The needs for office space change regularly, which is why it is important to make circular choices during the procurement process. This can be done by thinking ahead and opting for modular, flexible and upgradeable solutions. Also when refurbishing or moving.
In addition, the operational costs for office furniture are low and the lifespan is often much longer than the standard contract terms. The Life Cycle Cost is mainly influenced by the useful life, so avoid early discarding of products.
Circular Strategies for Office Furnishings
- Internal sharing: Design workspaces efficiently and flexible. Take into account the actual needs of the users, the actual occupancy on the floor and the furniture already available. You can also outsource this process to a circular market player.
- Peer to peer sharing: Make a shared inventory of available furniture. And check if it is feasible to also share across different locations.
- Rental: There are as-a-service models for lighting (LAAS) and carpet tiles (FAAS), among other things. Check whether the TCO is economically more advantageous than purchase. Ask AAS services for guarantees for circularity.
- Reuse, refurbishing: Choose second-hand or refurbished products, or have your own pieces refurbish. For the latter, make an inventory of your furniture stock (or outsource this) to add to your tender. Ask for warranty periods that are commensurate with the value of the piece. Refurbished furniture is not necessarily cheaper than new, but of course the LCC is more advantagious.
- Insight into the proportion of recycled, biobased and virgin materials: For office furniture, the materials manly make up the environmental impact. Opting for recycled content, renewable raw materials and wear-resistant materials can reduce this impact.
- Increase the proportion of recycled content: A market dialogue or RFI will give you an idea of what percentage of recycled content is realistic to ask in your specifications.
- Stretch warranties: Determine the contract duration and warranties in proportion to the average lifespan of the product. Award points for each additional year of warranty on top of the stated minimum, or require a longer (degressive) warranty period.
- Contractual agreements for maintenance and repair: Include maintenance and repair in your contract or conclude a separate contract for this. Choose a fixed frequency or performance-oriented maintenance. For the latter, have a baseline measurement performed and set your expectations. For repairs, you agree on a realistic waiting period and you determine whether the repair must be done on site or not.
- Repairability and maintainability: Request a price list and the provision of spare parts for a period commensurate with the product lifetime. eg. 10 years for office chairs. If you have your own maintenance team, ask for instructions or training.
- Upgradable products: Where relevant, choose products that are adaptable to future innovations, especially if they have a long lifespan. Consider, for example, the evolution in lamp technology where it is best to opt for adaptable fixtures now that incandescent and halogen lamps are making way for LED.
- Designs for longevity: Choose robust materials and products. For furniture, for example, there are European quality standards for scratch resistance, tensile strength, lightfastness, rubbing resistance and compression deformation.
- Modular/change-oriented design: Consider meeting changing needs in the future. For example, by choosing fixtures and partitions that are easy to move if the office layout changes.
- Contractual incentives to extend the duration of use: Part of the contract can contain support from the supplier in case of change in lay out.
- Optimization of use by supplier: Training or instructions for the users ensures correct use and longer lifespan.
- Design for dissasembly: Choose products that are easy to disassemble, not glued or stapled. This makes it easier to repair or replace parts. Also ask for disassembly instructions.
- Modular design: Modular products are easier to adapt according to changing needs, which increases the chance of reuse.
- Standardized Design: Standard dimensions make it easier to reuse products internally or externally.
- Contractual take-back and reuse agreements: include agreements in your contract for take-back (or buy back) by the supplier with guarantees for reuse.
- Stimulate circular business models: As an alternative, you can conclude a contract with a recognized collector. They will remove what is suitable for reuse after visual inspection and provide guarantees for reuse. In both cases, the entire product is preferably reused, if need be after repair. If that is not possible, choose to reuse components.
- Design for recycling: Choose products whose parts consist as much as possible of mono-materials that are easy to separate from each other.
- Insight into materials: ask for a materials passport or clear marking on the parts. This way the different materials can be recycled correctly.
- Contractual agreements on take-back and recycling: include the take-back (or buy back) in your specifications at the time of purchase. Request guarantees for high-quality recycling if reuse is not possible.
- Stimulate circular business models: As an alternative, you can conclude a contract with a recognized collector that disposes of the products that are no longer reusable, in separate material flows for guaranteed high-quality recycling.
- Reducing toxicity: the presence of toxic substances can have a negative influence on the indoor climate of the office and the health of staff. In addition, they also probibit materials from beying recycled. Therefore it is important to adress in your tender. In particular for these products: adhesives and finishing materials, fluorescent lamps, fillings and upholstery materials for furniture, chrome-plated or galvanized metals, treated, coated or glued wood. You will find guide values and labels for your specifications in the EU GPP criteria.
7 Lessons Learned from the Green Deal Circular Procurement about Lighting
Commit to long lifespan and energy efficiency in new installations.
One solution is to use LED lighting. The significant savings in energy costs immediately create a clear business case. Although 60% of the CO2 footprint is usually caused by material consumption, energy consumption remains lighting’ main impact.
Determine which option retains the most value and the financial consequences over the entire lifespan. A TCO analysis can be useful in this respect. Keep the existing installation, invest in new, more energy-efficient materials, or LAAS solutions? The decision isn’t always easy. The business case also depends on the context of your building or site, so it’s best the supplier and the buyer optimise this together.
Design lighting fixtures and installations with a view to circularity.
Design with a view to reuse, easy disassembly and recycling at the end of life.
Lighting-as-a-service (LAAS) is not necessarily circular.
It’s important to make good agreements about upgradeability, maintenance, repair and take-back at the end of the contract. The best option, therefore, is for the provider to remain the owner of the lighting fixtures. To assess circularity, transparency about the supply chain and processing after take-back is required. LAAS is interesting for major projects (more than 200,000 euros) or projects where upscaling is expected.
Make sure that you sufficiently define and specify circular criteria in your lighting contract documents.
Otherwise, it will be difficult for suppliers to demonstrate the benefits of their circular solutions over traditional installations.
Circular products have to be used in the right place in projects
to be beneficial for the buyers. Circular applications begin to become advantageous if lights are on for 10 hours or more a day. As the number of hours lights are on increases, the system offers more financial benefits for the purchaser.
Make sure the contract is for a long enough period.
As a guide, a contract should be for a period of about 10-15 years for maximum return.
The City of Mechelen was the first customer for ETAP's lighting-as-a-service (LAAS).
In a LAAS model, lamps aren’t sold, but light. ETAP is responsible for providing the City of Mechelen with goo…