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Card/Account Holders and Approving Officials Purchase Training

Lesson 4: Shop Small, Smart, and Green

How do purchase card/account holders support small businesses?

Purchase card/account holders should consider shopping at small businesses. Increasing opportunities for small businesses in federal contracting is a top priority. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) are working to improve access for small businesses to the federal market and boost communications about federal business opportunities. Remember, it is important to consider small businesses when buying goods and services at or below the micro-purchase threshold.

How can purchase card/account holders shop smarter?

The FAR states that use of the GSA SmartPay Purchase card/account is the preferred method for buying small purchases.

Here are some tips to help you shop smarter when using your purchase card/account:

  • Use GSA Advantage! to conduct quick and easy market research and to order already negotiated low-price items.
  • Take advantage of the Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) your agency has negotiated to get better prices.
  • Utilize the Best-in-Class contract vehicles.
  • Always ask for discounts at the register - whether or not POS discounts are given.
  • Locate merchants that accept Mastercard and Visa by using merchant/supplier locator tools at and

What does it mean to “buy green”?

Sustainable acquisition or green purchasing refers to the procurement of products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose.

Benefits to using your purchase card/account to buy green products are that you help your agency to perform its mission while:

  • Saving money.
  • Enhancing energy security.
  • Protecting public health.
  • Promoting environmental stewardship.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Fostering markets for sustainable technologies, materials, products and services.

In addition, regulations require federal buyers to purchase products with specific environmental or energy attributes and services under which those products will be used or supplied.

There are multiple components to the federal green purchasing program:

  • Recycled content products.
  • Energy Star and Federal Energy Management Program (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.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safer Choice labeled products.

Green purchasing 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. However, most green products are commercially available off-the-shelf items and can be purchased through the GSA stock and schedule programs, Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) solutions, the Defense Logistic Agency (DLA), mandatory sources such as the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and commercial open market sources.

GSA assists you with identifying which products have environmental requirements by consolidating federal green purchasing information into one location where you can identify applicable green purchasing requirements, legal references and potential purchasing options such as GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules and GSA Global Supply, as well as other guidance for purchasing green products and services.

What are recycled content products?

Recycled content products, also known as Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) items, are designated by EPA. 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 include copier paper, file folders, and other office paper products, notebook binders and remanufactured toner cartridges.

Refer to the Green Procurement Compilation (GPC) for the current list of EPA-designated CPG products or go to for more information.

What are energy efficient products?

Energy efficient products include:

Energy efficient products typically 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, Energy Star and the Federal Energy Management Program may have efficiency recommendations, cost-effectiveness examples, buyer tips and product sources. Lastly, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool has additional information about EPEAT-registered electronic products.

What are biobased products?

Biobased products, also known as BioPreferred products, are designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). They are made from agricultural materials like soy and corn and wood by-products. As with EPA’s CPG program, the USDA designates biobased products and recommends minimum biobased content levels you should specify when buying these products.

The 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 include hand sanitizers, glass cleaners and dish detergent.

Refer to the GPC for the current list of BioPreferred products and visit for more information.

What are water efficient products?

WaterSense labeled products are 20% more efficient than similar items. Water efficient products include bathroom sink faucets, shower heads, low flow toilets and urinals.

Refer to the GPC for the current list of water efficient products. In addition, go to for efficiency recommendations and information, qualified products, case studies and a water savings calculator.

What are 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 the current list of products that use alternatives to ODSs, like appliances. And, go to for the latest list of products and alternatives approved by EPA.

What are safer choice-labeled products?

EPA’s Safer Choice label 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. In addition, visit for the list of Safer Choice products by product name and manufacturer.


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