**Winner of Procura+ Award for Procurement Initiative of the Year 2020**

Haarlem with a population of 160,000 inhabitants is a mid-sized city located in the northwest of The Netherlands, in the province Noord Holland. A pioneer in championing ambitious targets Haarlem first introduced an action plan to become climate neutral in 2008. The City bases its public procurement work on this ambition. It strives to be a frontrunner in sustainable public procurement and is working hard to transition into a gas free city with a circular economy. Cooperation between businesses, government, knowledge institutions and citizens ensures the City works effectively, innovatively and sustainably.


    • Host of the 'Meet the Buyer' event series on socially responsible public procurement of ICT
    • Pioneer in applying 'Social Return on Investment' concept in tenders encouraging suppliers to create social value
    • All purchases 100% sustainable since 2016
    • First Action Plan for Climate Neutral Haarlem introduced in 2008





        Date joined


        Valentina Schippers-Opejko

        Coordinator Urban Agenda Partnership on Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement





        More information? Email procurement@iclei.org  

        IN ACTION


        As a city, Haarlem aims to put its 250 million Euro budget to good use by procuring green, fair and circular. The City has developed an ambitious sustainable procurement strategy that takes a holistic approach to SPP, ranging from climate friendly procurement, over circular to socially responsible procurement. The City is a signatory of the "Green Deal" from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management that strives to make sustainability an inherent aspect of roadworks and infrastructure.


        • A completely sustainable, natural gas free energy supply by 2040
        • A transition to a circular economy by 2030
        • By 2020 all civil engineering works will be procured in accordance with the "Green Deal Sustainable Civil Engineering"
        • By 2020, the city will apply award criteria that stimulate energy savings in all tenders for service contracts
        • The city commits to applying award or selection criteria for climate-neutral transport to all tenders for delivery services by 2020


        The City of Haarlem wants to support its local economy through procurement and inspire local SMEs to create social value in their operations by employing citizens with difficulty building a career. The City is also piloting new ways of communicating upcoming tenders with local SMEs for example through dialogue to develop tender criteria that they can fulfil. The result of this work with SMEs is to lower the barrier for them to bid.


        The city of Haarlem participated in the CityMatch on successful contract management and socially responsible public procurement, hosted by the City of Malmö. CityMatch is an exchange programme for cities for procurement professionals to learn from each other about specific topics.


        Social Return on Investment is an evaluation methodology that the city applies to all tenders above a value of 200.000€. A contract clause is included in tenders that determines a percentage of the contract value (5%) that the contractor uses to support people with a distance to the workforce into more stable employment. The contractor commits to doing so in a provable way.



         The City of Haarlem aims to have access to innovations of the future, sometimes via acting as the first customer ('launching customer') for innovative products. Innovation-oriented procurement stimulates the market to develop and deliver innovative solutions, so that social challenges are solved and governments can better perform their public tasks.
        With the Start-up in Residence Programme of the Metropole Region Amsterdam (a cooperation of 2 provinces, 32 municipalities including the City of Haarlem and a regional public transport authority), the participating start-ups gain access to knowledge and are guided by experienced mentors. The cities make workspaces available, offer the opportunity to conduct pilots and test the solutions in the region. The City of Haarlem joined in with a number of challenges in the social domain. There was also a so-called ‘wildcard’. This means that start-ups could also propose a solution for a problem or challenge that they identified themselves.

        The caterer of the City of Haarlem concluded that there was room for improvement in the area of food waste. Meetings and events were often accompanied by a catered lunch, but regularly a meeting is cancelled or people do not show up. That resulted in a lot of food that ended up in the trash. A small and innovative company founded OrderAwareness, software that allows people to indicate whether they are attending a meeting and what they would like for lunch. Because participants have to make a conscious choice, they will also think better whether they actually will attend a meeting. The City of Haarlem cooperated with this company in order to test and develop the software, as a wildcard within the Start-up in Residence Programme.

