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How to buy resource efficiency equipment

Whether you’re upgrading or replacing equipment, it makes good business sense to choose the most energy and resource efficient option. This guide will take you through the process.

Choose the most efficient equipment

Rising energy, water and raw material costs, and increasing customer pressure to be ‘green’, continue to challenge the way that businesses across Scotland manage their resource use and environmental performance.

Many of the projects that can deliver the biggest savings in the long term are likely to involve purchasing new equipment or investing in building upgrades – from simple heating and lighting controls to the complete upgrade of heating and lighting systems or investment in renewable energy technologies.

This guide will take you through the process of procuring products which will improve the environmental performance and resource efficiency of your business.

Examples of resource efficiency equipment

You may be considering procuring or upgrading some of the following products for your organisation:

  • Heating and cooling systems, like boilers, underfloor heating or heat recovery units
  • Renewable energy technologies, like solar photovoltaic (PV), heat pumps or anaerobic digestion plants
  • Building fabric products like insulation and double glazing
  • Waste and water efficiency products and systems, like water efficient taps, showers and toilets, rainwater harvesting and composting systems
  • Other products to reduce energy and water use, and prevent waste, like energy efficient motors and controls, high efficiency hand dryers and IT equipment

Benefits of following a sustainable procurement process

While most resource efficiency products are likely to be a one-off purchase that will last many years, they should still be part of an overall sustainable procurement system in your organisation.

Sustainable procurement considers the life cycle of a product from extracting the raw material to disposing of the product at the end of its useful life. Products are assessed not just on their price and performance, but also on their environmental impact.

Sustainable products and services are those that:

  • Minimise resource use
  • Optimise energy and water efficiency
  • Prevent waste arising in the first place
  • Use renewable materials
  • Use materials with a high recycled content
  • Have a low impact on the wider environment
  • Are not hazardous or toxic
  • Minimise transport and fuel use
  • Minimise packaging waste

When speaking to potential suppliers, you should make it clear to them that you will be assessing their goods and services based on sustainable requirements as well as value for money. For example, you could ask them to:

  • Minimise the use of materials that may become waste, such as packaging.
  • Reduce the amount of hazardous material in products.
  • Increase the use of recycled materials.

Choosing the most efficient product for your business can lead to:

  • Quality products purchased
  • Costs minimised
  • Ongoing resource savings maximised
  • Increased profits
  • Green credentials
  • Impressing discerning customers

We provide free advice and support to SMEs and may be able to help you identify and prioritise energy efficiency opportunities for your organisation. Find out about available support.

Securing external funding

Some resource efficiency projects, such as installing biomass boilers or upgrading lighting, can require a significant financial investment.

While some organisations have available funds that can be used to finance these projects, external sources of funding, such as loans and grants, often present an attractive option for many smaller businesses. Find out about Scottish Government funding for your project.

If you intend to use an external source of finance, it’s important to check to see if there are any procurement criteria that you need to follow to be able to access the funding.

Collaborating with neighbours

As a smaller business, it’s unlikely that you are going to have the same buying power as larger organisations that can place volume orders and command lower prices.

But by working in partnership with other businesses like your own, it may be possible to put the benefits of economies of scale into effect and negotiate better prices for you and your partners.

Possible partnerships and group buying opportunities you might like to explore before going it alone could include:

  • Your sectors trade association.
  • Your local chamber of commerce.
  • Neighbouring businesses in your community.
  • Other businesses in your building or industrial estate.
  • Members of your business improvement district.

Our guide to developing a business case for your energy efficiency projects will show you how to prepare a robust business case to support your proposed investment decision and how to present a strong case for investment to your senior management or external lenders.

Technical and financial considerations

If you’re looking to buy a biomass heating system, our guide on how to carry out a successful biomass heating project provides specific and all the information you need to have informed conversations with potential suppliers.

You should also consider your financial requirements. You might want to consider breaking down your technical requirements and supplier requests into ‘nice to haves’ and ‘need to haves’. This will make it easier for you to prioritise estimates. You should consider ongoing financial requirements too.


Find and shortlist suitable suppliers

To help you find a supplier that matches your needs, we have a list of trade bodies and other organisations that can help you find suppliers of the products you are looking for.

If you don’t know anyone who has undertaken a similar project or want to do more research, you can use the Green Network for Businesses directory.

  1. Review estimates and supplier capabilities

Once you receive estimates from suppliers, you can compare them against the requirements you have set including all your technical, financial, after-sales and delivery needs.

You should then compare costs, ensuring that you are comparing like-for-like prices including any additional fees, such as those for consultancy, delivery and set-up.

It’s likely you will want to go back to some or all the potential suppliers to discuss their estimates and ensure you understand specific features that you are being offered. This also gives you an opportunity to negotiate better prices and/or a higher value offering and gives the suppliers a chance to finalise their proposals before you make your final purchase decision.

  1. Scoring your potential suppliers

It can be very useful to use a formal scoring process to assess and compare the various estimates you have received so that your decision-making is clear and robust. Your scoring system could score suppliers against the following questions:

  • How well does the solution match my technical requirements?
  • Can they deliver when needed?
  • How competitive is their price?
  • How good are payment terms?
  • Have they demonstrated their track record with similar projects?
  • How good is their warranty/guarantee?
  • How good is their after-sales support?

Now you can place an order with the highest ranking supplier.

Add your project to the Green Network for Businesses

Once your project is complete, don’t forget to add it to the Green Network for Businesses directory. Not only is this a good way of demonstrating your green credentials to your customers and stakeholders, but it will also help inspire and inform other businesses.

Further support

Find out about further support for your organisation.