently and without previous notice. This can be especially useful to collect any relevant data on labor conditions.

Civil society engagement.

Monitoring construction projects can require a lot of workforce and, often, public agencies do not have the resources to monitor and collect data from all ongoing and past construction projects. For this reason, engaging civil society in monitoring activities can be particularly useful in the construction sector. Citizen collaboration can be required to collect data on health and safety measures, labor rights, and corruption (i.e. abandoned projects).

The methods that will be used during the project to collect the data should not only be contractually agreed between the main contractor and the procuring authority, but also between the contractor and its subcontractors and suppliers.

All contracts should include a clear description of the data that will be collected, when it will be collected and the methods that will be used. Consequences and responsibilities in case of non-compliance should also be included.


Templates for BOQs and SWMPs:

The EBRD has developed a BOQ template for “fit-out” project, which is a construction stage where a built space is prepared for occupation. This template can help as guidance to understand what type of data is gathered in BOQs in construction projects.

Case study

Copenhagen has established a task force for monitoring compliance with labor clauses of all suppliers in construction projects, and obtaining relevant data.

The task force consists of nine people, and is entitled to visit all types of workplaces in Denmark at all times, monitoring pay and working conditions. They combine on-the-spot inspection with investigations into the conditions of specific employees based on documentation of pay, working hours, tax, etc.

Case study

Engaging civil society in monitoring activities:

Peru has established a system that allows citizens to visit construction sites at the beginning, during, and/or completion of public works in order to monitor the construction progress.

Colombia has developed an app in order to promote the citizen control of white elephant projects (neglected, abandoned or over-billed public works projects).

Finally, there is an opportunity here to implement life cycle costing analysis, a valuable tool in assessing and managing the long-term cost of maintaining an asset. You can find more information here in our article Measuring Life Cycle Costing.

If you’d like to talk to us in more detail about our government procurement data, our international export agency tools and services or our data API, get in touch.

Image courtesy of Mark Potterton


September 29, 2022

£900k Government Fund To Help Charities Win Public Contracts.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is running a Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Contract Readiness Fund grant...
September 27, 2022

New EU Procurement Instrument Now Law.

About a year ago, we wrote an article on the new procurement instrument approved by the European Union. In recent weeks this...
September 20, 2022

Blacklisting Gets Tested.

Back in June we wrote about blacklisting of suppliers and the Government’s intention to prevent poorly performing suppliers from bidding for government...
September 8, 2022

UK Risks Its Place On Anti-Corruption Body

The UK has been placed ‘under review’ by the 77-country-strong Open Government Partnership (OGP) due to its failure to meet mandatory criteria...
September 8, 2022

Thurrock Exposes Transparency Blind Spot

An investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) into investments by Thurrock Borough Council has led to the resignation of the...
September 6, 2022

New Zealand Government Reviewing Procurement System.

It’s always encouraging when we see governments around the world looking to improve their procurement transparency and efficiency. The New Zealand Government...
August 30, 2022

Selecting Data For Sustainable Procurement In Construction

It is estimated that around 40-50% of natural resources are transformed into construction material, and that as much as 30% of all...
August 25, 2022

Setting A Sustainable Procurement Framework For Construction

When procuring construction projects, it can be useful to underpin sustainability criteria on existing policy and regulation. When assessing the enabling framework,...
August 18, 2022

Big Net Zero Contract Win For Small Cornish Business

A small Cornish company has purportedly won a £70bn contract to help deliver the country's transition to Net Zero. The Penzance based...
August 16, 2022

Supporting Sustainable Procurement In ICT

One of the key challenges of sustainably procuring ICT lies in the lack of transparency in supply chains. To overcome this challenge,...
August 11, 2022

Why Is Sustainable Procurement Important For The ICT Sector?

The extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, use, and disposal of ICT products is associated with a number of environmental, social, and...
August 10, 2022

Shifts Towards Sustainable Sourcing

A while ago,  we shared an article on findings by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Economic Forum that showed procurement is responsible...
August 9, 2022

Supporting Sustainable Procurement In The Construction Industry

Construction projects are usually long and complex, involving the participation of different stakeholders throughout the different project stages. There are certain factors...
August 4, 2022

Why Is Open SPP Important In The Construction Sector?

The construction industry is estimated to account for 6% of global GDP, with Africa's construction market valued at around USD 5.4 billion...
August 2, 2022

US Advances Equity And Economic Opportunity Through Procurement.

With the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris Administration set an objective to ensure federal investments built wealth and opportunity...


Compelling research, insights and data directly into your inbox.

Recent media stories

The Times
May 30, 2022
August 3, 2021


Scroll to Top