John Andre (JA): Hello, and thank you for joining today's Acquisition Learning Seminar, hosted by the Federal Acquisition Institute. Today's seminar, entitled "It IS Easy Being Green!", features three presenters from the General Services Administration (GSA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). Today, we want to should you just how easy it is being green. Our presenters are here to discuss the laws, policies, procedures, and resources impacting your efforts to green the acquisition life cycle, ensuring the products and services you secure for the federal government are as environmentally friendly as possible from top to bottom. There are a couple of things I need to explain before we get started.
First, the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) is recording today's seminar. The video, along with all of the presentations you will see, will be posted in the video library on FAI’s website at (http://www.fai.gov/drupal/training/fai-video-library
). You should see these items in about one to two weeks. Second, we will be hosting a live question-and-answer session near the end of this seminar. If you have a question about green procurement strategies or resources or anything our presenters talk about, please use the link you see running on the screen to submit your question. We will remind you about this link periodically through the seminar. There's also a link to the right of the video screen allowing you to submit a question at any time. As you submit questions, our speakers will collect and review them on the spot. After the final presentation, we will gather them all together and they will be able to answer a few of your questions. With that, let's get started. Our first speaker from the General Services Administration will get us up to speed on green purchasing requirements as well as give us a demonstration of the Green Procurement Compilation tool. Let's go to him right now.
Brennan Conway (BC): Hi, everybody. My name is Brennan Conway from the General Services Administration. I’m a procurement analyst. I have worked at GSA for about 10 years now, which makes me feel kind of old, but that is ok. The past couple of years I have been focusing on green purchasing and sustainability. I will focus today on how to buy green. My presentation will be a pretty general overview of the broad federal green purchasing requirements, but I will also focus on a tool that GSA has developed called the Green Procurement Compilation that you can actually use after this presentation during your procurements. I will also touch on some tips for the GSA Advantage, in case you use that as a method for procurement. I will consider my presentation a success if you actually go ahead and use the Green Procurement Compilation afterwards and actually start to use that as a tool for your procurement.
So, why actually buy green products and services? Let's start with that. Believe it or not, it is not just something that we do just to torture Contract Officers. It is not just a clause that you put in your contracts and forget about. There are benefits to buying these kinds of products and services. We should recognize that green products and services make our agency better and more efficient, first through more energy efficiency, water efficiency, and benefits associated with reduced pollution and waste, better air quality, and improved worker safety. The list of benefits just keeps going.
Another reason is the opportunity for cost savings in the life cycle of these green products as well. In the current fiscal climate that is actually a big plus for green products and services. Another reason for green purchasing is that the government can have big impacts on markets. There have been instances where the government has expressed interest in the market developing or providing green services that we want to buy. An example of this is the electronic industry, where the federal government procures a lot of computers. And when we have indicated that we actually want to start buying these, the market actually delivered and started producing green electronics. Now we have a very robust standard for those products that are available. I will go into more about this later; it’s the EPEAT registry. Another good example is the 30% recovered content requirement for office and copier paper. That was a requirement set by the federal government for our purchasing. It is now pretty much ubiquitous in the market. It is hard to find paper that is not at least 30% recycled content. Those are some reasons why we buy green products and services. Not all of the reasons, but in addition to these reasons why we buy them, a good one is that we are told to through policy. We call it a requirement for a reason.
This is the overview of the major policies that require federal buyers to buy green products and services. They have been around for over 20 years now, in some cases. The requirements have recently intensified, and a good example is Executive Order 13514, which was released in 2009. What that executive order did was set a 95% goal that stated 95% of the federal contract actions from that point forward had to be green. That 95% requirement has since been embedded into the Federal Acquisition Regulation in FAR Part 23. If you do not believe me, you can look it up. There are also many agency-level requirements. There are so many plans that you would probably be surprised. And in a lot of cases, they reinforce the federal-wide policy, but certain agencies do have specific requirements based on their mission. For example, GSA has requirements about the ordering portals and accuracy of the products that we offer to our government customers. If you feel compelled, it may be a good idea to familiarize yourself with your own agency requirements.
