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Green Purchasing

Often, businesses trying to implement greener practices struggle with the “how to.” They aren’t certain where to turn to for help and aren’t sure what it is they need to change. A recent webinar hosted by the EPA aimed to help answer those questions.

The EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Web Academy presentation entitled, “Green Purchasing: Tools for Federal, State, and Local Governments.”

This informative webinar showcased the initiatives, programs, and successes from three organizations:the Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN), the Department of Energy (DOE), and King County, Washington, which encompasses the greater Seattle area. This webinar looked to educate the public about tools to develop and implement a green purchasing policy by explaining in detail many strategies and resources.

From a private business to a government agency or someone wanting to improve their household, the webinar gave insight into a wide spectrum of green practices that can be implemented to improve environmental impact and save money.

Alicia Culver, director of Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) kicked off the discussion. A green procurement expert, Culver offered advice for organizations seeking to shift their procurement toward greener products. She encouraged organizations to take stock of the products they procure currently, and identify where greener options are available. The RPN website provides purchasing guides, climate benefit calculators, and webinars to help define and implement an energy-efficient procurement policy.

From the DOE, Shab Fardanesh, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Sustainable Acquisition Coordinator, and Jeff Eagan, the Sustainable Acquisition and Electronics Stewardship Coordinator, presented. They have been working together to launch the GreenBuy Awards Program, an incentive program for DOE facilities and contractors. The GreenBuy Awards Program highlights and congratulates those DOE facilities and contractors who best implement environmentally friendly products. A two-phase tracking system for evaluation of improvement and yearly increases in standards are key points to this program. The DOE provides a list of all approved products. This program could serve as a terrific model for other organizations to follow in order to improve their own procurement practices.

King County’s Environmental Purchasing Program manager, Karen Hamilton spoke about the policies, goals, and achievements that have led King County, Washington to be recognized as a model leader for environmental purchasing. A county policy to “buy recycled and environmentally preferable products whenever practicable” was established as King County focused on ways to calculate savings by utilizing multiple outside resources. Karen put forth practices to examine, expose, and track all areas of King County’s practices in order to find room for improvement. An Annual Sustainability Report detailing the climate change, energy, green building, and environmental purchasing programs is created each year. Karen Hamilton and King County have really laid out a terrific model for not just other counties, but businesses, organizations, and heads of households to examine and adapt to their own practices.

The EPA was quite successful in their webinar as it clearly defined multiple ways to improve procurement practices.The offering of practical and successful solutions to improving policy, creating programs, and realizing areas of importance should be of great benefit to anyone interested in improving their environmental sustainability. With great material from many highly experienced and expert people and the work they have achieved, there is a great potential for learning and expanding green initiatives.

Here are a few of the resources highlighed in the webinar, but the ASBC still urges you to visit the EPA to learn more.