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GSA helps federal agencies meet sustainability and climate adaptation goals

| By Mark Lee, Assistant Commissioner, GSA FAS Office of Policy and Compliance
Post filed in: Green

Since taking office in January 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration has made addressing the climate crisis one of its top priorities. Of special interest to those of us in GSA's Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) is the work being done to revitalize the federal government's sustainability efforts. Several recent executive orders (E.O.s), including E.O. 14030 Climate-Related Financial Risk, require agencies to leverage the purchasing power of the federal government to drive innovation and prioritize action on climate change in the policy-making and procurement processes. GSA, of course, plays a critical role in this call to action.

GSA offers resources and acquisition solutions that help the federal acquisition workforce consider sustainability and climate risk across all phases of the acquisition life cycle.

Acquisition Planning

Make the GSA Sustainable Facilities Tool (SFTool) your first stop for information on greening the procurement process, conserving resources and reducing operating costs:

  • The Green Procurement Compilation (GPC) makes it easier to identify applicable green purchasing requirements for products and services by consolidating information from federal environmental programs in one place. It includes purchasing options, sample contract language and additional guidance.
  • The Framework for Managing Climate Risks to Federal Agency Supply Chains provides guidance to help you assess observed and expected climate or weather-related risks (e.g., extreme heat waves, tropical storms and hurricanes, wildfires, etc.) to supply chains and develop plans to minimize those risks.

If you need more hands-on assistance, our Market Research As a Service (MRAS) utilizes the latest research techniques to help customer agencies visualize the competition and socioeconomic responses that customers can expect if they use GSA's acquisition vehicles. Through online survey research, they can also assist in developing your strategy to effectively engage the marketplace.

Purchasing Solutions

GSA has an unrivaled capability to deliver comprehensive products and services across government at the best value possible. Our wide range of contract vehicles and solutions will help you comply with sustainable acquisition requirements:

  • GSA's industry leading solutions meet or exceed federal sustainability requirements. GSA has many product and service categories including: Facilities and Construction, Industrial Products and Services, Travel and Transportation, Vehicle Purchasing, Vehicle Leasing, and IT and Telecommunications.
  • GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) offers sustainable products, including Energy StarⓇ, WaterSenseⓇ and Safer Choice compliant items. You can also purchase environmental services and facilities maintenance, management and repair services that can support meeting agency sustainability requirements and goals.
  • GSA also offers agencies fuel-efficient vehicles that provide environmental benefits and save taxpayers money. Ordering agencies can use GSA Fleet to acquire Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) and other Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs) that meet federal sustainability requirements. Agencies can buy these vehicles from GSA AutoChoice, lease them from GSA Fleet or use GSA Schedule contracts to lease automobiles and light trucks directly from schedule contractors. GSA also has a Short Term Rental program for a variety of vehicles.

GSA has also applied innovative acquisition strategies that align closely with the procurement concepts outlined in E.O.14030:

  • Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), a $50 billion governmentwide telecommunications contract, requires service providers to submit climate change risk management plans. Providers must also implement basic preventative measures, such as placing telecommunications equipment on rolling carts so they can be quickly moved in the event of impending extreme weather.
  • GSA required vendors on the Alliant 2 governmentwide IT solutions contract to submit Sustainable Practices and Impact Disclosures outlining how they measured and reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with the services provided. Alliant 2 sustainability requirements have become more rigorous as the period of performance progresses. This approach demonstrates the effectiveness of working directly with contractors awarded large governmentwide acquisition contract vehicles to reduce emissions.

Be sure to visit the GSA Advantage Environmental Program Aisle, where you can search and purchase thousands of individual green products available through MAS, GSA Global Supply®, BIC solutions, Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Blanket Purchase Agreements and more.

Reducing Waste

Finally, GSA offers a variety of property management programs that allow agencies to maximize the lifespan of products and reduce waste:

  • GSAXcess® lets agencies electronically report excess personal property to GSA. Customers seeking property can avoid the cost of new procurements by acquiring the same or like items reported as excess by another federal activity. GSAXcess is available to federal agencies, authorized non-federal recipients and surplus customers.
  • The Computers For Learning (CFL) program allows schools and educational nonprofit organizations to obtain excess computer equipment from federal agencies.
  • GSA Auctions℠ is an electronic solution for web auctions of surplus, forfeited and exchange/sale of federal personal property.

Looking Ahead

As the premier provider of efficient and effective acquisition solutions across the federal government, GSA has the opportunity - and responsibility - to leverage the procurement process to combat the climate crisis. We must also provide agencies with access to supply chains that are resilient and adaptive to actual changes in climate. Over the past few months, we have been working tirelessly to develop strategic plans that will set our sustainability and climate adaptation priorities for the next several years. For GSA, this will include:

  • Advancing climate literacy within GSA's acquisition workforce, our customer agencies and our industry partners.
  • Leveraging new resources, such as the Verified Products Portal (VPP), to improve the accuracy of sustainable product designations on GSA platforms.
  • Exploring opportunities within GSA's e-Marketplace and its commercial platform providers to enhance sustainable product designations and offerings.
  • Applying the governmentwide category management approach to identify sustainability and climate-related opportunities at the individual category level.
  • Continuing to apply innovative acquisition strategies that advance public policy objectives.