Sustainable Marketplace: Greener Products and Services

Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing

Collage of green labels mentioned on this page Click image for larger version.
The full list of recommendations is also available as a PDF (updated June 2017). Inclusion in the Recommendations, is not an endorsement by EPA of the standards/ecolabels or of any of the products conformant to these standards/ecolabels, but rather a statement that the standard/ecolabel meets EPA’s Guidelines.

Collage of green labels mentioned on this page
The full list of recommendations is also available as a PDF (updated January 2017). Inclusion in the Recommendations, is not an endorsement by EPA of the standards/ecolabels or of any of the products conformant to these standards/ecolabels, but rather a statement that the standard/ecolabel meets EPA’s Guidelines.

The recommendations of specifications, standards, and ecolabels are intended to help federal purchasers identify and procure environmentally sustainable products and services. Some of the recommendations are based on an independent assessment of private sector environmental performance standards and ecolabels against the multi-stakeholder developed EPA Guidelines for Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels.

Where an independent assessment of a standard or ecolabel against guidelines does not exist, the recommendations are based on specifications, environmental performance standards and ecolabels selected and utilized by other agencies. Currently, the recommendations include standards and ecolabels from:

In general, the recommendations give preference to multi-attribute (i.e., life-cycle based) standards and ecolabels for which EPA has been able to confirm the availability of a competent certification body that is either:

  • Accredited by an accreditation body that is a signatory to the International Accreditation Forum Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (IAF MLA) and has the relevant standard in the scope of its accreditation, or
  • Otherwise meets Section III of EPA’s Guidelines.

Federal purchasers can visit GSA's Green Procurement Compilation to see all relevant federal green purchasing requirements for any product or service, including EPA’s Recommendations.

The assessment summaries provide detailed information regarding the standards and ecolabels in the recommendations. Please email epp@epa.gov to request a copy of a standard/ecolabel’s full Pilot Guidelines assessment. Note that these are only available for standards/ecolabels identified with footnote 1.

Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How did EPA develop the Recommendations?

    The recommendations are based on either 1) an assessment per EPA’s Guidelines for Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels (via a Pilot that ran from March 2015 through December 2016); or 2) analysis and use by other federal agencies. For this second avenue, currently, the recommendations include standards and ecolabels from the Department of Energy's (DOE's) FY16 Priority Products List and the General Services Administration's (GSA's) Key Sustainable Products.  These were issued as Interim Recommendations on September 25, 2015.

    The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA, PL 104-113), Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119 (OMB A-119) (PDF) (43 pp, 505 K, About PDF) and Guidance on Federal Conformity Assessment (15 CFR Part 287) direct federal agencies to coordinate their conformity assessment activities (e.g., certification, testing, and other activities to assess conformance to procurement or other requirements) with those of the private sector to reduce unnecessary duplication. 15 CFR Part 287 and OMB A-119 provide guidance for each Federal agency to use in evaluating the efficacy and efficiency of its conformity assessment activities.  The information on availability of competent certification bodies contained in Section III is intended to assist Federal agencies in complying with these federal laws and policies relating to conformity assessment of ecolabels and standards.

    In addition, EPA has noted where standards have followed the practices of the development of “Voluntary Consensus Standards” as defined by Office and Management Budget Circular A-119. Section 12(d) of The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA, PL 103-114) calls federal agencies to use Voluntary Consensus Standards (VCS) in lieu of government‐unique standards in their procurement and regulatory activities, except where inconsistent with law or otherwise impractical. 

    Federal agency representatives can contact their agency’s Standards Executive for further guidance on implementing the NTTAA, OMB A-119 and 15 CFR 287.

    The 2015-2016 Guidelines Pilot
    On March 19th, 2015, EPA issued a Federal Register Notice to launch a pilot to assess standards and ecolabels against draft guidelines in three product categories: furniture; flooring; and paints/coatings.

