EPA proposes new guidelines for greener federal purchases

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing draft guidelines that will help the federal government buy greener and safer products.  In response to broad stakeholder interest, EPA is seeking public input on these draft guidelines and a potential approach to assessing non-governmental environmental standards and ecolabels already in the marketplace.

“As the largest purchaser in the world, the U.S. government is working to reduce its environmental footprint,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The government buys everything from furniture to lighting to cleaning products. These guidelines will make it easier for federal purchasers to meet the existing goal of 95 percent sustainable purchases while spurring consumers and the private sector to use and demand safer and greener products.”

The draft guidelines were developed by EPA, the General Services Administration, and others following several listening sessions with a wide range of stakeholders on how the federal government can be more sustainable in its purchasing and how it can best meet the numerous Federal requirements for the procurement of sustainable and environmentally preferable products and services. The draft guidelines were designed to assist federal purchasing decision makers in more consistently using existing non-governmental product environmental performance standards and ecolabels.

The draft guidelines address key characteristics of environmental standards and ecolabels, including the credibility of the development process and the effectiveness of the criteria for environmental performance. The draft guidelines were developed to be flexible enough to be applied to standards and ecolabels in a broad range of product categories.

For more information on the draft guidelines visit:  http://www.epa.gov/epp/draftGuidelines

For more information, read the Federal Register Prepublication Notice (PDF) and the EPA’s press release.

GSA issues recommendation for ‘green’ building certification

U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has issued a recommendation on the federal government’s use of third-party green building certification systems.  GSA is required by law to issue a recommendation to the Department of Energy (DOE) on how the federal government can best use certification systems to measure the design and performance of the federal government’s construction and major renovation projects.

“GSA has opened this review to an extensive public process, and we’ve made this recommendation using input from the public, industry stakeholders, and sustainability experts,” said Kevin Kampschroer, Director of GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, on Oct. 25, 2013. “We’ve found two tools that allow us to measure how federal buildings of all kinds can best save energy, improve overall performance, and cut down utility costs.”

In its recommendation to DOE, GSA recommended the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes 2010 and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2009 as the third-party certification systems that the federal government can use to gauge performance in its construction and renovation projects. Other certification systems were not selected because they did not align with the government’s requirements. Additionally, under today’s recommendation, GSA will conduct more regular reviews in order to keep up with the latest green building tools that the market has to offer.

Third party certification systems like LEED and Green Globes help in measuring reduction targets for water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions against industry standards. Agencies can use one of the two certification systems that best meet their building portfolios, which range from office buildings, to laboratories, to hospitals, to airplane hangars.

Federal construction and modernization projects must adhere to the government’s own green building requirements by law and executive orders. No one certification system meets all of the federal government’s green building requirements. Green building certification systems are just one tool that GSA uses to cut costs and meet sustainability and economic performance goals.

GSA has worked to make federal buildings more efficient by reducing water and energy use, which saves taxpayer dollars and reduces the impact on the environment.  GSA’s efforts to increase sustainability are a central part of its mission to deliver the best value in real estate to the government and the American people.

Interim rule updates FAR with sustainability executive orders

Two executive orders that increase the role of sustainability in federal procurement officially became part of the Federal Acquisition Regulation May 31 with publication in the Federal Register of an interim rule that’s effective immediately.

The rule incorporates E.O 13514, signed by President Barack Obama in 2009, and E.O. 13423, signed by President George W. Bush in January 2007. The first order requires federal agencies to ensure that 95 percent of new contracts, including indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity task or delivery orders, are energy and water efficient, biobased, environmentally preferable, don’t have ozone-depleting chemicals, contain recycled content and are non-toxic or less toxic than the alternatives. The order does not affect weapons systems. The interim rule establishes a new subpart in Part 23 of the FAR, part 23.1–sustainable acquisition policy–to implement it.

The second order requires agencies to conduct environmental, transportation and energy-related activities to be conducted in a sustainable manner. Most of the changes to the FAR as a result of it occur primarily in Part 52, which is where the contractual clauses are kept. In particular, the interim rule adds a new clause, 52.223-19, which requires contractors to conform to the environmental management systems in federal agencies.

The interim rule will not have a significant economic impact since a majority of the requirements from both executive orders have already been implemented, the Federal Register notifications states.

— by dperera – Fierce Government – June 7, 2011 – 11:16am at http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/interim-rule-updates-far-sustainability-executive-orders/2011-06-07

For more:
download the interim rule (.pdf)

Agencies told to go green on 95 percent of purchasing

The Obama administration’s campaign to have agencies “lead by example” in sustainable purchasing became stricter this week when the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council released an interim rule on green procurement.
Following up on President Obama’s 2009 executive order on green management, the draft published Tuesday in the Federal Register would require agencies “to leverage agency acquisitions to foster markets for sustainable technologies, materials, products and services.”
It tasks the head of each agency with ensuring that 95 percent of new contract actions are for products and services that are energy efficient, water efficient, bio-based, environmentally preferable or non-ozone depleting, adhering to criteria set out by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department. With the exception of weapons systems, agencies also must aim to procure items that contain recycled content and are nontoxic.
The toughened policy is being spearheaded by the Defense Department, NASA and the General Services Administration. It requires all federal contractors to support the government’s goals in environmental management, and includes new requirements for electronic or other paper-saving methods for submitting documents required by contracts.
“In the face of changing environmental circumstances and our nation’s heightened energy demands, the federal government must lead by example to create
a clean-energy economy that will increase prosperity, promote energy security, protect the interests of taxpayers and safeguard the health of our environment,” the rule states.

Agencies have until Aug. 1 to submit comment.

– by Charles S. Clark – Government Executive – June 1, 2011 – http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=47921&dcn=e_gvet