Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
Tools and Resources
How does one practice EPP? This page provides a collection of available tools and other resources to help individuals and organizations initiate or improve their EPP performance.
California State Government
- Buying Green Guide for Buyers (Department of General Services) Provides links to California state contracts that offer environmentally preferable products. DGS and for some products there is additional information about buying green. Considers California environmental laws and regulatory standards. All state government entities should check the Buying Green Guide for Buyers for requirements specific to state purchases.
- Green Purchasing Toolkit (National Association of Counties) Covers comprehensive and basic information about EPP, eco logos and standards, writing bids, model policies, product guides, case studies and more. This includes examples from various local governments in California.
- EPP Resources (U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency) Contains comprehensive information on green products and services, federal green buying requirements, how to
calculate the costs and benefits of purchasing choices, and manage green purchasing processes. It also provides
- Green purchasing guides
- Database of product-specific purchasing information (e.g., environmental standards and guidelines or contract language)
- EPP Case Studies
- Products with Recycled Content. One aspect of EPP is buying products with recycled content. Less energy is typically required to make a product with recycled content, even when transportation is considered, so buying products with recycled content offers greater environmental benefits as compared to products made from virgin materials. Also, buying products that are reusable or recyclable extends the use of the materials they contain and contributes to a truly cyclical and sustainable material flow.
- Buy Recycled Resources. Extensive listings of online resources for purchasing recycled-content products and other environmentally preferable products.
- Recycled-Content Product Directory. Lists thousands of recycled-content products, as well as manufacturers, distributors, and reprocessors that produce the products or process the materials used to make them.
- RecycleStore. Showcases innovative recycled-content products made in California Recycling Market Development Zones and puts you in touch directly with their manufacturers.
- State Agency Buy Recycled Program. Explains requirements for state agencies.
- Marketing EPP Product/Services to State Agencies (CalRecycle). Offers information to assist businesses in marketing their environmentally preferred products and services to state government entities.
California Specifications and Standards for Select Products
Check the Buying Green Guide for Buyers maintained by the California Department of General Services for the latest information. CalRecycle has focused on making environmentally preferable product options more available, especially for these products:
Carpet accounts for a significant portion of municipal solid waste-about 3.2 percent by volume, and can have significant impacts on the indoor environment. For these reasons, California environmental agencies participated in the development of an environmental specification for carpet procurement. In 2004 the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB, now known as CalRecycle), California's State and Consumer Services Agency, and the Department of General Services, aided by a grant from the U.S. EPA Region 9, developed the California Gold Sustainable Carpet Standard (2006) (PDF, 298 KB). Features of this standard were incorporated in the NSF 140, platinum level, and became the standard for carpet purchased by state facilities, when it was incorporated into the State Administrative Manual, Management Memo 10-01 (PDF, 28 KB).
CalRecycle’s Green Project Specifications page explains the basics of project specifications and identifies areas to include environmental specifications into a building project. Links to example specifications are also provided. This page also briefly explains CSI MasterFormat™.
In response to the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003, the CIWMB (now CalRecycle) evaluated and adopted the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (Word, 33 KB) (EPEAT) rating system as environmental purchasing criteria to be used by state agencies to identify electronic devices with reduced environmental impacts. The Department of General Services then incorporated EPEAT silver level or better in state contract specifications and this continues as a mandatory requirement. EPEAT certification exists for desktop units, laptop or notebook computers, and monitors and is expanding to printing devices, televisions and cellular phones.
In 2000, an interagency subcommittee of the Sustainable Building Task Force finalized a groundbreaking environmental specification for modular office furniture purchased under state contract. The specification set new industry standards for indoor air quality, prescribed a high level of recycled content in components and packaging, banned chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) used in foam production, and addressed energy-efficient task lighting designed for work stations. In 2012, California’s Open Office Panel System contract continues to set standards for energy efficient lighting, indoor air quality, and recycled content in materials. Recycled and post-consumer content minimums were set across a variety of categories, from fiberglass to steel.
In August, 2006, Green Seal, Inc. and the Product Stewardship Institute announced the completion of a national environmental standard for recycled-content latex paint. The standard is aimed at assuring consumers that recycled paint, in addition to being environmentally beneficial, can perform as well as virgin paint, both in terms of ease of application and quality and longevity of finish. The standard, GS-43, is available online (this standard incorporates the performance standard developed by the Master Painters Institute for recycled paint). The Department of General Services has a contract for recycled latex paint that incorporates these standards. Certified recycled latex paint offers the same performance as virgin paint, but at a reduced cost.