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Buying Green

This information will assist departmental purchasers with environmentally preferable procurement (EPP).

We encourage you to make an impact on your department and the environment by recommending and selecting energy efficient and EPP items for your students, faculty, and staff.

Before making a purchase, consider the 5 "R"s:

  • Reduce: buy only those things truly necessary
  • Reuse: look for existing items that will fill the need
  • Buy Recycled:  look for products made with recycled materials
  • Resources: minimize resource use by consolidating orders
  • Recycle: make your unused items available for others

The University of California and UC Davis are committed to sustainability: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.


What is EPP?

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) is an important step toward making sustainability a reality at UC Davis. EPP is a strategy that seeks to procure products and services with a reduced or minimal environmental impact as compared to other similar products/services that serve the same purpose. Products/services can include attributes such as: recycled content, reduced energy consumption, reduced toxicity, reduced air and water pollution impact, materials efficiency (such as packaging), and disposal impact at the end of useful life.

It is important to consider the overall cost of each purchase. A product that lasts only half as long as one that is slightly more expensive is no bargain. Similarly, a product that negatively affects other resources of the organization when it is used must be closely scrutinized for its net contribution to the organization's goals.


How Can I Practice EPP?

Ask Questions – before making a purchase, think about how the proposed item will be used and its long-term effects on our environment. Ask yourself:

  • Is the purchase truly necessary?
  • Are there existing items within the department that can meet the need?
  • Is this a long-term need? Or will renting/borrowing fulfill a temporary need?
  • Is it an item that has to be new?

Make Use of Existing Resources

In some cases, another department may have a similar item that can be shared. Making maximum use of equipment already available on campus saves money and saves resources that would be needed to manufacture and ship the item. The Asset Lookup screen, accessible from the KFS Main Menu in the Capital Asset Management section, can be used to search for like items on campus, using the Asset Description, Manufacturer, and Model Number fields.

Buy Local

Buying goods locally reduces emissions associated with the transport of the item(s), and sometimes even waste from packaging materials. It also contributes to the local economy, which is good for all of us.

Buy Surplus

The goal of AggieSurplus is to recirculate equipment, furniture, and supplies no longer needed by departments. Items at AggieSurplus are generally available at a much lower cost than purchasing brand new. In addition to saving you money, purchasing from AggieSurplus keeps items out of local landfills.

Choose Recycled Products

A good way to purchase for a sustainable future is to choose items that have a high-level of recycled content. These resources can help:

  • AggieBuy: There are product search filters that can help you easily locate sustainable goods in AggieBuy.
    AggieBuy also features biodegradable utensils/plates/napkins for hosting a "Zero-Waste Event."  
  • Recycled-Content Product Directory: This State of California resource lists vendors who sell recycled products as well as products containing recycled materials.

Tools for Finding Environmentally Preferable Items

When you receive a request for a purchase, use these sites to help you find an environmentally friendly option:

  • Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT): EPEAT is a product registry that assists purchasers in evaluating, comparing, and selecting desktop computers, laptops, and monitors based on 28 environmental performance criteria. Registered products are rated Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Dell (a current UC Strategic Sourcing Vendor) offers several computers rated in the EPEAT Gold category.
  • Energy Star: This program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) aims to reduce energy usage by identifying products that meet specific standards for energy efficiency and features.
  • Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Database: This EPA resource includes information on environmentally-preferable vendors and products; it also includes contract language and policies developed by local, state, and federal governments, which can assist with federally-funded purchases.
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international certification system that recognizes the highest levels of environmentally and socially responsible forest management. Their certification can be found on a range of wood-based products. OfficeMax (a current UC Strategic Sourcing Vendor) offers FSC certified paper products.
  • Green Seal: This non-profit organization uses scientific criteria to choose environmentally preferable options from a wide range of consumer products, which are then identified with the Green Seal logo.
  • Scientific Certification Systems (SCS): SCS provides third-party certification of environmental performance and quality standards for many different manufacturing industries.

Complete the Cycle

Maybe you're not in the market for something new, but you have some unused items lying around. Help other departments meet their EPP goals by sending your surplus items through the AggieSurplus. Complete the AggieSurplus Service Request to properly dispose of surplus items. For more on this process, see the AggieSurplus website. AggieSurplus is an important partner in the campus goal of zero waste by 2020.