Green Purchasing Guidelines

The University of Delaware has a history of purchasing energy efficient products and services; identifying innovative ways to minimize waste in contracts, and contributing to the development of environmentally-friendly products through research. This policy formally affirms the University's commitment to reducing its environmental impact through its purchasing decisions while remaining fiscally responsible.

The goal of these guidelines is to increase purchasing and reporting of environmental-preferable products (EPP) and services at the University of Delaware by encouraging purchasing decisions that balance traditional purchasing considerations of performance, price, availability and requirements of the end user with environmental considerations such as energy-efficiency, durability, ease of disposal, level of toxicity and minimal packaging. The intended audience for these guidelines is University faculty, staff and students responsible for purchasing products and services for University use.

While these guidelines encourage changes in individual decision-making across the campus community, the University is providing administrative support by engaging major vendors and suppliers on EPP and by creating Blue Hen Market, a web-based buying tool that enables the campus purchasing community to quickly identify and purchase environmentally preferable products.

Environmentally Preferable Products are defined by the U.S. Government under Executive Order 12873 as: products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, or disposal of the product or service.

The following guidelines should be applied when completing purchasing decisions:

I: Incorporate environmental considerations into purchasing decisions

Include environmental considerations along with traditional criteria in the purchasing decision-making process. Identify and evaluate products and services which have environmentally-friendly attributes. Examples of these attributes are: high post-consumer content, recyclable, non-toxic, minimal packaging, energy and resource efficient, durable and/or repairable.

II: Identify environmentally-friendly manufacturers and service providers

Identify organizations that offer environmentally-preferable products or services. Examples are manufacturers who offer products with the attributes mentioned above or who offer end-of-life recycling programs commonly-known as "product take-backs." Give preference to manufacturers and service providers who offer these products or services when traditional purchasing criteria align.

Agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as other organizations certify and list the performance of environmentally-friendly products. These organizations include GreenSeal, Electronic Product Environment Assessment Tool, (EPEAT) and the Energy Star Program and can be used to identify environmentally-friendly products and services.

III: Apply "life-cycle" analysis

For University purposes, life-cycle analysis means, where applicable, consider environmental impacts and the associated costs of a product or service over its lifetime. Applying life-cycle thinking to purchasing decisions asks the question: What are the environmental impacts of a particular product from production to disposal? This involves considering the environmental impacts during manufacturing, transportation, use and disposal of a product or service.

Through appropriately applying life-cycle analysis in product and service selection individuals can minimize waste, reduce energy consumption and costs, and lower pollution. For example, one form of life cycle analysis involves comparing cost savings of products with lower maintenance and energy costs over their lifespan.

IV: Emphasize importance of EP

Communicate the importance of offering environmentally-friendly products and services to product manufacturers and service providers. Engaging suppliers and manufacturers on this issue will work to expand the availability of “green” products and services.

V: Increase Purchases of EPP

Give preference to products and services of comparable value and performance, but are determined to possess environmentally preferable qualities mentioned above.