Green Purchasing

The focus of this page is to aid the Region 8 Sustainability and Environmental Management System (SEMS) program. The GSA Green Purchasing Program began in 2000 and was originally titled the “Affirmative Procurement Program.” Over the past 70 years, traditional acquisition practices have shown to be unsustainable especially in continually shrinking budgets and more stringent disposal rules and regulations. Instead of purchasing materials based upon want, make purchasing decisions based upon needs after considering reuse options from previously existing materials. Current standards require that all new purchases must have a percentage of recycled content material in its manufacture and that purchasers consider materials that have a bio-based component as compared with current petroleum based products.

GSA has many resources to aid in green procurements and acquisitions:

SEMS objectives and targets
Objectives All new applicable contracts, including non-exempt contract modifications, require products and services that are energy-efficient, water-efficient, bio-based, environmentally preferable, non-ozone depleting, contain recycled content, or are non-toxic or less-toxic alternatives.
Monitor green purchases
Establish an integrated strategy towards sustainability in the federal government and to reduce greenhouse gases
Set acquisition-related goals for purchasing green products
Targets 95% of all new applicable contracts, require green products and services

Federal, state, and local policy and regulations

Executive Order (EO) 13693 [PDF], Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade

EO 13693 revokes:

  • EO 13423, Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management; EO 13423 replaced EO 13101, EO 13123, EO 13149 and EO 13221
  • EO 13514 [PDF - 241 KB], Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, summary of EO 13693, acquisitions: For agencies to promote sustainable acquisition and procurement by ensuring that each of the following environmental performance and sustainability factors are included to the maximum extent practicable for all applicable procurements in the planning, award, and execution phases of the acquisition:

  • Purchasing preference for recycle content products designated by EPA.
  • Purchasing preference for 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).
  • Purchasing preference for BioPreferred- and bio-based designated products designated by the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • Purchasing sustainable products and services 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.
    • WaterSense-certified products and services (water efficient products).
    • Safer Choice-labeled products (chemically intensive products that contain safer ingredients).
    • SmartWay transport partners and products (fuel efficient products and services).
  • Purchasing environmentally preferable products or services that meet or exceed specifications, standards, or labels recommended by EPA that have been determined to assist agencies in meeting their needs and further advance sustainable procurement goals of EO 13693; or meet environmental performance criteria developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies consistent with section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (Public Law 104–113) and OMB Circular A–119.
  • Reducing copier and printing paper use and acquiring uncoated printing and writing paper containing at least 30% post-consumer recycled content or higher.

Non-ozone depleting substances gives an overview of the Clean Air Act.

Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 covers alternative fuels.

Farm Security and Rural Investment Act — see Section 9002 regarding federal procurement of biobased products.

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23: Environment, Energy and Water Efficiency, Renewable Energy Technologies, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Application to Federal Facilities — see Section 6002 regarding recycling and procurement.

Additional resources

  • GSA Advantage!®, environmentally preferable products and GSA Global Supply.
  • EPA has published lists of substitutes for ozone-depleting substances in multiple categories, including refrigeration and air conditioning, solvents cleaning, foam blowing, fire suppression and explosion protection, and aerosols.
  • EPA Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines designate recycled content items and recommend purchasing practices for agencies using federal funds; and provide product information, supplier lists and case studies. Contains a wealth of information for construction, landscaping, paperless office, paper, park and recreation, transportation, and miscellaneous products.
  • Access general purchasing information for various products and services at Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Resource.
  • Green Seal provides science-based environmental certification standards that are credible, transparent, and essential in an increasingly educated and competitive marketplace.


File name Date revised
Green Purchasing [PDF - 395 KB] 07/06/2012

For more information, please contact Marion Buntyn at or 303-236-1977.

Last Reviewed: 2022-01-25