        During the development phase, both the city and the start-up have learned valuable lessons. Behavioural change plays an important role in the circular and sustainable domain. As a public organisation, we must be willing to take a critical look at our own procedures and working methods, and be prepared to adapt them. At the same time, we have familiarized the start-up with the public organization. It is quite a challenge for entrepreneurs to deal with a government organisation. For example, decision-making often takes more time than they expect.

        During the development phase, both the city and the start-up have learned valuable lessons. Behavioural change plays an important role in the circular and sustainable domain. As a public organisation, we must be willing to take a critical look at our own procedures and working methods, and be prepared to adapt them. At the same time, we have familiarized the start-up with the public organization. It is quite a challenge for entrepreneurs to deal with a government organisation. For example, decision-making often takes more time than they expect.

        More information can be found here.



        The sustainable and circular ambitions of the city of Haarlem are high. We want to be climate neutral by 2030. There is great opportunity and responsibility for the construction sector in the energy transition. The current linear system results in depreciated buildings with no residual value at the end of the useful life, wasted energy and raw materials for adjustments during the useful life and large waste streams after demolition. The construction sector is responsible for 18% of global CO2 emissions. The use of circular strategies offers results. For example, a development trajectory for efficient use of raw materials can already reduce the use of raw materials by 28% and greenhouse gas emissions by 72%.

        Koningstein is a former local government building (offices) of the city of  Haarlem. The municipality owns this building and the associated land. The building dates from 1967, asbestos has been found and the building stands in a built environment. Yet it has to be demolished for new housing, including social rental apartments. After a tender, the company was selected for the dismantling of the building because of its circular approach.

        During the demolition, a recycling container was lifted up by an aerial platform in order to clear the floors of materials in the most efficient way. This method of disposal contributes to the protection of the materials by preventing fall damage, safety and noise pollution. All eligible useful parts of the building have been removed and reused, such as doors, window frames, kitchens or installations. The professional kitchen, sanitary facilities, interior doors and fire reels of the building have been reused directly in Ghana. Some parts of the demolition received extra attention. E.g., the fluorescent tubes and fixtures have been carefully removed, because the tubes contain small amounts of heavy metal that is quite harmful to the environment. These have been made available for immediate reuse. The air conditioning installations have been drained for recycling. Furthermore, the carcinogenic Chromium 6 applications were expertly removed in the building and carefully disposed. The concrete from the building has been reused in road construction. This circular way of dismantling has been a great step towards our ambition of a climate neutral city in 2030.

        Useful links:


        To accelerate the growth of highly innovative start-ups and SME’s and in order to create an environment that stimulates growth, private and public investments, resources and talents the City of Haarlem created an Innovation Procurement Broker platform, driving innovation demand through innovation public procurement.

        This platform was aimed to make an impact and was built using Innovation Procurement Broker concept. This platform is a kind of marketplace for innovation where innovative start-ups and SME’s can present and sell their innovative, socially responsible and sustainable products, services and solutions. It is aimed at purchasing with impact which means that when purchasing a product or service you not only look at the price, quality and delivery time, but also at the effects on people and the environment. Serving a societal purpose is the most important mission for these companies, next to profitability. In general, these objectives are aimed at strengthening inclusiveness, sustainability and quality of life in the city. Their products and services can, for example, create new job opportunities or use waste as raw material for a new product. In this way, impact entrepreneurs make an important contribution to society and the environment.

        The procurement policy of public and private organizations is an important instrument for making a positive contribution. This platform aims to guide public and private entrepreneurs, public authorities and other (social) organizations when purchasing with impact. The Innovation Procurement Broker platform is still growing and developing. In terms of concrete results, there are now more than 400 start-ups, SME’s and other entrepreneurs registered and using this platform to present their innovative products, services and solutions and the number is still growing.

        At a later stage the local public authorities and private buyers will use this platform to communicate their procurement needs and challenges. SME’s and start-ups can directly respond to it.

        More information can be found here.


