Eindhoven learns valuable lessons from construction machinery electrification tender

Eindhoven used a recent road renovation project (including sewer replacement) to see how it can use procurement to reduce emissions from the Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) used on public works sites. The results proved highly satisfactory; the city found that the majority of the tools used would be cheaper if they were electric rather than diesel-fueled. Eindhoven now wants to use this tender as a blueprint for future procurements.

Eindhoven made a comparison matrix for each tool and machine type used in the construction project to see which fuel type – diesel, biofuel (stage IV or V), or full electric – would be most sensible to use, taking into account added costs and CO2 emissions. The city wanted to see the impact the use of cleaner fuel would have on SMEs, but was concerned that the market would have to deal with higher costs. Yet, for almost every tool used, the electric alternative turned out to be the most economically viable option. The exception was the electric pump, mainly because the electric car that was used to charge the pump had to be surveilled with a camera around the clock.

As a consequence, 100% of the handheld tools used in the project were electric. Beyond the financial benefits, this was also less nuisance and noise for employees, and less local smell and air pollution. The employees noticed these benefits as well, but the new approach did lead to some adjusted working methods. Employees had to plan their break times around power consumption and get used to new tools. They also had to carry battery packs around the site, which was solved by the use of charging stations.

For the city itself, the main challenge was the fact that it is currently not responsible for the fuel consumed by machinery on its public construction sites, which means that it has to continuously think about its role in the charging infrastructure in the case of electrification. Yet, this tender showed that by the end of 2022 the city can have all small tools be zero-emission. It is also planning to apply the criteria used in this tender to all vehicles and NRMM it procures in the future.

In the current tender, buses and trucks were excluded from the electrification requirements as market dialogue showed that it would have had negative consequences for the contractor. From 2025 though, the municipality will use a ‘comply or explain’ method in all its vehicle procurements, meaning that all vehicles used must be electric, unless the contracted party can prove that this is technically unfeasible. Until 2025 the municipality will use award criteria to give more weight to electric and biofuel options than to diesel ones.

Through participation in the Big Buyers working group on zero-emission construction sites, the city of Eindhoven joins16 other European public authorities in aligning their procurement approaches to promote innovation in emission-free solutions for construction sites. Find out more about the working group’s participants and joint activities here: https://bigbuyers.eu/working-groups/zero-emission-construction-sites