New Executive Order on Federal Sustainability Promotes Responsible Government Procurement Policies

In March,globe_measuring_tape President Obama issued Executive Order 13693, “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade.” It replaces and updates a number of Executive Orders and Memorandums, most notably replacing Executive Order 3514, “Federal Leadership In Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance,” issued by President Obama in 2009.

The new Order provides federal agencies with a series of targets and deadlines through 2025, including requiring federal agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2025.

This Order has specific relevance to corporations who are already providing or in a position to provide goods and services to federal agencies. The Order expands upon existing green purchasing requirements and is part of broader efforts, such as the EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program, to use the federal government’s buying power to stimulate demand for sustainable products.

The Order outlines that agencies are to promote sustainable acquisition and procurement by ensuring they are meeting statutory mandates that require purchase preference for the following:

  • Recycled content products designated by EPA;
  • Energy and water efficient products and services, such as ENERGY STAR qualified and Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)-designated products, identified by EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE); and
  • BioPreferred and biobased designated products designated by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Agencies are to set annual targets for the number of contracts to be awarded with BioPreferred and biobased products until the agency achieves at least 95 percent compliance with the BioPreferred and Biobased purchasing requirement.

Agencies are also to purchase sustainable products and services as identified by EPA programs including:

  • Significant New Alternative Policy (SNAP) chemicals or other alternatives to ozone-depleting substances and high global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons, where feasible, as identified by SNAP;
  • WaterSense certified products and services (water efficient products)
  • Safer Choice labeled products (chemically intensive products that contain safer ingredients); and
  • Smart Way Transport partners and SmartWay Products (fuel efficient products and services).

The Executive Order contains guidance on sustainable procurement in other areas such as purchasing paper containing at least 30 percent postconsumer recycled content and ensuring agencies have a procurement preference for environmentally sustainable electronic products. Other focuses on sustainability contained in the Order include improving water use efficiency and management, improving agency fleet and vehicle efficiency and management, and promoting energy efficiency in agency buildings through new building design, among other efforts.

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