Buying green — sustainable purchasing
We provide guidance to state agencies, local governments, and businesses on how to buy green products. Find out more about laws that direct agencies to purchase green products, how to use standards and certifications, and examples of agencies that are buying green.
State agencies, local governments, and private companies have many opportunities to reduce the impact of their operations through sustainable procurement, also known as environmentally preferable purchasing, or EPP.
By purchasing environmentally preferable goods and services, governments and businesses can:
- Reduce the impact of their operations.
- Influence manufacturers and vendors to offer goods and services that are safer and more climate friendly.
Washington state agencies are directed to increase environmental purchasing by both executive order and legislation. Ecology also supports policies and legislative efforts to advance EPP and the availability of green products on state contracts.
Guidance on buying environmentally preferable products
- Guidance on specific state contracts — state contracts can also be used by political subdivisions, higher education institutions, certain nonprofits, and through other cooperative purchasing contracts
- Guidance on Washington's green purchasing laws, rules and executive orders
Cooperative purchasing offers agencies the opportunity to save money through bulk purchasing and lower procurement-related costs for green products.
Washington State Purchasing Cooperative
The Washington State Purchasing Cooperative is a program through which non-state agency organizations can access state goods and services contracts. As a volume purchaser, the state negotiates better rates for goods and services. State agencies are automatically enrolled in the cooperative. Washington state cities, counties and municipalities, and nonprofit organizations receiving funding from local, state, or federal governments are also eligible.
- King County Director's Association — a purchasing cooperative owned by Washington's public school districts.
- U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance — a government purchasing cooperative.
- GoGreenCommunities — a program of the U.S. Communities alliance with green products, services and resources.
Examples of sustainable procurement in local governments
Environmentally preferable purchasing policies, product fact sheets, green purchasing lists, model contract language, and annual reports from local governments in Washington and nearby states and provinces can be found below:
- City of Seattle
- Seattle’s Sweat-Free and Slave-Free Purchasing Policy
- City of Spokane
- City of Tacoma
- Clark County
- King County
- Pierce County
- Snohomish County's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing and Product Utilization Policy (EPP)
- Snohomish County's Green Product Resource Guide
- City of Portland, Oregon
- City of San Francisco
- City of Vancouver, B.C.
Building an EPP program
The following resources provide guidance for building environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) programs:
- EPP Resource Guide
- Developing a Successful EPP Program
- Focus on Responsible Meetings
- Life Cycle Assessment
You can also view green purchasing webinars and events offered by these organizations:
- Responsible Purchasing Network
- Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council
- West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum
- U.S. General Services Administration
Reliable standards and certification programs
State agencies and local governments rely on robust standards and certification programs to help them establish human health, environmental, and social criteria by which products and services can be evaluated and certified. By referencing a specific certification in bid documents, purchasers can easily incorporate green criteria into a contract. Reliable standards and certification programs are designed to:
- Incorporate product life cycle stages from raw materials to end-of-life.
- Require on-site testing and verification by an independent laboratory or certifying group.
- Incorporate performance and safety standards that the product must meet or exceed.
- Be independent of ties to product manufacturers.
- Use a broad-based stakeholder consensus process (typically involving manufacturers, users, government, non-governmental organizations, and academia) to develop standards.
- Provide information on their organizational structure, funding, and standards development process.
- Periodically review and update standards to stay current with new technology and emerging information about human health, environmental, and social impacts of products.
Standards and Certification Organizations
- Ecologo Program
- Energy Star
- Environmentally Preferable Electronics Assessment Tool (EPEAT)
- Forest Stewardship Council
- GREENGUARD Environmental Institute
- Green Seal
- Safer Choice
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG)
- U.S. Green Building Council
- USDA Organic Standards Certification