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The main source for the presented definitions is the multilingual environmental glossary provided by the European Environment Agency.

Award criteria

Award criteria are the criteria on which the contracting authority will compare offers and base its award.
Under EU procurement rules, only two award criteria can be used ‘the lowest price’ and ‘the most economically advantageous tender’. Where the criteria of the ‘economically most advantageous tender’ is chosen, relevant environmental criteria can be inserted either as a benchmark to compare green offers with each other (in the case where the technical specifications define the contract as being green) or as a way of introducing an environmental element and giving it a certain weighting.

Contract Performance Clauses

Conditions that must be met in the execution of a contract, for example as to how the goods or services are to be supplied or minimum performance standards to be achieved under the contract. Under EU procurement rules, these conditions may include environmental or social requirements, provided that these are compatible with Community law and are indicated in the contract notice or in the specifications.


A mark, seal or written identification attached or affixed to products which provides consumers with information relating to the environmental characteristics of products and thus allows for comparison of environmental performance between products of the same type. More...

Eco-management and auditing scheme (EMAS)

The EU has developed its own environmental management tool – the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) – – for companies and other organisations in all economic sectors to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. Participation in EMAS is voluntary and open to public or private organisations operating in the EU and the EEA.
The objective of the scheme is to promote continuous improvements in environmental performance by: (a) the establishment and implementation of environmental policies, programmes and management systems by companies, in relation to their sites; (b) the systematic, objective and periodic evaluation of the performance of such elements; (c) the provision of information of environmental performance to the public. More...

Environmental Audit

A management tool comprising a systematic, documented, periodic and objective evaluation of how well a project, organisation or equipment is performing with the aim of helping to safeguard the environment. The audit should facilitate management control of environmental practices and assess compliance with policy objectives and regulatory requirements.

GPP criteria

GPP criteria are environmental criteria that address environmental impacts and are designed to be used in procurement procedures. More...

Environmental management system

A means for companies or organisations of ensuring effective implementation of an environmental management plan or procedures and compliance with environmental policy objectives and targets. A key feature of any effective environmental management system (EMS) is the preparation of documented system procedures and instructions to ensure effective communication and continuity of implementation. There are certification systems for EMS ISO 14001 and EC's EMAS scheme (EMAS is now compatible with ISO 14001) which demonstrate that a system is operated to an internationally recognised standard. Alternatively a customised system can be developed addressing the particular needs of the operation.

Environmental product declaration

A description of the aspects and impacts of a product, system or service over its entire life, from raw material extraction, through manufacturing and use, to end-of-life disposal or recycling. More...

Environmental Technologies Action Plan

The Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) is a co-operative initiative between the European Commission, Member States and industry adopted in 2004 and based on the aims of the EU Lisbon Agenda. It intends to overcome the barriers that hinder the development of environmental technologies. This is being achieved through a series of measures to promote eco-innovation and the take-up of environmental technologies in Europe. More...

Green Public Procurement (GPP)

A process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured.

Integrated Product Policy (IPP)

Integrated product policy is an approach that begins by asking how the environmental performance of products can be improved most cost-effectively. It is founded on the consideration of the impacts of products throughout their life-cycle, from the natural resources from which they come, through their use and marketing to their eventual disposal as waste. More...

ISO 14000

The ISO 14000 series is a family of environmental management standards developed by the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO). The ISO 14000 standards are designed to provide an internationally recognised framework for environmental management, measurement, evaluation and auditing. They do not prescribe environmental performance targets, but instead provide organisations with the tools to assess and control the environmental impact of their activities, products or services. The standards address the following subjects: environmental management systems; environmental auditing; environmental labels and declarations; environmental performance evaluation; and life cycle assessment.

Life cycle assessment

Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a process of evaluating the effects that a product has on the environment over the entire period of its life thereby increasing resource-use efficiency and decreasing liabilities. It can be used to study the environmental impact of either a product or the function the product is designed to perform. LCA is commonly referred to as a "cradle-to-grave" analysis. LCA's key elements are: (1) identify and quantify the environmental loads involved; e.g. the energy and raw materials consumed, the emissions and wastes generated; (2) evaluate the potential environmental impacts of these loads; and (3) assess the options available for reducing these environmental impacts. More...

Life cycle costing

Assessment of the costs of a good or service over its entire life cycle. More...

National Action Plans (on GPP)

The National Action Plans (NAPs) on GPP represent the EU Member States’ concrete commitments for greening their public procurement. They contain an assessment of the existing situation, ambitious targets for a three year period and respective measures. The NAPs are typically revised every three years.

Public Procurement

The process used by governments, regional and local public authorities or bodies governed by public law (financed, supervised or managed for more than 50% by public authorities) to obtain goods, services, and works.

Selection criteria

Selection criteria focus on the on factors linked to an economic operator’s overall capacity to perform a contract and assist in the identification of appropriate suppliers, for example to ensure adequately trained personnel or relevant environmental policies and procedures are in place. There are different categories of selection criteria, i.e. exclusion criteria, financial and economic standing, and technical and professional ability. The technical ability criteria can be used to check whether economic operators have the environmental technical competence to perform the contract. More...

Sustainable development strategy

The EU Sustainable Development Strategy was adopted by the European Council in June 2006. It is an overarching strategy for all EU policies which sets out how we can meet the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The Sustainable Development Strategy deals in an integrated way with economic, environmental and social issues. More...

Sustainable Public Procurement

A process whereby contracting authorities take account of all three pillars of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental), when procuring goods, services or works. More...

Technical specifications

Technical specifications provide a clear, accurate and full description of the requirement and standard to which goods, works or services should conform. Under the Procurement Directives (2014/24/EU and 2014/25/EU) contracting authorities can define the required characteristics of goods, works or services, such as quality levels, environmental performance levels, design for all requirements (including accessibility for disabled persons) and other parameters. There are a number of options for how to do this, including by reference to standards or functional requirements, including environmental characteristics.