    Pilot Timeline:
    March 2015: Pilot and draft guidelines announced in Federal Register; Panel and Governance Committee (GC) members solicited (see below). 
    September 2015: Panels and GC convened in Washington, DC by Resolve, Inc, contractor to EPA, to establish the charter and operating procedures (PDF) (6 pp, 160 K, About PDFand begin developing criteria and example sources of evidence per the draft guidelines. 
    March 2016: Pilot criteria and Information Collection Request (ICR) posted in the Federal Register; applicant standards development organizations and ecolabels solicited to volunteer for the pilot assessment. 
    June/July 2016: Initial Independent Assessment Entity (IAE) assessment conducted, by Industrial Economics, contractor to EPA
    August 2016: Applicants responded with additional sources of evidence and comments on the initial assessment. 
    September 2016: Initial results, applicant comments, and lessons learned shared with pilot community (Panels, GC, and applicants). 
    October 2016: Panel and GC provided comments on final pilot Guidelines and post-pilot approaches
    November 2016: EPA made slight adjustments to and finalized the pilot Guidelines based on comments; IAE reassessed based on new evidence, applicant comments, and guidelines adjustments. 
    December 2016: EPA updated the recommendations of specifications, standards, and ecolabels per the pilot assessments.

    Within the pilot, the product category panels and the service sector panel included a set of experts, with balanced participation from the following stakeholder groups: producers, users, environmental and public health/regulatory, and the standards and ecolabel community. The governance committee included representatives from the panels (one from each of the four panels), elected by the panels, as well as additional individuals who were not Panel members, but instead focused on the pilot’s broader objectives while adding balance and credibility to the GC. More information about who participated in the Pilot along with a list of involved stakeholders. 

  • What if EPA has no recommendations for a product or service category?

    Where there is no specification, standard, or label recommended by EPA, an Agency may elect to use other open and voluntary consensus standards in a procurement. In such cases federal agencies must conduct an assessment to ensure that the specification, standard or label meets the requirements stipulated in the “National Technology Transfer Advancement Act (NTTAA), OMB Circular A-119, and Section II of the EPA Draft Guidelines regarding ‘environmental effectiveness’ (or subsequent updates).”

    The NTTAA requires that all agencies use standards developed by voluntary consensus standards bodies instead of government-unique standards unless inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. OMB Circular A-119 provides guidance on Federal use of voluntary consensus standards and on conformity assessment. Because the NTTAA and OMB Circular A-119 do not address environmental performance, procurement officials are pointed to Section II of the EPA Draft Guidelines for Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Voluntary Use in Federal Procurement, and any subsequent revisions. In Sections I, III, and IV, EPA’s Draft Guidelines address the standards development process, conformity assessment, and ecolabel program management, respectively, consistent with the NTTAA and OMB A-119. Agencies may utilize these guidelines to assist them in assessing standards and ecolabels per the NTTAA and OMB A-119 requirements.  Agencies are directed to consult with and share these assessments with EPA and direct EPA to make these assessments available on its web site.

  • How should agencies procure sustainable electronics?

    Agencies must acquire products that meet or exceed the specifications, standards or labels recommended by EPA as posted on its website. Federal purchasers may continue to use the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) product registry or other methods to identify products that have been third-party verified as having met environmental performance criteria developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies consistent with section 12 (d) of the NTTAA and OMB Circular A-119 (PDF) (43 pp, 505 K, About PDF).

    However, at this time CEQ is not aware of any product registries other than EPEAT for sustainable electronic products. It is possible that in the future other options may be developed that align with EPA guidelines and support the electronic stewardship mandates. Any future tools will have to meet or exceed current levels of sustainable and environmental performance.

    After finalizing the guidelines for Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Voluntary Use in Federal Procurement, EPA will apply the guidelines to product and service categories which "represent the largest share of procurement spending across agencies and potential environmental impact".  When the guidelines are applied to the electronics category, stakeholders will be asked to volunteer other specifications, standards and ecolabels to be reviewed against the guidelines. EPA will review additional specifications, standards and ecolabels to determine if they meet or exceed the current sustainability mandate for electronics and conform to the EPA guidelines.

  • How will EPA update these recommendations?

    EPA will review its recommendations periodically and update them based on assessments per the guidelines or other federal agency analyses/assessments if/when they become available or are updated. Assessments are prioritized by product and service categories which "represent the largest share of procurement spending across agencies and potential environmental impact."