So, let's take a closer look at the 95% goal that I talked about. It really is the best summary of the green purchasing requirements. What the executive order and the FAR specifically state is that 95% of contract actions be recycled content, energy-efficient, water-efficient, non-ozone depleting, nontoxic, and environmentally preferable. That is what the policy states. How does this actually get translated into practice? How do we find products that meet these criteria? Luckily, there are environmental programs, standards, and other criteria associated with these requirements that will point you to the products you are supposed to buy. I will go through each of these requirements now. Let's start with recycled content. We all recognize the “chasing arrows” symbol, which indicates recycled content. You should associate this with the comprehensive procurement guidelines, which is a program managed by the EPA, establish the recovered material content levels for select product categories, such as paper, construction, landscaping, etc.. The EPA states that the benefit of the program is that it ensures that the materials collected in the recycling programs will be used again for the manufacture of new products. They point out that the products work the same or better as comparable products.
For energy efficiency, there are two programs to be aware of as a federal buyer. The first is one that you may recognize. It is called Energy Star, and it is a joint program of the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE). They identify the energy-efficient products for about 60 product categories, in both the home and office. They have a labeling system where the products are certified and they receive a label once they are certified. You can see this on the products themselves. This is one of the most successful environmental labeling programs in the world. In addition, there is another energy efficiency program called the federal energy management program (FEMP). It is run by DOE and it also sets minimum energy efficiency requirements for categories that have the potential to generate significant savings. The difference is that FEMP does not purchase, recognize, or otherwise identify specific products. They set the requirements; they are kind of behind the scenes. They typically set the energy requirements to hit about the top 25% of the market, as far as energy efficiency is concerned. For water efficiency, there is a program called Water Sense. It is run by EPA. They have products and services -- I should point out that it is a labeling program as well. They certify specific products that are able to use the label for that product. In general, they aim to have performance in the top 20% of the market in terms of energy efficiency. They also point out that their products do not compromise performance, and include products such as toilets, sinks, and shower heads.
For bio-based content, there is a program managed by the USDA called the Bio-Preferred program. They establish the minimum bio-based content standards for a number of product categories. I will not spend a lot of time on this because we have Kate Lewis, who is the deputy program manager of the Bio-Preferred program. She will provide an overview of that. The non-ozone depleting substances- we have a program called the Significant New Alternate Program, also known as SNAP, not to be confused with the food stamp program. It evaluates, regulates, and provides substitutes for chemicals that are being phased out under the Clean Air Act. The EPA publishes a list of acceptable and unacceptable ozone depleting substances, based on the product and its use. These include adhesives, coatings, inks, and aerosols. When I think of ozone depleting, I think of aerosol. Low or non-toxic- the FAR does not tie this to a specific program as a requirement, but there is a federal program available that provides non-toxic alternatives, or low toxicity alternatives. It is called Designed For The Environment (DFE); it is managed by EPA and identifies safe chemical products that do not sacrifice quality of performance.
Notice that I said all of these do not sacrifice quality or performance. That is a key takeaway. They work. Sometimes there's a perception that green products are not necessarily as good as ‘brown’ products. But that is not the case, at least not in this day and age. The DFE logo means that the folks there screen each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects and they have confirmed that it contains only those ingredients that pose the least concern among chemicals in their class. They look at products like all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents, carpet or floor care products. Things like that. And finally, we have “environmentally preferable”. That is defined as products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment, when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. It is a broad definition, but the FAR does tie that requirement to a specific program, and that is EPEAT, and that stands for the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. We have Holly Elwood from EPA who will provide a much more in-depth explanation.
Until recently, my presentation would probably have just ended with this overview. I would have hoped you printed out the PowerPoint, made some notes, and looked up these websites and the associated products. But now, the good thing is that the GSA has a tool that summarizes all of the products associated with these programs and has put them all in one place, with other resources that make it easy to buy green. It is called the Green Procurement Compilation (GPC). It is part of a broader tool called the Sustainable Facilities Tool. I will get out of the PowerPoint mode and attempt a demo of the Sustainable Facilities Tool. I think everyone can see that. Let me drink some water really quick. The GSA bottle. It looks like everything is working. I am also on a Mac, which I’m not too familiar with, but it seems like the key word cursor works. The IT guys cannot believe I’m saying that. The Sustainable Facilities Tool clearly has a buildings focus. It covers the whole life cycle of the procurement, the building procurement or project, where you can learn about sustainable facilities planning, procurement, and sharing. If you are someone who worked in the buildings arena as a buyer or program person, I would advise you to go to this tool. It is pretty self-explanatory. You can walk around and familiarize yourself. I will focus on the Green Procurement Compilation, which you can go to by going to the “Procure” tab. You are free to follow along and shadow what I'm doing, otherwise just watch the screen.
