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Climate-Friendly Purchasing
Updated May 2013

Sustainability Best Practice Area

Climate-friendly purchasing is the procurement or acquisition of goods and services that are a lesser or reduced source of greenhouse gas emissions when compared with competing goods or services that serve the same purpose.


  • Review current purchasing practices to identify possible green procurement opportunities.
  • Adopt and implement a procurement policy that establishes standards for purchasing climate-friendly products and services. Examples may include:
    • Office and cleaning supplies and equipment that minimize environmental impacts and that do not have a negative effect on human health, such as:
      • Paper products that contain a minimum percentage of post-consumer recycled content.
      • Cleaning products and services recognized with the GreenSeal or EcoLogo.
      • New equipment that meets Energy Star or comparable energy efficiency standards.
      • Computers that meet the highest feasible Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) certification level.
      • Computer and lighting controls that reduce energy and computer idle time.
      • Rechargable batteries, where appropriate.
      • Recyclable or reusable cups, plates and utensils.
    • Green Building materials that create a healthier and more sustainable environment, such as:
      • Building and landscaping materials and systems that exceed the CALGreen building code.
      • Carpeting, furnishings or plastic items that contain a minimum percentage of recycled content.
      • Paint or carpets that contain low or no volatile organic compounds (VOC).
    • Fleets that reduce environmental impact, such as:
      • Fuel efficient, dual fuel or alternative fuel fleet vehicles.
      • Vehicles that have GPS or trip planning devices.
  • Conduct employee awareness training on the purchasing and use of green products and services.
  • Establish an interdepartmental team to promote policy implementation, track policy adherence and suggest additional items to be included in the policy.
  • Report achievements of green procurement program to staff and policy makers annually.
  • Consider participating in multi-agency procurement pools that have a climate-friendly purchasing component.
  • Consider life cycle pricing to ensure that the maintenance, operating, insurance, disposal and replacement cost of the product or service is considered when evaluating purchase options.
  • Consider efficient transportation methods when purchasing goods and services, such as using local vendors and or locally produced goods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Consider encouraging the practice of not purchasing new materials, such as office supplies and furniture, through the reuse of existing items in surplus when appropriate and feasible.
  • Ensure that minimal packaging materials are used by the agency and that all packaging materials are recycled, non-toxic and/or reusable, where feasible.


  • Require consultants, contractors and grantees to use recycled products and supplies, when feasible.
  • Require service providers to follow climate-friendly practices, or include a preference in selecting and contracting with service providers to those that use climate-friendly practices.
  • Require parks maintenance staff or contractors to adopt water or Bay-Friendly practices, if applicable.
  • Require agency-issued bids specifications to exceed state law requirements for recycled content.
  • When feasible, consider the greenhouse gas emission impacts associated with transportation distances when determining which business or service providers to award contract.
  • Provide incentives for the use of fuel-efficient, dual-fuel or alternative fuel vehicles for agency contracts for services involving vehicles, such as buses, waste hauling and recycling, and construction.
  • When issuing proposals for services, request firms to show current green certifications that demonstrate their technical knowledge and commitment to sustainability.


  • Educate the public about climate-friendly procurement opportunities through the agency’s website, traditional marketing and social media.
  • Work with the business community to educate them about climate- friendly procurement opportunities through social media and traditional marketing.
  • Educate the public about climate-friendly procurement actions being implemented by a local agency.
The Institute gratefully acknowledges the following individuals who reviewed this best practice area and offered their comments:
  • Lisa Baker, Executive Director, Yolo County Housing
  • Pat Stoner, Local Government Energy Efficiency Statewide Coordinator, Local Government Commission
  • Tracey Harper, Integrated Waste Management Specialist, CalRecycle

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