        Many local businesses see opportunities in energy saving, generating energy and greening their business operations. Experience shows that 20% savings on energy bills is often realistic.


        The City of Haarlem, the IJmond Environment Agency and Park Management Waarderpolder offer entrepreneurs an energy scan worth €375 for free. With this scan, entrepreneurs gain insight into opportunities to save energy and money at their company. An adviser from the Climate Route Agency is investigating the opportunities for energy saving and sustainable energy generation and preparing a digital report. The advisor guides and advises entrepreneurs for a year without further costs. This concerns the implementation of savings measures, advice on sustainable investments, requesting and assessing quotations and the tax options and subsidies. The City of Haarlem helps business with information regarding the best innovative steps to take. More information here.


        Circular economy offers opportunities for companies to save money and make money. With the Haarlem Circular Programme, the City of Haarlem is working with different stakeholders on a change in thinking and behaviour about the production and consumption of goods and energy. In Haarlem, circular entrepreneurs have joined Circle City Haarlem Kennemerland. This cooperative offers a platform for circular entrepreneurs. Circular entrepreneurs can become members for a fee and receive training, inspiration sessions and access to a network of potential clients in return. Link to Cirkelstad Haarlem Kennemerland - Cirkelstad.


        Haarlem Food Future works together with citizens, entrepreneurs and the municipality to make Haarlem's food supply more sustainable. They focus on food education, combating food waste and more space for urban agriculture. Link: Nieuws - Haarlem Food Future.


        From January 1, 2023, office buildings larger than 100 m2 in the City of Haarlem must have at least energy label C. Otherwise, the building may no longer be used as an office. With label C, building is prepared for the future and energy will be saved. This is much better for the climate and the businesses save on energy costs. This is an example of how the City of Haarlem adopts and embraces the National policies on sustainability. Link: Energielabel C | RVO.nl.



        As part of the sustainability agenda Haarlem aims to be fully disconnected from natural gas (main source for heating) in 2040 and provide sustainable alternatives. And so making steps to become climate neutral and drastically reduce CO2 emissions. This puts Haarlem on the forefront of sustainable development in the country, where national legislation requires phasing out of natural gas before 2050. The challenge for pre-war residential neighbourhoods is how we can provide homes in these areas with energy from clean sources for heating, hot water and cooking.

        Together with a team of leading technical university Delft (TU Delft) citizens of the Ramplaan quarter (400 households) have taking on this challenge themselves and have started investigating how this neighbourhood, a typical pre-war residential area, can eventually provide for its own heating and hot water. They have come up with a ground-breaking solution based on solar energy and a clever network of installations for transport, storage and intelligent distribution. In doing so they can create a small-scale district heating for and by the neighbourhood. 

        Key to this project is the use of Photovoltaic thermal collectors (PVT-panels) that, besides electricity, also provide thermal energy. By investing in insulation and ventilation the demand for energy can drastically be reduced. To balance summer and winter demand Seasonal thermal energy storage (STE) is linked to the low temperature network. An individual heat pump for each home ensures that the heat from the PVT-panels and STE source is boosted to the right temperature.

        The project has shown that the construction of a neighbourhood heating network is technically and financially feasible.

        By enabling citizens to shape their future with regards to sustainable energy solutions Haarlem uses local knowledge, initiative and innovative ideas in order to tackle a part of one of the most challenging transitions that Haarlem faces in the next decades. The city teams up with this project in co-creating by bringing in knowledge about infrastructural developments, tenders and access to finance. By fostering synergy between citizens, academia, ground-breaking technology and local government Haarlem stimulates the development of an innovative energy ecosystem. Tenders for construction and management of the system are due to be opened in 2022.

        Early 2020: 275 citizens vote for the next phase of development of their heat network.


        The City of Haarlem stimulates circularity through collaboration and innovative solutions. An example how this works in practice is closing the coffee loop. The City of Haarlem stimulated the current contractors to come up with circular solutions by working together. This resulted in collaboration between three current contractors and a closed coffee loop.