I'm going to call it the GPC from now on. We have all the products that have a green requirement listed. They are categorized in different categories. The categories came about based on how federal buyers purchased things. There was a federal interagency working group that focuses on green purchasing to organically develop this list. They match the way the federal buyer community works. I will point out there is a link here to find out about all of these environmental programs. Those icons should look familiar- I just went through it on the PowerPoint. If you want to learn more about these resources I briefly went through, you can go here and it talks about all of them. I wanted to point that out, since I just provided an overview. I will go back to the “Procure” tab at the top.
There are two ways you can look for a green product. First, you can go through these categories that we have set up. Go ahead and click on “Appliances”. You'll see a number of specific product types that are available, anything from commercial fryers to freezers to microwaves to air conditioning. Let's say you want to buy a commercial freezer. Let's click on that and see what we have. This provides the specific green purchasing requirements and information that you need to make a purchase. Most important, and probably the most simple piece of information is in the left, the procurement information. You can put your cursor over the green icon. This is where it points out what requirements may exist. You can see there is an Energy Star requirement. That is 90% of what you need to know right there. If I am buying a commercial freezer, it needs to be Energy Star compliant. You’ll see this asterisk here, which specifies that federal agencies are actually required to purchase the Energy Star brand. This is not just guidance; this is an actual requirement. You will see the actual FAR citation for this. You go to FAR 23.1 or 23.2; it will provide additional guidance. This is something you need to know or should incorporate into your purchase agreement. This said that solid freezer doors are substantially more efficient than glass door models. If you have a choice between two Energy Star products and one has a glass door and the other has a solid door, you probably want to go with the solid door to get the extra energy efficiency savings and the cost savings associated.
Also, note that there is a sentence here about the calculator you can use to estimate how much money will save for a specific product. If there happens to be a higher up-front cost with the Energy Star product, which is not always the case, or not even usually the case, you can calculate the savings you will have by buying an energy-efficient product over the life cycle and then use your best determination to make the purchase. This is something that we are now pointing out, products that contribute to the high performance and sustainable buildings ‘guiding principles’. So, if you are a building person, that is a specific piece of information that you can note. If you're curious, you can click on and learn more about what those guiding principles are. I skipped the section "where to buy." that is exactly what it does- it shows you where you can buy according to the GSA schedules. I think I have been saying refrigerators when I meant freezers. I apologize if that is the case. Schedule 51V, 609-002 scheduled two- freezers available. There is a note that there's a green-only requirement. That means that at the schedule level, GSA has said we only want energy-efficient products available. We are weeding out the non-Energy Star products there.
Let's do a quick jump out to GSA Advantage. Actually, I should have clicked on this link that says “Buy on GSA Advantage”. It will take you to a page that will pre-search all of what is available for the Energy Star products. The green leaf means there is some sort of environmental benefit to the product. You can see on here the specific icon shows it is Energy Star-compliant. If you want to go to the specific product detail level, you can click on the link and it will take you to all the different contractors that are available for that product. You'll see the green column with the various Energy Star labels, or icons. You'll also notice that, at least in some cases, FEMP icons available, and that is because of the guidance that we saw about the solid door. You may be wondering why some products have the FEMP icon and others do not. That is because Energy Star has an automatic feed that we get from the Energy Star program. It is pretty accurate. They have a robust data registry where they specify the specific products that comply with Energy Star. FEMP, on the other hand, does not do that, so we are at the mercy of the contractor self-designating those requirements. The key takeaway there is, as a buyer, you have to confirm these designations, whether it is on Advantage or other ordering portals. Accuracy is something we're working very hard on at the GSA. Some of it comes down to the registries at these various eco-label programs; versus how do you identify characteristics with 23 million products? It is something we take seriously, but we do require that you confirm with the vendor.
