In the public sector, it has been a challenge to stimulate social, ecological and economic sustainability with respect to reducing hazardous elements and focusing on more energy-efficient materials for interior design. In order to create incentives for sustainable consumption a method for promoting sustainable practices needs to be developed in order to create a process for sustainable procurement, which does not endanger human health and the environment.
To ensure less environmental impact from public procurement processes the region of Västra Götaland (VGR) in Sweden initiated a system for green public procurement (GPP), with particular focus on care, medical instruments and facility management. Through the project Considerate Design they created a method and a process to analyze the needs of people in everyday life and thereby develop new ideas, provide knowledge and create long-term sustainable vision.
The project Considerate Design started in cooperation with the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (SVID), Svensk Form, and the School of Design and Crafts. The funders of the project were the region of Västra Götaland, Municipal unions in Sjuhärad, Skaraborg and Fyrbodal, SVID, and European Union Structural Fund with public grant funding for demonstration.
Using the method of Considerate Design can help public organizations and architects / designers in their everyday functioning while enabling sustainable changes to public workplaces. Through strategic planning it is possible to use the investment for the preliminary study phase in a smarter and better way, at little or no additional expense.
Through the development and deployment of Considerate Design both public organizations for architects, designers and other companies gained an understanding of sustainable design. The project Considerate Design and VGR's procurement policy has also resulted in the development of the “Green list”. This list consists of companies that have been contracted for interior work with high environmental performance regarding products. Currently, 60% of VGR's products are purchased from the list.
To be included on the Green list, products must meet environmental requirements from the EU Flower, Ecolabelling Sweden and Good Environmental Choice (the eco-label of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation). In addition, companies selling the products have to verify the requirements with an eco-labelling license or through independent third party certification.
The Green list emerged from the Considerate Design project as a way to create a method facilitating sustainable development of public organizations and their work environment. The focus was mainly on increasing the supply and demand for sustainable design and procurement in public organizations.
A specific success factor in the VGR case in Sweden is the good level of dialogue and cooperation between suppliers, architects and designers as well as employees at public organizations. This helped to understand how to create a work environment that suited the business’s idea, incorporating aesthetics, ethics, economy and ecology.
The Green list and the Considerate Design method are currently used by VGR for its own activities, but also by architects and designers. The method has still not reached other areas and can thus be estimated to have reached 8 on the GML scale.