By Bob Steger, Advance GSA
Executive Order 13514 was signed by President Obama on Oct. 5, 2009, “to establish an integrated strategy towards sustainability in the federal government and to make reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a priority for federal agencies.” This EO did not rescind the requirements of EO 13423, but instead expanded on the energy reduction and environmental performance requirements for federal agencies.
One passage of particular interest to many said the government will “Ensure 95 percent of all new contracts, including non-exempt contract modifications, require products and services that are energy-efficient, water-efficient, biobased, environmentally preferable, non-ozone depleting, contain recycled-content, non-toxic or less-toxic alternatives.”
As a result, 95 percent of new federal contract actions, including task and delivery orders for products and services, are required to meet the Green Product Requirements as long as the products and services can meet the agencies’ performance requirements.
Examples of designations given certain products currently on GSA Schedules are EnergyStar, WaterSense, Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG), BioPreferred, and Designed for the Environment Chemicals.
An EnergyStar designation is awarded by the EPA to electrical products that are in the top 25 percent of electrical efficiency in a given product category. Once 50 percent of all products in the category meet the EnergyStar benchmark, the category is realigned to include only the top 25 percent.
WaterSense, another EPA requirement, specifies that a device must use less water for the same time duration or process. For example, a toilet must be 20 percent more efficient than a traditional toilet to receive the WaterSense rating. A shower head must have a flow rate of less than two gallons per minute (a traditional shower has a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute) in order to receive this rating.
Comprehensive Product Guidelines, or GPG, are requirements set by the government for post-consumer rubber, plastics, paper, wood, biomass, etc., being used in products. For example, a garden hose purchased by the government would be required, in most cases, to contain 60-65 percent recycled rubber and plastic.
The federal government’s BioPreferred program sets minimum requirements for recycled hydrocarbons and biomass in lubricants and other materials such as hydraulic oil and antifreeze.
Designed for the Environment is an EPA designation for chemicals that are biodegradable in a specific time frame while under specific levels of toxicity.
GSA has a green procurement tool to determine applicable sustainability guidelines for products and services. Most products must obtain approval by EPA or USDA. The designated green products are separated into the following 18 categories:
- Building Construction
- Building Finishes
- Building Interiors
- Cafeteria Services
- Cleaning Products
- Contracted Printing Services
- Lubricants, Oils, Hydraulic Fluids and Greases
- Non-Paper Office Products
- Office Electronics
- Paper Office Products
- Park and Recreation
- Refrigeration & AC
- Renewable Energy
- Roadway Construction
- Traffic Control
- Vehicle Products
Going forward, I foresee environmental impacts as order qualifiers for many product categories, and I predict that if products do not meet government guidelines, then other products will be selected.