Environmental programs help buyers identify products and services with positive environmental attributes. Many federal environmental programs, such as ENERGY STAR and BioPreferred, are mandatory for federal buyers. The Green Procurement Compilation consolidates information on these programs in one location, including applicable products, sample contract language, relevant legal requirements, and more. In addition, federal buyers may -- and, in some cases, are required to -- use non-federal (i.e., third party) standards and labels to identify and purchase sustainable products and services. A brief description of both federal and third party programs can be found below.
FEMP also provides a set of tools designed to be a standardized, interoperable system of tools to help make sense of all data publicly available on commercial buildings, from the Building Performance Database to the Technology Performance Exchange.
Learn More About These Programs Below
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages the BioPreferred program. BioPreferred includes both a preferential procurement program for Federal agencies and their contractors and a voluntary labeling program for the broad scale consumer. Under the Federal procurement preference program, USDA designates categories of biobased products (e.g., glass cleaners). Federal agencies and their contractors are then required to give preferential consideration to biobased products in the designated BioPreferred product categories when making purchases. As a part of the designation process, USDA establishes the minimum biobased content for the category. The technical, health, and environmental characteristics of these products are also considered.
Buying BioPreferred products? View sample solicitation/contract language.
Visit Program Site: BioPreferred
Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG) Program
Under the Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designates products that are or can be made with recovered materials, and recommends practices for buying these products. Once a product is designated, procuring federal agencies are required to purchase it with the highest recovered material content level practicable. Buying recycled content products helps to ensure that the materials collected in home and office recycling programs will be used again in the manufacturing of new products.
Buying CPG products? View sample solicitation/contract language.
Visit Program Site: EPA CPG
Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)
EPEAT® is a comprehensive environmental rating system that makes it easy for purchasers to select environmentally preferable electronic products, and, in doing so, reward manufacturers for their environmental design efforts and create environmental benefits. Under the EPEAT system, products are measured against both required and optional criteria that cover the full life cycle of electronic products. A product must meet all of the required criteria in its category to be added to the registry. It is then rated Bronze, Silver or Gold depending on how many of the optional criteria it meets. EPEAT is staffed and managed by the Green Electronics Council (GEC), a program of the International Sustainable Development Foundation (ISDF). Federal agencies must ensure that they meet at least 95 percent of their annual acquisition requirement for electronic products with EPEAT-registered electronic products, unless there is no EPEAT standard for such products.
Buying EPEAT products? View sample solicitation/contract language.
Visit Program Site: EPEAT
ENERGY STAR Products
ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The ENERGY STAR label helps consumers identify energy efficient products and practices in over 60 product categories for the home and office. Products earn the ENERGY STAR label by meeting the energy efficiency requirements set forth in ENERGY STAR product specifications. These products deliver the same or better performance as comparable models while using less energy and saving money. Federal agencies are required by law to purchase Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)-designated or ENERGY STAR-qualified products.
Buying ENERGY STAR products? View sample solicitation/contract language.
Visit Program Site: ENERGY STAR
Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) sets minimum energy efficiency requirements for product categories that have the potential to generate significant Federal energy savings. FEMP does not purchase, recognize, endorse, or otherwise identify specific energy-efficient products for Federal procurement. Instead, FEMP identifies energy efficiency requirements for a category of products, which is typically an energy consumption level within the upper 25% of the product category. Products that meet FEMP-designated efficiency requirements are in the upper 25% of their class in energy efficiency and may be assumed to be life cycle cost effective. Federal agencies are required by law to purchase FEMP-designated or ENERGY STAR-qualified products. FEMP also maintains a list of products that meet FEMP-designated standby power requirements.
Buying FEMP products? View sample solicitation/contract language.
Visit Program Site: FEMP
Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) Low-Standby Power
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) maintains a list of products that meet FEMP-designated standby power requirements. These are electronic products that consume electricity even when they appear to be turned off. For many product categories, the ENERGY STAR program considers standby energy use. However, for certain product categories identified by FEMP, Federal buyers must ensure that purchases meet both ENERGY STAR and low standby power requirements. Electronic products not listed by FEMP must meet a standby power level of 1 watt or less unless such a product is not available or is not cost effective in the intended application. In that case, the buyer should seek a product with the lowest standby power level available.