    Please send any suggestions on how to further improve the recommendations of specifications, standards, and ecolabels, or any other related comments to EPP@epa.gov.

Documentation of Updates to Recommendations

June 14, 2017

  • Edited the recommendation of UL standards to also reference UL’s Ecologo certification in the following product categories (cafeteria, construction, custodial, and office/furniture) to better align with DOE’s GreenBuy Program and GSA’s Key Sustainable Products.

March 7, 2017

  • Updated format of recommendations to further clarify differences between applicable statutory requirements and applicable EPA programs.
  • Added a specification regarding indoor air quality/emissions in the furniture product category to address a potential gap in the recommended multi-attribute standards.
  • Updated recommendations to reflect the outcome of new assessments in the carpet & interior latex paints product categories. 

December 19, 2016

  • Updated recommendations to reflect EPA’s assessment of standards and ecolabels submitted for review in these categories: furniture, flooring, and paints/coatings.
  • Improved the format of the recommendations for all product categories.
  • Responded to stakeholder input and technical input from EPA’s Office of Indoor Air regarding appropriate VOC emissions criteria and available conformity assessment bodies providing assessment against this criteria in the following product categories:
    • Adhesives;
    • Carpet;
    • Ceiling Tiles-Acoustical;
    • Fiberboard, Gypsum Panels, and Wallboard;
    • Flooring- Tile, Resilient, and other Non-Carpet;
    • Insulation;
    • Interior Latex Paint;
    • Furniture.
  • Aligned with updates to the FY2017 DOE Priority Products List by adding Commercial Dishwashing Detergent and by removing two product categories: Toner Cartridges and Parts Wash Solution for Machine Shop Operations.

August 1, 2016

  • Added contact information on how to send suggestions about the EPA Interim Recommendations. Please contact EPP@epa.gov.

June 27, 2016

  • Added a tab titled "Accessing Standards" with detailed instructions for US federal government employees on how to access the recommended standards free of charge.

November 10, 2015
Updated the webpage and the PDF version of the recommendations to correctly indicate CPG and BioPreferred requirements in the following product categories:

  • Adhesives (removed reference to BioPreferred – no current BioPreferred requirement for this product category)
  • Carpet (added reference to BioPreferred, deleted reference to "nylon" in first column and added reference to "commercial" in fourth column)
  • Fiberboard (added reference to CPG requirements)
  • Flooring (added reference to BioPreferred requirements for non-carpet floor coverings)
  • Insulation (added reference to CPG on the webpage to align with information in the PDF version)
  • Paint (added reference to CPG on the webpage to align with information in the PDF version)
  • Wastebasket Liners (added reference to BioPreferred requirements)

September 25, 2015

Instructions for US Federal Government Employees on How to Access Standards

The following links exit the site ExitIf you are a US federal government employee who would like access to one of the standards and ecolabels recommended by EPA, please follow the instructions below. The developers of these standards and ecolabels will make them available free of charge to federal government employees for reference and review purposes. Please email EPP@epa.gov if you have any difficulties accessing the below standards/ecolabels free of charge.

Federal agency representatives can contact their agency’s Standards Executive for further assistance.

Access Recommended Standards and Ecolabels Free of Charge:

Instructions: Click the following links to gain access to the following standards/ecolabels. Federal government employees should contact the organization directly to gain free access to the standard/ecolabel.

Access Recommended UL Standards Free of Charge:

Instructions: If you do not already have a registered account visit UL to create one. Anyone with a .gov email address will gain access to the standard free of charge. Once the account is created follow the instructions below:

  1. Click the desired standard above which will take you to the UL website.
  2. Click the red "Purchase Options" button. It will take you to a new page, select "Secure PDF" with no fee, then click the red "Add to Cart" button.
  3. On the next page click the red "Checkout" button.
  4. If not already logged in, you will be asked for your log in information here. Log in and proceed to the next page and click the red "Checkout" button.
  5. On the next page click the red "Go to Download PDF" button and follow the directions to download. You then should have full access to the following standards: