95 percent of all new contracts must be green

Tuesday - 5/31/2011, 3:39pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

Agencies must now make almost every acquisition green and more sustainable.

Under an interim rule issued today, the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Council changed the procurement regulations to meet the goals of President Obama's October 2009 Executive Order. The interim rule also incorporates parts of a similar Executive Order issued by President Bush in March 2007.

Agencies have been expected to do sustainable purchasing, but the changes to the FAR make it a mandate.

"Federal agencies are additionally required to implement high-performance sustainable building design, construction, renovation, repair, commissioning, operation and maintenance, management, and deconstruction practices in applicable acquisitions," the interim rules stated. "Contractors will be required to support the goals of an agency's environmental management system."

The FAR Council is accepting comments through Aug. 1 on the interim rule.

Under the new regulation, agencies are required "to advance sustainable acquisition by ensuring that 95 percent of new contract actions (including those for construction) contain requirements for products that are designated as energy-efficient, water-efficient, biobased, environmentally preferable (e.g., EPEAT-registered, non-toxic or less toxic alternatives), non-ozone depleting, or those that contain recovered materials."

The policy also requires agencies to buy recycled content and biobased products or require them in the acquisition of services; the delivery, use, or furnishing of such products, which must meet, but may exceed, the minimum recycled or biobased content of an Environmental Protection Agency or Department of Agriculture-designated product.

The interim rule encourages agencies to accept bid proposals electronically, but if they can't, vendors must "submit paper documents to the government relating to an acquisition printed or copied double-sided on at least 30 percent postconsumer fiber paper whenever practicable. If the contractor cannot print or copy double-sided, it shall print or copy single-sided on at least 30 percent postconsumer fiber paper."

Additionally, the interim rule wants agencies to use EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program to better understand which products are safe alternatives to ozone-depleting substances.

In other acquisition news, the FAR Council issued the final rule amending the regulations to add to the list of contract administration functions, the function to ensure that contractors have implemented the mandatory contractor business ethics program requirements.

"This final rule amends the FAR in response to recommendations from the Government Accountability Office report GAO-09-591, Defense Contracting Integrity - Opportunities Exist to Improve DoD's Oversight of Contractor Ethics Programs," the final rule stated.

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