        Old documents (paper waste) must be destroyed carefully as they may contain sensitive information. This supplier is now collaborating with the supplier of the coffee machines in the municipal offices and with the catering supplier. After picking up the old documents, the supplier also collects the coffee grounds (in the past this was discarded) from the coffee machines. On the way to the paper waste facility, he hands over the coffee grounds to a company that grows mushrooms on the coffee grounds. On the way back to the municipality, the supplier picks up the products made from mushrooms. These products are served in the municipal canteen. Therewith the loop is closed.


        What is the difference between the Sustainability Budget of the City of Haarlem and other Dutch Cities? What makes the Sustainability Budget of the City of Haarlem unique? The City of Haarlem goes further with the Sustainable Budgeting than other municipalities. The municipality aims to incorporate sustainability in the policy investments and decision-making processes. For example, through the assessment framework for sustainability, by considering accelerating climate investments through the Revolving Fund for Energy Saving (RFE), and above all through an objective climate monitoring.

        By using and further developing the different tools and ways of reporting in the budgeting cycle, the City of Haarlem can keep track of the viability of the goals which have been set. Therefore, the Sustainability Budget contains transparent information, scenario and impact analyses based on statistical information from the National Dutch Statistics, research information from PBL and other objective sources such as the list of CO2 emission factors.

        ‘Haarlem has a first Sustainable Budget in The Netherlands’ – says the article in Noordhollands Dagblad published on 10th June 2021: Haarlem heeft de eerste duurzaamheidsbegroting van Nederland... - Noordhollands Dagblad

        The Sustainable Budget offers more than just a numerical insight into CO2 emissions. It is a set of measures which provides the framework within which sustainability objectives can be formulated; so that the City of Haarlem can work towards these objectives as efficiently and effectively as possible, using innovative and creative solutions.

        The role the City of Haarlem takes is to facilitate and stimulate progress towards the climate objectives. For example, the catering industry has been supported for years by the City of Haarlem with a sustainability scan, the municipality promotes sustainable procurement and sustainable investments. The City of Haarlem can make green choices towards the climate objectives through zero-emission zones in the transport sector. The Sustainable Budget is crucial for the long-term strategic vision of the City of Haarlem that positively contributing to the transformation of the city and which will further support the development of a robust and sustainable innovation ecosystem. More information can be found here.



        When contracting cleaning services the City of Haarlem opts for day cleaning. Day cleaning allows the cleaning staff to better integrate work and private life, instead of working early or late hours. When awarding a contract the city asked bidders to submit a video showing how they would interact with city employees when cleaning their desks, giving an idea of how they would approach this task in a creative way.



        Urban Agenda for the EU: Public Procurement

        Developing and implementing ambitious procurement strategies as an integrated and supportive management tool for governance.

        The short video about the Urban Agenda Partnership: Urban Agenda Partnership on Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement (EN - with subtitles) - Youtube.

        Link to the site of the Urban Agenda Partnership on Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement: Public Procurement | Futurium (europa.eu)

        Online Course on Strategic Procurement

        The Urban Agenda Partnership on Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement in collaboration with URBACT and Making Spend Matter Initiative developed an Online Course on Strategic Procurement. This free online course helps to equip European cities with the knowledge and tools required to embed social and environmental criteria into their public procurement processes:


        This Strategic Procurement Course is about learning from other cities and exchanging case studies and best practices, promoting mutual learning and capacity building:

        • PRESTON (United Kingdom): #1 Introduction, #2 Spend Analysis and #6 Monitoring
        • HAARLEM (Netherlands): #5 Tendering & Decision Making
        • PAMPLONA (Spain): #3 Identifying outcomes
        • KOSZALIN (Poland): #2 Spend Analysis and #4 Commissioning
        • SCHAERBEEK (Belgium): #2 Spend Analysis

        The link to the Online Course on Strategic Procurement: Procurement | URBACT