Buy Green

Statutes, executive orders, and other regulations require federal buyers to purchase products with specific environmental or energy attributes and services under which those products will be used or supplied. This is generally referred to as “green purchasing” or “sustainable acquisition”. When you use your purchase charge card to buy “green” products, you are helping your agency perform its mission while saving money, enhancing energy security, protecting public health, promoting environmental stewardship, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and fostering markets for sustainable technologies, materials, products and services. 

There are multiple components to the Federal green purchasing program:

  • Recycled content products
  • Energy Star and FEMP-designated energy efficient products, low standby power devices, and renewable energy
  • Alternative fuel vehicles/alternative fuel
  • Biobased products
  • WaterSense and other water efficient  products
  • Environmentally preferable products and services
  • Alternatives to ozone-depleting substances
  • EPA Safer Choice-labeled products (formerly Design for the Environment)

This section of the purchase card training addresses all of the components except purchasing renewable energy and alternative fuel vehicles.

The purchase of these products is required by law or executive order unless the products do not meet your performance needs, are not reasonably available, or are only available at an unreasonable price. Most of these products are commercially available off-the-shelf items and are available through GSA stock and schedule programs, Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative solutions, the Defense Logistic Agency, mandatory sources such as the National Industries for the Blind, and commercial open market sources. GSA makes it easy for you to identify which products have environmental requirements.  consolidates federal green purchasing information into one location, making it easy for users to identify applicable green purchasing requirements, legal references, potential purchasing options such as GSA's Multiple Award Schedules and GSA Global Supply, and other guidance for purchasing green products and services. Products are organized by categories such as paper, non-paper office products, office electronics, and appliances.

Buying Recycled Content Products

Recycled content products are designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are also known as Comprehensive Procurement Guideline or CPG items. Under the CPG program, EPA designates products that are or can be made with recovered materials and recommends minimum recycled content levels you should specify when buying these products. Examples of recycled content products typically purchased with purchase cards include office supplies such as copier paper, file folders, and other office paper products, notebook binders, and remanufactured toner cartridges. Refer to the GPC for the current list of EPA-designated CPG products or go to www.epa.gov/cpg for EPA's recommendations and additional information.

Buying Energy Efficient Products  

Energy efficient products include Energy Star products, Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) low standby power devices, and Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)-registered products. Energy efficient products typically purchased with a purchase card include desktop computers, laptops, printers, and small appliances. As of early 2015, the EPEAT registry includes computers and displays (including tablets), printers and copiers, and televisions. Refer to the GPC for the current list of designated energy efficient products. In addition, refer to www.energystar.gov and http:/energy.gov/eere/femp/energy-and-water-efficient-products for efficiency recommendations, cost-effectiveness examples, buyer tips, and product sources. Refer to www.epeat.net for additional information about EPEAT-registered electronic products. Energy efficient products include Energy Star products, Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) low standby power devices, and Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)-registered products. Energy efficient products typically purchased with a purchase card include desktop computers, laptops, printers, and small appliances. As of early 2015, the EPEAT registry includes computers and displays (including tablets), printers and copiers, and televisions. Refer to the GPC for the current list of designated energy efficient products. In addition, refer to www.energystar.gov and http:/energy.gov/eere/femp/energy-and-water-efficient-products for efficiency recommendations, cost-effectiveness examples, buyer tips, and product sources. Refer to www.epeat.net for additional information about EPEAT-registered electronic products.

Buying Biobased Products 

Biobased products are designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and are also known as BioPreferred products. They are made from agricultural materials like soy and corn and wood by-products.  As with EPA’s CPG Program, USDA designates biobased products and recommends minimum biobased content levels you should specify when buying these products. USDA also manages a “USDA Certified Biobased Product” labeling program for both the designated BioPreferred products and other products that contain biobased materials.Examples of BioPreferred products typically purchased with purchase cards include hand sanitizers, glass cleaners, and dish detergent. Refer to the GPC for the current list of BioPreferred products. Visit http://www.biopreferred.gov/BioPreferred/ for the USDA’s recommendations and additional information. Examples of BioPreferred products typically purchased with purchase cards include hand sanitizers, glass cleaners, and dish detergent. Refer to the GPC for the current list of BioPreferred products. Visit http://www.biopreferred.gov/BioPreferred/ for the USDA’s recommendations and additional information.

