Integrating Green Purchasing Into Your Environmental Management System (EMS) - Introduction
As published by the EPA in April 2005.
The goal of this report is to help Federal facilities integrate green purchasing into their EMS. The intended audience includes those tasked with implementing an EMS, reducing environmental impacts, meeting green purchasing requirements and/or buying products and services in a Federal facility.
The Federal government is one of the largest purchasers in the world. In fiscal year 2002, Federal agencies spent more than $250 billion for goods and services to support the activities of approximately 1.7 million employees in 60 agencies. In addition, Federal agencies spent another $15 billion on small purchases via purchase cards.1 Purchasing decisions can significantly influence the environmental performance of Federal facilities. By including environmental considerations in Federal purchasing decisions, government procurement and contracting processes can be used to purchase products and services that reduce an organization’s environmental impacts.
Since 1976, requirements for green purchasing have been incorporated into Federal regulations and Executive Order requirements,2 with a goal of integrating environmental considerations into all stages of the Federal purchasing process. However, based on reporting by Federal agencies on their green purchasing activities, it is evident that Federal agencies are encountering challenges in fully implementing these requirements. Potential environmental costs and benefits associated with choosing one product or service over another may not be routinely factored into purchasing decisions. Different organizations within a facility may have differing perceptions of who is responsible for ensuring that the facility is buying green products and services.3 Environmental staff may be familiar with green purchasing requirements and benefits, but they may find it difficult to initiate facility or agency-wide purchase of green products without the cooperation and support of upper management and those responsible for the purchase and use of these products. Procurement personnel may be familiar with green purchasing requirements but hampered by a lack of requests for green products and services from the user community. Procurement personnel and product users also may not know how to locate green products and services to evaluate their performance and compare their environmental attributes. The EMS process creates an opportunity for environmental and procurement personnel to work together with product users to determine the most effective mechanisms to ensure that staff understands the economic and environmental benefits of green purchasing.
To reduce the Federal government’s environmental footprint and improve the implementation of green purchasing and other greening the government initiatives, the President mandated that all appropriate Federal facilities implement Environmental Management Systems (EMS) by December, 2005.4 As a result, Federal facilities across the country now are endeavoring to develop and implement EMS to improve their environmental performance. The goal of this report is to help Federal facilities integrate green purchasing into their EMS.5 The intended audiences include Federal facility staff tasked with implementing an EMS, reducing environmental impacts of facility activities, meeting green purchasing requirements and/or buying products and services in a Federal facility
Federal organizations can take advantage of the increased emphasis on environmental performance and enhanced internal communication associated with an EMS to expand and encourage green purchasing. Procurement and contracting personnel can play an important role on EMS implementation teams. By using EMS procedures to establish green purchasing objectives and targets and develop operational controls to ensure that the environmental impacts of products and services are included in the criteria for procurement and contracting decisions, agencies can encourage implementation of an effective green purchasing program, reduce their organization’s environmental footprint and encourage progress toward sustainable operations.
This report is organized around the 17 elements of an EMS that conforms to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 (1996) Standard,6 because Federal agencies interviewed for this report indicated that they were either using the elements of ISO 14001 as the structure for their EMS or were familiar with these elements. As a result, ISO requirements are mentioned throughout. While ISO requirements are not mandatory for all EMS developers to follow, those who have chosen to use the ISO framework, as the majority of the 2500 Federal facilities creating EMSs have elected to do, will want to be aware of these requirements. To make the module easy to use, it is provided as an electronic document with both internal and external links.
Section 2, Integrating Green Purchasing into Your EMS is the core of the report and provides:
- • Key information about the requirements associated with each element of ISO 14001;
- • Practical guidance and potential language for integrating green purchasing into procedures for each ISO 14001 element; and
- • Links to Federal facility examples for each element.
Section 3 provides links to additional information on the genesis of this report, EMS, Federal green purchasing program requirements, green product resources, and green purchasing training resources. Contact information for Federal facility staff who participated in the development of this report is available in the Acknowledgments. This document can be found on the web at <www.epa.gov/epp/ems.htm> Federal agencies are encouraged to contact U.S. standards development organizations in order to alert them to the need for standards to meet green purchasing and EMS goals. A partial list of US organizations can be found at www.ansi.org . Consistent with OMB Circular A-119, agencies are further encouraged to participate in the development of voluntary standards through such organizations.
1Federal Procurement Data System, 2002 Report, <http://www.fpdsng.com/fpr_reports_fy_02.html>
2Green purchasing requirements include the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Parts 7, 11, 23; RCRA Section 6002; Section 9002 of the 2002 Farm Bill, Section 303 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992; Section 613 of the Clean Air Act, EO 13101, and EO 13123. See the Federal Green Purchasing Preference Program Requirements section of this module.
4Section 401 (b) of Executive Order (EO) 13148, Greening the Government Through Leadership in Environmental Management. Text of EO 13148 is available at <http://ceq.eh.doe.gov/nepa/regs/eos/eo13148.html>
5Information on how to develop an EMS is available from: EPA <http://www.epa.gov/ems>, the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE) <www.ofee.gov/>, and the Joint Service P2 Technical Library <http://p2library.nfesc.navy.mil/ems/index.html>