Dutch cities share procurement practice with Berlin

After joining the Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition last year, Berlin has undertaken a fact-finding mission to Dutch cities to exchange timber procurement and application experiences and ideas.

In signing up to the STTC, Berlin undertook to stimulate procurement of certified sustainably sourced tropical timber in the city and to broaden its application.

Thomas Schwilling, of the city’s development and environment administration, said the move also tied in with its Nachhaltiges Bauen initiative to increase use of sustainable, high life cycle analysis performance materials in public construction. “Where we see a potential application for certified sustainable tropical timber we will advocate its use,” he said. “In fact, we aim to increase the use of timber overall, as it’s such a sustainable raw material.”

Together with a colleague, Mr Schwilling undertook the Netherlands mission ‘in the framework of its STTC commitment’. They visited Rotterdam, which joined the Coalition at the STTC annual conference in the city last summer, The Hague and the Dutch ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, which is responsible for Dutch Procurement Policy, including for timber.

“An integral concept of the STTC is that members share best practice, so we are not continually reinventing the wheel in terms of procurement and end-use,” said Mark van Benthem of Probos who organised the visit. “This initiative illustrates that.”

On the trip, the delegation talked to city authority and trade representatives, with Rotterdam meetings held at the site of tropical importer GWW Houtimport.

Topics discussed included how chain of custody certification is promoted among timber processors and their customers, including construction companies. Mr Schwilling also looked at how authorities address use of timber in contracts and ensure their criteria are met.

In Rotterdam, they discussed the city’s policy of procuring its own timber for distribution to public projects contractors, with GWW the current nominated supplier. This was described as a best practice, particularly in countries with limited chain of custody certification reach through the supply chain.

The STTC’s hope is that all cities in the Coalition will welcome fact-finding visits from others. “It would be great if urban local authorities ultimately established their own exchange and communication network to pass on experience and expertise within the STTC community,” said Mr van Benthem. “Berlin, for instance, now represents best practice in Germany.”

Other local authority STTC members include Madrid, Barcelona, Leeuwarden, Amsterdam, Reseau Grand Ouest, Cognac and Malmö.