Local governments' e-procurement systems may be one of the most significant technological applications to advance green purchasing, says Nicole Darnall, a professor of Management and Public Policy at Arizona State University. “These systems can be adapted to include information on eco-labeled products. They also can assist with tracking the implementation of green purchasing behaviors, which is important to the success of a green purchasing policy,” Darnall (photo below at left) adds. She notes that if a city can measure its green purchasing practices, it is more likely to manage and promote these practices further.

With Donald Trump in the White House, could changes in federal government priorities affect sustainable procurement programs? Darnall says most definitely. She tells Government Procurement that some local governments receive technical assistance from federal agencies to expand their green purchasing policies or embed them more deeply into existing purchasing processes. “Cuts in these funding streams could significantly impair local governments' green procurement efforts, especially initiatives that are more innovative and that otherwise would be too risky or costly to implement on their own.”

Sustainability Resources

There’s no shortage of guides, resources and training programs on sustainable purchasing. NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement (NIGP) is currently working on the development of an introductory level sustainability course. NIGP offers a “Sustainable Procurement Practice” publication here:

The following webinars are available through the NIGP Store. NIGP members can download them for free:
1.  Intro to Sustainable Procurement: Saving Green by Going Green
2.  Sustainable Purchasing: The Strategic Planning Secrets

The National Association of State Procurement Officers (NASPO) has produced an online Green Purchasing guide that includes general and state-specific resources. It offers guidance on how to draft and implement a green purchasing policy, and how to measure and market successes in green purchasing. An interactive map that features green purchasing profiles for states with such programs or activities is available here.

“The Buck Starts Here: Sustainable Procurement Playbook for Cities,” is a resource that was issued last year. The publication is suited for sustainability directors and city teams interested in launching or strengthening sustainable purchasing efforts. It includes analytical tools, best practices, implementation tips, and recommendations to help cities prioritize and then pursue sustainable purchasing opportunities. The Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) was the lead author of the Playbook. A total of 19 cities aided in its development. RPN is an international network of buyers dedicated to socially responsible and environmentally sustainable purchasing. Go to this site for details.

The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) recently launched a sustainable purchasing training program. The program aims to enable organizations, including governments, to develop and manage a strategic sustainable purchasing program on an ongoing basis. Go here for details:

The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and recognize purchasing leadership that accelerates the transition to a prosperous and sustainable future.

Government market data provider Onvia has issued several reports on green purchasing, including one on the expansion of green fleets in government. Go here for details.

Public purchasers in the market for sustainable products can use proprietary data sources to speed the process, says Ben Vaught, director of Onvia Exchange (photo at right). “These buyers can save a significant amount of time in the process to craft a bid or RFP spec by leveraging searchable government purchasing databases, such as the Onvia Exchange, to quickly learn from their peers who have already purchased equivalent solutions.” Onvia Exchange is at this site.

The Urban Sustainability Directors Network offers a variety of tools, says Kansas City’s Dennis Murphey. More than 135 municipal sustainability directors from across the U.S. and Canada belong to the network. The network offers case studies, collaboration, and other technical assistance to promote best practices in sustainable procurement by local governments, Murphey says. Go here to get started.

Arizona State University's Nicole Darnall and co-authors are now researching sustainable procurement trends in state and local government. Go here for details.

Michael Keating (michael.keating@penton.com) is senior editor for American City & County and the GPN web site. He’s written about the government market for USA Today, IndustryWeek, Industry Market Trends and more than 100 other publications.


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