Industry Market Trends

Sustainability Growing in Importance to Defense Industry Procurement Professionals

Aug 20, 2013

Credti: Tim Beach. Credti: Tim Beach.

Sustainability and defense procurement seem like an unnatural pairing. But a new market report says otherwise. Sustainability management budgets are on the rise and have been for the past several years, the report shows.

In its report, the  Strategic Defence Intelligence (SDI) analyzes what sustainability means to the global defense industry and how it is being implemented. In addition, it offers opinions and strategies of business decision-makers and competitors, and examines actions taken to ensure sustainable procurement practices and marketing green initiatives.

SDI is a business information provider focused on delivering real-time customer and competitor intelligence in the defense industry. The firm's sustainability in procurement report compares data collected during four years of survey responses from an exclusive B2B panel of senior decision-makers. It reveals how executives in the global defense industry perceive the concept of sustainability, and explores the main drivers and challenges of sustainability management in defense procurement. Furthermore, the report provides a forecast of changes in demand for various sustainable products and services in different markets across the globe.

Purchasing professionals are being increasingly empowered to consider sustainability in buying decisions, as recently reported in sister publication IMT Procurement Journal

The defense industry is no different. Overall, 79 percent of buyer respondents to the SDI survey identify technical expertise as a key prerequisite for the implementation of sustainability technologies, and 68 percent are focused on long-term goals. Cost savings, operational efficiency, and staying ahead of the curve on technological developments are the main drivers of sustainability purchases, according to 58 percent of respondents.

Fifty-six percent of the respondents from defense organizations consider materials that improve efficiency as the most important factor when considering green products and services. This is followed closely by materials that reduce fuel consumption, which 53 percent of  the respondents listed as key.

The No. 1 efficiency measure is the adoption of video-conferencing, which 56 percent of the respondents say they have implemented, according to the report. Other highly implemented measures include educating staff on energy management practices (47 percent), using energy-efficient facilities or control systems (46 percent), and defining clear goals for savings (41 percent).

Recycling is the most prominent practice for waste management, practiced by 63 percent of the respondents. CCTV drain and manhole surveying and a chemical tracking system are also identified as other widely accepted practices, according to 42 percent and 37 percent of respondents respectively.

Frequent readers of IMT Green & Clean Journal will not be surprised to learn that sustainability management budgets for defense buyers have risen continuously for the past four years. On average, budgets rose 7.3 percent in 2012, 7 percent in 2011, and 6.8 percent in 2010. This trend is predicted to continue, though at a slightly slower pace. The report forecasts that these allocations will increase by 3.2 percent over the next 12 months.

When it comes to choosing a supplier, defense organizations consider such factors as energy consumption reduction, the effective minimization of water consumption, and recyclable or reusable product components. The SDI survey predicts a growing demand among defense organizations for energy efficient facilities, alternative fuels, and ceramic matrix composites.

Suppliers looking to promote their green products to defense buyers should focus on explaining cost-benefits of sustainability, according to 28 percent of defense respondents.