Green IT specs now required

Going green is not only the right thing to do; it is what agencies must do. Two recent policy actions formalize a requirement that agencies must buy environmentally friendly technology products and look for opportunities internally to expand their environmental and energy-saving efforts.

Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council members agreed to change the Federal Acquisition Regulation to require use of the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool when acquiring PC products. EPEAT is a set of performance criteria developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers to help purchasers compare and select computer products based on their environmental attributes.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy published a proposed policy letter that outlines agency responsibilities for acquiring green products and services, including information technology. The companion actions establish steps that agencies must take to implement President Bush’s environmental executive order issued Jan. 26, 2007.

“Keeping America competitive requires innovation,” said OFPP Administrator Paul Denett. “Procurement of sustainable green products and services will make the federal government a leader in using new, innovative, greener and cleaner products and services that are better for our environment.”

Industry has observed increased interest in green products among agencies. When green products are mandatory, agencies will buy them, said Jim Russell, Symantec’s public sector vice president. Both policy actions were published in the Federal Register — the FAR amendment on Dec. 26 and the OFPP-proposed policy letter on Dec. 28. The FAR amendment is effective now, but it could be revised after a comment period. The policy letter will take effect after a comment period. Comments are due Feb. 25 for the FAR amendment and Feb. 26 for the proposed policy letter.

The proposed policy letter contains a requirement for agencies to purchase EPEAT electronics, but it is much broader than the FAR amendment. It covers procurement beyond electronics and requires agencies to modernize policy, said an OMB official who requested anonymity.

“This policy letter is an attempt to consolidate and capture in one place all of the acquisition-related sustainability requirements for procurement personnel,” the official said. The proposed letter asks agencies to identify opportunities and give preference to green products and services.

Agencies will first consider mandatory and preferred sources to obtain green products and services that meet their performance needs. When environmental and energy-saving products are not designated, agencies should automatically substitute green products and services in place of others, Denett said in the proposed policy letter.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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