Visit Program Site: FEMP Low-Standby Power
EPA's new Safer Choice label (formerly Design for the Environment) helps consumers and commercial buyers identify and select products with safer chemical ingredients, without sacrificing quality or performance. When you see the Safer Choice label on a product, it means that every ingredient in the product has been evaluated by EPA scientists against stringent health and safety standards. Look for the label on a variety of chemical-based products, such as all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents, and carpet and floor care products.
Buying Safer Choice products? View sample solicitation/contract language.
Visit Program Site: Safer Choice
Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP)
The Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA's) program to evaluate and regulate substitutes for the ozone-depleting chemicals that are being phased out under the stratospheric ozone protection provisions of the Clean Air Act. Under the SNAP Program, EPA publishes a list of acceptable and unacceptable substitutes for ozone-depleting substances based on a specific product end-use. Substitutes are reviewed on the basis of ozone depletion potential, flammability, toxicity, occupational health and safety, as well as contributions to global warming and other environmental factors. Acceptable substitutes have been determined to reduce overall risk to human health and the environment. The SNAP Program does not endorse specific products manufactured by specific companies.
Visit Program Site: SNAP
EPA's SmartWay is a market-driven partnership to help businesses move goods more cleanly and efficiently. Freight providers use EPA-verified strategies and technologies to cut fuel costs and emissions. Government agencies, retailers, manufacturers, and others use SmartWay performance metrics to identify and select carriers and modes, then incorporate this information into their carbon accounting and sustainability plans. By providing a consistent set of tools and information needed to make informed transportation choices, SmartWay enables companies across the supply chain to exchange performance data in ways that protect the environment, enhance our nation's energy security, and foster economic vitality. To encourage continued improvement, SmartWay provides incentives and recognition for top performers. Since 2004, SmartWay partners have eliminated 28 million metric tons of CO2, saved 65 million barrels of oil, and saved $8.1 billion in fuel costs.
Visit Program Site: SmartWay
Substances of Concern
Substances of Concern (SoC) are chemicals or substances utilized in products that the National Institute of Health (NIH) has determined to emit toxic, hazardous, polluting or unsustainable substances during the product life cycle and disposal. The NIH determines chemicals or substances to be SoC if they fall within three main criteria: have significant use in facilities of mission activities, pose significant risk, and suitable alternatives are available. NIH currently maintains a database of current SoCs.
Visit Program Site: NIH SoC
Third Party Standards and Ecolabels
Third party (i.e. non-federal) standards and ecolabels are those that are not created or managed by the Federal Government. EPA is responsible for providing recommendations to Federal agencies on the use of specifications, standards, and ecolabels for purchasing environmentally preferable products and services. EPA has released a set of recommendations spanning multiple product categories, which are available in the Green Procurement Compilation. EPA expects to refine these over time as it assesses standards and ecolabels in different product categories against its Guidelines for the Assessment of Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Federal Procurement. Agencies may use other open and voluntary standards in a procurement, consistent with the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (NTTAA), OMB Circular A-119, and Section II of EPA’s Guidelines.
Visit Program Site: EPA Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels
WaterSense, a partnership program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seeks to help consumers make smart water choices that save money and maintain high environmental standards without compromising performance. Independent, third-party licensed certifying bodies certify that products meet EPA criteria for water-efficiency and performance by following testing and certification protocols specific to each product category. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20% more efficient without sacrificing performance.
Buying WaterSense products? View sample solicitation/contract language.
Visit Program Site: WaterSense
Did You Know?
Plug loads can average approximately 30% of electricity use in office settings, much of which can be attributed to parasitic loads (power draw of a plug-load that is not performing useful work). Source: Office Plug Load Field Monitoring Report; Moorefield, L., et al. (2008). Portland, OR, Ecos: 74. Reduce your plug load costs with SFTool
The Importance of Daylight
While many people prefer to be in spaces with abundant daylight, a critical question is to what extent the benefits of daylight matter to those who spend the majority of their time indoors, particularly in an office setting.