Dominican Republic Prepares to Harness the Potential of Sustainable Public Procurement to Target Air Conditioning Savings

by UNEP United for Efficiency (U4E); Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat - 11 March, 2024
Indhira De Jesus, the Vice Minister of Environmental Management and Natural Resources: "It is essential to integrate energy efficiency into efforts to reduce emissions that cause global warming.”

On 29 February 2024, more than 100 public sector procurement officials and suppliers came together in Santo Domingo for a workshop on sustainable public procurement of air conditioners convened by UNEP U4E and hosted by the Dominican General Directorate of Public Procurement and the Ministry of Environment Ozone Programme.

The workshop was set against the background of the National Development Strategy (Law 1-12), the country’s 2020 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the National Cooling strategy draft and decree 617-22 of the Green Purchasing Policy and was carried out under the umbrella of the Dominican Republic – Promoting Sustainable Cooling project, funded by the UNEP-convened Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).

Law 1-12 establishes a binding commitment to achieve a reduction in GHG emissions of 25% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels, and mandates a review of targets to reduce emissions every five years until 2030, while the 2020 NDC established initiatives that offer greater clarification, ambition and transparency to target a higher 27% reduction. For air conditioners, this includes mitigation options such as introducing Minimum Efficiency Standards (MEPs) and labelling, which is expected to result in emission reductions of 3105.80 Gg CO2eq, an air conditioner replacement programme for all consumer and service sectors based on new, more efficient standards.

Decree 617-22 was enacted in October 2022 by the President of the Dominican Republic to create a new institutional framework and mechanism for the Dominican government to increase sustainability in the national procurement system.

The workshop aimed to provide practical support in achieving these objectives through sustainable public procurement for cooling appliances, and the discussion on national third-party laboratories for air conditioners. The workshop raised awareness among key stakeholders and end users about the strategy to transition to low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and highlight the importance of energy efficiency in all public administration bodies for the acquisition of goods, works and services. It also provided an opportunity to present details of the technical and financial feasibility study for the establishment of an energy efficiency and refrigerant gas testing laboratory for air conditioners in the Dominican Republic which was carried out as part of the sustainable cooling project.

It opened with an opening address from Indhira De Jesus, the Vice Minister of Environmental Management and Natural Resources, who emphasised, “It is essential to integrate energy efficiency into efforts to reduce emissions that cause global warming.” Further words of welcome and context were provided by Carlos Pimentel, the Director of Public Procurement and Public Contracts, Alfonso Rodríguez, the Vice Minister of Savings and Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Energy and Mines, and Max Puig, Executive Vice President of the National Council on Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism, which highlighted the strong Government commitment to deliver a sustainable and green economy.

During his address, Rodriguez expressed the importance of the implementation of Decree 158-23 on energy saving and energy efficiency, which declares that the implementation of energy consumption reduction policies in more than 200 government institutions is in the national interest.

Speaking specifically on the workshop, Mr Pimentel stated, “These workshops allow progress in the implementation of the Green Public Procurement Policy, through the design of instruments that allow the State to start buying differently and thus promote the sustainable and inclusive development of the country, adding value and coherence to public spending.”

Max Puig expanded on this sentiment stating, “This workshop will raise awareness among government agencies and private sector actors to serve as a model and send a strong signal to the market to achieve multiple benefits such as the reduction of direct and indirect GHGs, improved energy security, economic competitiveness, resource efficiency through the sustainable and inclusive public procurement.”

Following the introductions the presentations moved on to an update on the legal basis and procedures for the implementation of the national green procurement policy and details of the action plan for implementation of Decree 612-22, setting this in the context of the Global Cooling Pledge, to which the country was a founding signatory at COP28, and other international commitments.

Mr. Miquel Pitarch, UNEP U4E’s air conditioning expert, shared details of international best practices on green purchasing, energy efficiency in the context of the Montreal Protocol and climate change, and possible applications in the Dominican Republic. This included details of the UNEP U4E, Green Public Procurement Technical Guidelines and Specifications for Energy-efficient Air Conditioners, which include a step‑by‑step approach on how to apply sustainability and current best technical criteria for air conditioners in accordance with best international regulatory, social and environmental practices, and introduce the rationale to be adopted by procurement practitioners when selecting among a set of products. By using the specifications laid out in the guidelines, government and public bodies can lay a strong foundation for the introduction of sustainable public procurement criteria and help facilitate a rapid transition to more energy-efficient and climate-friendly air conditioners.

In the lively discussion sessions, questioning focussed on several key topics. Participants were particularly interested in the availability of refrigerants with low GWP, highlighting the importance of transitioning to environmentally friendly options, and the necessary qualifications and training for technicians to ensure the optimal and safe operation of appliances. Another focal point of the discussion was how to incorporate energy efficiency and other sustainability criteria into selection procedures, such as awarding points or calculating the life cycle cost of appliances, rather than relying solely on initial prices as main parameters.

During the afternoon season, the focus shifted to presenting the findings of a study assessing the technical and financial feasibility of establishing an energy efficiency laboratory for air conditioners in the Dominican Republic, conducted as part of the sustainable cooling project. Such a laboratory would play a crucial role in supporting monitoring, verification, and compliance efforts related to energy efficiency policies, including sustainable public procurement and future MEPS. In 2021, the Dominican Republic, with technical support from UNEP U4E under the Caribbean Cooling Initiative (C-COOL), developed a draft National Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Strategy, which identified MEPS as national priority among other actions to manage the growing demand for refrigeration and air conditioning.

A significant observation was that the implementation of mandatory MEPS would generate sufficient demand for testing services, making the laboratory financially viable. There is notable interest from the industry in having a national independent laboratory to test their appliances, and additional demand could arise from verification tests for market surveillance, requests from other countries, and research and development activities.

Discussions during the session also covered various aspects of the laboratory, including its capacity, type, cost, and potential locations. It was clear from the discussion following the presentation that a laboratory capable of testing air conditioners up to 42,000 BTU/h would effectively cover most of the domestic and light commercial market, with a calorimeter-type setup deemed most suitable for conformity assessment and market surveillance purposes. Furthermore, governmental institutions and universities participating in the workshop expressed willingness to be considered as options to host the laboratory.

The national authorities are committed to transform the air conditioning market into one that is more efficient and environmentally friendly through the implementation of targeted policies and actions.

For more information on the workshop or the Dominican Republic – Promoting Sustainable Cooling project, contact Marco Duran, UNEP U4E Energy Efficiency and Cooling Specialist, at marco.duran [at] or Ava Bahrami, Communications Officer, Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat at UNEP, at ava.bahrami [at]

A video summary of the workshop is available to view on the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources YouTube Channel.