Buying Water Efficient Products

Water efficient products include bathroom sink faucets, shower heads, low flow toilets, and urinals. Products labeled with EPA’s WaterSense label are 20% more efficient than similar products. Refer to the GPC for the current list of water efficient products. In addition, refer to www.epa.gov/watersense for efficiency recommendations and information, qualified products, case studies, and a water savings calculator.

Buying Environmentally Preferable Products

Environmentally preferable products are products with no- or low-toxic or hazardous constituents, such as green cleaning products or mercury-free thermometers. They also can have multiple environmental attributes, such as a printer that is energy efficient, prints two-sided, and uses recycled content copier paper and remanufactured toner cartridges. At this time, there is no formal list of designated environmentally preferable products other than the EPEAT-registered office electronic products. Refer to the GPC for a partial list of environmentally preferable products, such as green cleaning products meeting EPA’s Safer Choice program. Purchasers can also refer to third-party standards and labels to identify environmentally preferable products.

Refer to www.epa.gov/epp for information EPA has collected on environmentally preferable products, including sample contract language, standards information, product sources, and additional information. The site also has a reference list of EPA and third-party calculators. Environmentally preferable products are products with no- or low-toxic or hazardous constituents, such as green cleaning products or mercury-free thermometers. They also can have multiple environmental attributes, such as a printer that is energy efficient, prints two-sided, and uses recycled content copier paper and remanufactured toner cartridges. At this time, there is no formal list of designated environmentally preferable products other than the EPEAT-registered office electronic products. Refer to the GPC for a partial list of environmentally preferable products, such as green cleaning products meeting EPA’s Safer Choice program. Purchasers can also refer to third-party standards and labels to identify environmentally preferable products. Refer to www.epa.gov/epp for information EPA has collected on environmentally preferable products, including sample contract language, standards information, product sources, and additional information. The site also has a reference list of EPA and third-party calculators.

Buying Alternatives to Ozone Depleting Substances

Although the United States has been very successful in reducing releases of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs), the amount of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere is still significant and will be for decades to come. EPA identifies alternatives to ODSs through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program and provides recommendations for specific products, such as refrigerants and chemicals used in fire extinguishers. Refer to the GPC for products such as appliances that use alternatives to ODSs. Refer to www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/lists/index.html for the latest list of products and alternatives approved by EPA. Although the United States has been very successful in reducing releases of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs), the amount of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere is still significant and will be for decades to come. EPA identifies alternatives to ODSs through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program and provides recommendations for specific products, such as refrigerants and chemicals used in fire extinguishers. Refer to the GPC for products such as appliances that use alternatives to ODSs.Refer to www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/lists/index.html for the latest list of products and alternatives approved by EPA.

Buying Safer Choice-Labeled Products    

President Obama’s Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, directs agencies to purchase products labeled with EPA’s Safer Choice label. Safer Choice helps consumers, businesses, and purchasers find products that perform well and are safer for human health and the environment. Refer to the GPC for the current list of Safer Choice products. Visit http://www2.epa.gov/saferchoice for the list of Safer Choice products by product name and manufacturer. For more information on buying green products and how GSA can help you buy green, please contact Brennan Conaway at brennan.conaway@gsa.gov  or Dana Arnold at dana.arnold@gsa.gov.

The GSA SmartPay® program provides charge cards to agencies/departments throughout the U.S. government, as well as tribal governments, through master contracts that are negotiated with major national banks.

SmartPay® Charge Cards are for Official U.S. Government usage only.

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