Federal officials and government purchasing experts showed off tools and resources to help make federal procurement and acquisitions more sustainable and energy efficient.
Federal officials and acquisition experts convened on Thursday to share new ways and best practices for creating sustainable government information technology contracts and acquisitions, with innovative tools designed by the public and private sectors.
The General Services Administration and other agencies have launched a vast range of initiatives in recent years to go green when it comes to federal purchasing for IT and other technology products. Several of those efforts were highlighted at the agency’s data center sustainability summit this week, including online tools which increasingly provide purchasers with information on energy efficiency and examples of language for new, more sustainable contracts.
As the White House has continued to push for federal contracting sustainability, GSA continues to launch new ways of cataloging products to enhance the user experience and to provide increased information on sustainability and energy efficiency, according to Paul Morris, IT hardware category manager for the GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.
Morris pointed to platforms like the GSA's Advantage, a digital library of the latest GSA contract award information, which now allows users to search for products and see whether any ecolabels have been assigned. GSA Advantage also features a recently-added environmental aisle, providing the ability to filter products based on specific ecolabels.
Cate Berard, acting supervisor for federal engagement of energy and water resilience and security at the Department of Energy, recommended purchasers to explore Acquisition Gateway. Managed by the agency's digital innovation division, the government-wide portal allows agencies to review active contracts available for their use and features green checkmarks which indicate whether they have met certain sustainability requirements.
The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is another example of a tool that has come in handy for government purchasers seeking off-the-shelf energy-efficient products and solutions.
EPEAT is a “comprehensive set of environmental and social performance requirements” based on science and data which focuses on “priority impact areas over a product’s life cycle,” according to Ben Levin, senior manager of technology assessment and resource development for the non-profit Global Electronics Council (GEC).
Berard also recommended purchasers specifically tasked with supplying products to data centers review the Energy Department-sponsored website for the Center of Expertise for Energy Efficiency in Data Centers, which features best practices for purchasing and managing sustainable IT products in nationwide data centers.
The data center website includes examples of acquisition language which purchasers can copy and incorporate into their own agreements with federal contractors, simplifying the process for establishing new sustainability requirements.
“This language is designed to be dropped into procurement language that exists so you can reference the appropriate [Federal Acquisition Regulation] clause,” said Ryan Fogle, Energy Star Data Center product development and marketing manager for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Fogle said the language was designed “not to be just for IT products, but really any product that has an energy star designation associated with it.”