Live Procurement Careers Contact

Utilities frameworks

Key principles of utilities procurement in the built environment

Stock image of utilities project management 1


Share article

Twitter LinkedIn

In this blog, we explore the essential principles of utilities procurement within the built environment, addressing key aspects like project assessment, scope definition, and sustainability.

We spotlight the importance of compliant procurement frameworks and highlight how our team of procurement specialists can help streamline built environment project processes and ensure quality outcomes for your utilities projects.

Continue reading to discover the intricacies of utilities procurement and key insights for professionals seeking to enhance efficiency and sustainability in infrastructure development.

1. Assessing your utilities project requirements

Defining the scope of your project

The frameworks available for procuring utilities-related consultancy, construction works and services, offer organisations that procure in accordance with the Utilities Contract Regulations (UCRs) a range of solutions for upgrading and maintaining utilities infrastructure.

Understanding your project’s requirements and having a clear idea of the social and economic benefits you want to unlock will help you to define the scope and develop a more specific brief.

Identifying success criteria and key project drivers

Construction is cited as a key transformative sector for the future of the UK, and as one of the main accelerators of building back better, greener, and faster, the drivers behind procurement are many and varied.

Identifying what good looks like for you and your stakeholders is critical to setting your project up for success and will help contractors to value engineer the outcomes you need.

Finding the right procurement route

If you want to upgrade or build new utilities infrastructure, on a larger scale, or if you have interdependencies with other sectors, a managed framework like SCAPE’s is a comprehensive solution that can support the assessment and delivery of utilities assets and infrastructure.

Procurement specialists that offer a greater breadth of service delivery through their frameworks, and a project team that can work across disciplines, can help to accelerate your procurement, making it more efficient and enhancing the social value created in your local communities.

Social value in the community

2. Saving time in procurement with direct award frameworks

One of the benefits of direct award frameworks is that they give you access to industry-leading contractors and consultants with the expertise, capacity, and capability to deliver your project requirements – without the need for you to undertake further assessment.

Knowing that the partners delivering your project have been through rigorous checks before being appointed onto direct award frameworks, such as those operated by SCAPE, gives you peace of mind that your project team is of the highest quality, and shares your commitment to delivering social value, creating local jobs and opportunities and maximising return on investment.

Choosing a compliant, direct award framework saves time in procurement compared to traditional tendering and fosters Early Contractor Engagement (ECI).

Direct award frameworks provide immediate access to contractors, allowing you to engage them at the earliest stage. This encourages the discussion, agreement, and implementation of solutions from the start of a project, helping to future-proof the outcomes and give you and your stakeholders the reassurance that your project is being designed and delivered as efficiently as possible.

ECI is a great way to get the most from your procurement. Early collaboration allows you to assemble the best team for your project, engage with specialists in your local supply chain and ensure the right people are involved from the start.

Having contractors and selected supply chain partners providing input early in the design process also helps you to maximise value, drive efficiency through time, labour and resource and minimise the embodied carbon and waste in your projects.

3. Awareness of UK Procurement Regulations for Utilities projects

What are UCRs?

The procurement of works, supplies, and services in the UK by regulated utilities entities who are permitted to operate a utilities network on the basis of “special exclusive rights,” is not governed by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (commonly referred to as the PCRs). Instead, this procurement must comply with the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016 (UCRs), which apply to the following sectors:

  • Rail and metros
  • Ports, docks and maritime
  • Aviation
  • Water and waste
  • Nuclear
  • Energy transmission and distribution
  • Gas distribution and/or district heating networks
  • Telecommunications and postal/logistics

Whether you need to comply with PCRs, UCRs, or if you are unsure, SCAPE can help you find the right route, and our frameworks are compliant with both sets of legislation.

Image of power grids

4. Reducing carbon in utilities projects

Local and national utilities infrastructure procurement can be used to support decarbonisation and build assets that help to maintain a green, low-carbon economy.

By asking questions like “how can I reduce carbon and waste in my construction projects?” early on, you can challenge your project team to balance sustainability and more traditional measures of success.

Delivering sustainable outcomes does not mean having to compromise on time, cost, or quality. In fact, by making carbon one of your project drivers, you can make sure that measures are in place to reduce the embodied and operational carbon whilst creating the low-carbon energy, transport and water infrastructure needed to meet sustainability targets and the needs of your local community.

Sustainable solutions

Next steps for your utilities procurement

Once you have developed your project brief and defined what good looks like for you, your organisation, and your community, accelerated frameworks such as SCAPE Utilities Works and Services, can help you to get started.

As we have already completed the tendering and award stages, our delivery partners’ teams - Kier, McLaughlin & Harvey, and RJ McLeod - can start onsite in a matter of days if needed, keeping costs and time to a minimum.

We support projects in key utilities infrastructure sectors

The SCAPE Utilities Works and Services framework is a comprehensive and efficient route for utilities organisations to deliver infrastructure and related facilities including ports, docks and maritime, rail, metro and aviation and energy including renewables and nuclear. You can also commission multi-utilities projects (diversions) including for gas, electricity, water and telecoms.

Image of water pipes being built

We are compliant

We are a contracting authority and a centralised purchasing body, as defined by Regulation 2 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCRs) and UCRs, and our frameworks are fully compliant with the PCRS and UCRs for England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

We are trusted

Since 2006, we have been helping clients accelerate their procurement through a suite of direct award consultancy, construction, civil engineering and utilities frameworks that demonstrate value for money by driving efficiency, speed and targeted community enrichment.

We are collaborative

Partnerships through SCAPE are built on transparency, trust, and collaboration, and our model creates long-term partnerships that optimise project and procurement management and improve your experience. Through our rigorous procurement process, we ensure that only the highest quality contractors are appointed to lead our frameworks and that they have the right skills, expertise, and capacity to create the outcomes you need.

We are committed to sustainability and social value

Enhanced community benefits that leave a positive and sustainable legacy underpin every SCAPE project, and our frameworks enable you to tailor the socioeconomic outcomes of a project or programme based on the needs of its local community.

For example, you can use your procurement to deliver low-carbon, low-waste projects that support decarbonisation and net zero ambitions, or to maximise community initiatives that engage local people, create jobs, and stimulate economic growth.

We have always championed best practice procurement, and we are committed to continuous improvement to make it more efficient for clients. SCAPE is a member of, and actively seeking verification through, the Constructing the Gold Standard pilot scheme - a collaborative initiative led by Professor David Mosey CBE on behalf of the Cabinet Office, which is designed to improve value, sustainability, and collaboration through public sector frameworks.

Speak to a member of the team about your requirements and start your project today.

I would prefer to be contacted by