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Key Objective: 6.1 Develop and apply environmental purchasing standards

The 2015 iCAP, chapter 6, objective 1, is "By FY17, environmental standards will be applied to purchases of office paper, cleaning products, computers, other electronics, and freight/package delivery services. At least 50% of purchases in these categories will meet campus standards by FY20, and 75% by FY25."

Associated Metric

6.1 Percent of Paper Purchased from OfficeMax with Recycled-Content (Tracked by Fiscal Year)

Potential Strategies

Develop Campus Environmental Purchasing Standards

Decisions about the purchasing of many products are handled in a very decentralized fashion on our campus.  The University purchasing process ensures that such purchases meet various federal and state requirements.  However, the process does not effectively apply standards or preferences to select vendors and products having low lifecycle carbon emissions and low embodied energy.

The campus could apply standards for the purchases of certain major categories of products; for example office paper (at least 30% recycled content), cleaning products (Green Seal), computers (EPEAT Silver), other electronics (Energy Star), and freight/package delivery services (EPA SmartWay).  Also, the campus could identify environmental standards applicable to additional major categories of purchases.  Compliance with these environmental standards should be required, or at least given significant weight, in purchasing decisions.  Campus could revise its purchasing systems to curtail purchases of products and services which fail to satisfy selected environmental standards and preferences. 

Track Compliance with Campus Standards

The university purchasing process could be enhanced in order to explicitly track purchases for compliance with campus environmental standards, so that it would be straightforward to measure progress.  For example, the process could track the number of our computer purchases that are EPEAT Silver and which campus units are falling short in applying this standard.    

Utilize Standards from Other Organizations

The campus could also apply sustainable purchasing tools and standards provided by the U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, U. S. EPA, State of Illinois Central Management Services, and other certifying organizations.  It could also utilize and expand purchasing contracts that apply certified environmental standards and preferences, including contracts available for State of Illinois agencies and collectives of universities. 

Promote Sustainable Purchasing

The iSEE Certified Green Office program has been developed to engage campus units and vendors to improve our campus sustainability in many areas, including reducing purchases and their associated emissions.  This program could be expanded to more units, and could also include more types of sustainable purchasing practices.  A similar campaign could also solicit and apply students’ suggestions on reducing paper and other products used in classes and buildings.  The Office of Business and Financial Services and its purchasing divisions could play a key role in an expanded program promoting sustainable purchasing by adopting goals to reduce purchases and to purchase sustainable products.  The campus could also consider applying surcharges to the prices of any non-compliant purchases (through the purchasing system and other mechanisms) to encourage environmentally preferred purchases and recycling.