Buying Green: Everyone's Doing It

Colleges and universities are focused on greening all aspects of campus operations, including within purchasing and procurement offices. Green purchasing, also known as environmentally responsible supply-chain management or environmentally preferable purchasing, is the result of choosing environmentally friendly products and services. Developing green purchasing initiatives can improve an institution’s bottom line by cutting costs, as well as enhance its image.

AASHE (the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) provides a number of resources for sustainable campus purchasing on its website at In addition to AASHE’s resources, following is just a very small sample of college and university green purchasing programs underway; details sourced from the institutions’ websites.

Haverford College, Haverford, PA
Haverford College has a deep concern and respect for all communities of which it is a part, both social and ecological. As part of the Sustainable Campus Operations section of the college’s website, a section on its green purchasing policy exhibits Haverford’s commitment to environmental stewardship. This environmental purchasing policy has been set up to provide guidance in the purchasing of products and services that meet the environmental goals of Haverford College.

Pomona College, Pomona, CA
Pomona College approved an environmental purchasing policy as part of its 2011 Sustainability Action Plan. When making purchasing decisions, this means considering alternative practices, items and services that reduce environmental impact in production, transport, use and disposal. All college personnel who make purchasing decisions are expected to support and follow this policy to the extent that these recommendations are practical and/or economically feasible.

The Rockefeller University, New York, NY
The Rockefeller University Purchasing Department is committed to and supports environmentally sound procurement practices. In addition to providing quality goods and services to support the scientific endeavors of The Rockefeller University, there is also a commitment to the environment through green or sustainable sound procurement practices. The Purchasing Department supports current recycling practices such as toner recycling and the recycling of receiving and shipping materials. Purchasing continues to aggressively negotiate pricing of commodities that are energy efficient and environmentally responsible. As part of this initiative, the University Stockroom offers many items that are made from recycled materials.

George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
George Mason University is committed to green purchasing. The university purchases and utilizes green cleaning supplies; has a preference to procure from historically underutilized businesses and local Virginia producers; acquire copy paper with a 30 percent post-consumer recycled content or sustainably harvested with the Forest Stewardship Council’s standards; buy appliances and electronics that meet ENERGY STAR and EPEAT standards; acquire locally grown, organic and Fair Trade foods whenever possible; and support fair labor practices… as a few examples of its green purchasing.

University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL
The University of West Florida (UWF) is committed to leadership in the area of environmental stewardship and preserving the environment. UWF is continuously looking for Green-Minded vendors and individuals to help further the university’s environmental awareness message and support its commitment to responsible environmental actions and practices.

University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
The University of San Francisco (USF) does not mandate a university-wide Sustainable Procurement Policy. However, Purchasing Services is committed to forming alliances with companies who embrace and promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Every effort is made to partner with manufacturers and suppliers who have Product Stewardship policies and implement Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs which include reducing and using reclaimed packaging material (flat-packing), implementing product buy/take-back programs, and developing cradle-to-cradle (C2C) solutions for products they produce.

University of Missouri–Kansas City, Kansas City, MO
The University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC), in collaboration with the Sustainability Leadership from all four UM campuses and UM Purchasing, has put together a brochure to help individuals make green purchases. The “Sustainable Office Shopping in the UM System” brochure highlights best practices, identifying logos that make sustainable purchasing easier, and answers some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). In addition UMKC is working with vendor relations to engage vendors in a number of other green initiatives.

Lehman College, Bronx, NY
Lehman College uses a paperless, electronic procurement system for each step of the purchasing process; purchases only green cleaning products for Buildings & Grounds activities — which has removed entire classes of hazardous materials from cleaning products used at the college; purchases products made from post-consumer materials wherever possible; uses only recycled content paper at Lehman’s Copy Center and in many departments, and encourages duplex (double-sided) printing wherever possible; and encourages researchers to purchase the smallest amounts of chemicals needed for their research, which cuts down on disposal costs and decreases chemical hazards on campus. ENERGY STAR electrical appliances, which have significantly lower energy requirements, are purchased wherever possible.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .