Agencies told to take closer look at green buying

Thursday - 10/13/2011, 3:36pm EDT

For each acquisition, agencies now should determine how green the products and services they are buying actually are.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is encouraging agencies to determine the acquisition's environmental attributes and ensure they are using the correct — and recently updated — product service code (PSC).

"Choosing the suitable environmental attributes for service contracts may be more complex than determining the appropriate environmental attributes for contracts that procure products," wrote Dan Gordon, OFPP administrator in an Oct. 6 memo to agency acquisition executives.

The General Services Administration recently updated the PSC manual, highlighting those products that are biobased, energy efficient and green.

Gordon said agencies should take specific steps when determining how green the products and services are:

  • Consider the results or outcomes of the services being acquired and whether these can/should include materials, equipment, or support that can be considered sustainable;

  • Consider the materials, equipment, buildings or items being serviced through the contract that may have an environmental impact or attributes;

  • Consider the life cycle impacts, including manufacturing, operation, maintenance and disposition, of products and services that may have an environmental impact.

"These changes should improve agencies' information collection efforts, reduce the reporting burden related to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act report, and streamline agency input and reporting for the OMB Scorecard on Sustainability/Energy and annual Sustainability Plans," Gordon wrote.

The memo is the latest step the administration has taken to push agency acquisitions to be more sustainable.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring agencies to reduce their carbon footprint by improving how they use energy, including gasoline, and by demonstrating leadership on environmental issues.

The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council issued an interim rule earlier this summer requiring 95 percent of all applicable new contract actions to include sustainability requirements, such as procuring federally-designated green products. The FAR also will require agencies procure designated items composed of the highest percentage of biobased content practicable.

GSA, through its Integrated Acquisition Environment (IAE) initiative, recently updated the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) to let agencies better capture sustainability-related data on mandatory purchase requirements.

"For example, contracting officers will now be able to select from a drop-down menu if the product or service being purchased is energy efficient, biobased, or has other characteristics," Gordon wrote. "These initial changes will be effective in October to support collection of information for Fiscal Year 2012."

RELATED STORIES:

95 percent of all new contracts must be green

GSA tries to dispel myths on green purchasing rule

Agencies have plans, now will go green