3 tips to test a service's environmental friendliness

The key to buying services with the environment in mind is thinking outside the service.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued a memo Oct. 5 that offered three tips for contacting officers to determine whether a service is environmentally friendly.

  • Consider the results or outcomes of the service and whether it might include materials and equipment that are green.
  • Consider the materials, equipment, buildings or items being serviced through the contract that may have an environmental impact.
  • Consider the life cycle impacts, including the manufacturing, operation and maintenance, and the overall characteristics, of the product or service.

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Technology procurements are as subject to those criteria as anything else, although the third one may be the most applicable to many IT buys. The tips are meant to help the government increase the information it has about sustainable and green products and services. OFPP wrote that acquisition officials may find it a more complex task to determine if a service is environmentally friendly than to make the same decisions about products.

In the memo, OFPP highlighted ways to support sound sustainability practices and to provide guidance on new efforts to increase the amount of information available on green products and services.

Officials are revising the Federal Acquisition Regulation to include new requirements on buying with the environment in mind, along with the current requirement to have 95 percent of all applicable new contracts include sustainability provisions.

The Federal Procurement Data System has been changed to gather more information on sustainability purchases. Officials have also updated the Product Service Code manual.

“These changes support a continued focus on promoting sustainable acquisition practices in federal agencies through acquisition planning and execution,” OFPP memo states.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Wed, Oct 12, 2011

The biggest problem with going "green" is that it is more about politics than about reality. A simple rule of thumb not always used, and when used often at the bottom, is total life-cycle costs as a primary factor. In fact, total life-cycle costs should trump just about everything else put together. If something cost you twice as much then it cost about twice as much in total resources to produce (and use, if including that cost). You double your resources to get something then you are most likely about doubling your negative impact. Some people will use smoke and mirrors to distract others from that point because they have some other agenda on hand - or they just do not know what they are talking about. As such, I am always leary of products or services labeled "green". Far too many of these "green" labels are just gimics to take more of your money or to transfer power to others who do not deserve it. When the Government gets involved it is almost always a waste of taxpayer funds and used to transfer control from the people to the Government.

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