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Guidance sets out procurement measures for Whitehall to cut technology carbon emissions

Hand holding net zero icon
Image source: Sukkasemsakorn

The Cabinet Office has published guidance for central government bodies to integrate sustainability goals, including those for digital technology, into their procurement contracts.

The new Carbon Reduction Contract Schedule is aimed at helping departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in pursuit of the Government’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2050.

It has been accompanied by the publication of a procurement policy note, and has prompted IT industry association techUK to advise its members selling to the public sector to familiarise themselves with its details.

The schedule includes specific guidance on technology, IT hardware asset management and cloud services.

For the first it says suppliers should comply with the EU Data Centres Code of Conduct and the Government’s Technology Code of Practice, along with adopting appropriate measures from the ISO 50001 standard for energy management and obtaining Energy Star certified products.

Certification for hardware

For hardware management it points to compliance with the Government Buying Standards where they apply, and if they are not covered to use similar criteria, seek Energy Star certification and comply with the EPEAT scheme for sustainable management of resources and energy over the asset lifecycle.

In regard to cloud services, the document says all data centres should be run in accordance with the EU code, all available power management facilities should be utilised and the supplier should provide the public authority with a copy of the annual energy return.

It also provides a number of questions that could be useful in decision making, including on whether the hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions are sufficiently understood, and is the supply chain likely to provide a barrier to decarbonisation.

“As environmental factors and greenhouse gas emissions feature in the delivery of most public contracts, there is an opportunity for authorities to take steps to support the Government net zero target and reduce emissions through public procurement,” the document says. “This Carbon Reduction Schedule should be considered alongside broader sustainability obligations.”

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