Back to the GPC- I will go back to the “Procure” tab. You can also search for products using a keyword search. Let's say you are searching for some type of cleaner, you can type that. This is the way I search for cleaners. It is easier for me. There is a list of different types of cleaners. If you're looking for something specific, you can click on one of those, or you can look more generally. You can quickly scan and figure out what the specific requirements are for these products. Let's drill down into concrete and asphalt cleaners. You will see the same set of information- the 70% bio-based content requirement is the key takeaway. You’ll also see the DFE logo is included- this means that both those programs have green concrete and asphalt cleaners. In this case, the asterisk is by the bio-preferred program, which the FAR tells us that means the government is required to buy that product in this case. I encourage you to go through and play with this tool. If there is a product that you buy a lot of, see what it is telling you and what the requirements are.
I will spend a little bit of time on services now. I have focused mainly on products, but we buy a lot of services in the government. As far as the 95% goal is concerned for green purchasing of services, it requires that products used or in supply of performance of services must be green. There are 10 specific services where there's a lot of robust guidance out there. This was recently added to the GPC, so we had about eight of those 10 services provided. I think they're all categorized. This is freshly populated within the last couple of weeks. Let's go through and start with cafeteria food services. You're in the market to buy cafeteria and food services for some reason. At the top, you have a description of the service, what it is all about. A nice feature we have is a downloadable list of all the green requirements you may need; I believe it is a PDF. And you have the list of required green products; this is what you are required to do. There is a list of the different programs or products that may be procured when you're buying food services. That is somewhat helpful to know. You may be buying cutlery or napkins that have to be bio-based. The “Related Products” tab provides you with all of the major products that we have identified that you may also be buying. For example, if you are buying cutlery, it has to be bio-based content. The GPC also provides some optional practices that go beyond what is required. GSA partnered with Health and Human Services to provide information for this. There is advice for what you can offer food and beverage wise for general operation purposes, use and maintenance of appliances, and green cleaning and pest management. These practices will vary depending on the services you are buying. But we also provide information about evaluation factors and how you consider green sustainability when providing a service. I will not go through all of this, but it gives different advice on how you can incorporate sustainability into your evaluation factors. And finally, we show where GSA houses the schedule of services and we have a link to the GSA e-library.
That is the Green Procurement Compilation. That is all I have today. Again, my goal from this was to give you a broad overview of the requirements, and to give you a tool that you can start using in the future. Thanks for letting me take this time. It was pretty fun using this web cam. I will talk to you later.
JA: That was an incredibly comprehensive application, wasn't it? I hope you were thinking of ways to use it in your own agency. Remember, if you have questions for any of our presenters, please use the link to the right of the video screen to submit them. We will try to answer as many as possible during our live question and answer session at the end. Our next speaker, from the Environmental Protection Agency, is going to talk about the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program and the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT, that can help you in purchasing products.
Holly Elwood (HE): Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to you around the globe! I understand we have people from all over the U.S. and around the world today. I appreciate you taking the time to join us, and I want to thank FAI for having me here to speak to you. I'm going to give you an introduction to environmentally preferable purchasing and talk about some of the things that the government is doing to try to help better define what environmentally preferable products are to make it easier for us as purchasers to buy products and services. I will also give you a status of the activities so far to buy greener products and services in the federal community. And I will provide you with some tools and resources to help you buy green electronic products.
The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program was established in 1993 by Executive Order and has been reaffirmed in subsequent Executive Orders by President Bush and then also by President Obama in Executive Order 13514. It mandates that the EPA should try to harness federal purchasing power to green the markets. We do that by helping the federal agencies buy greener products and services. We do this for a variety of reasons; we want to reduce the environmental and public health impact of the products and services we procure. We want to increase the availability of these products and services throughout the world. And we want to use our demand to create supply globally for products that have a reduced impact on public health and the environment. Our job within the agency and then within my program is to work with stakeholders, both within the government and outside government to create a life cycle toward multi-attribute environmental performance standards for created products that feds procure. We try to take some of the great work that have been done throughout the community, such as the bio-based program that Kate will be talking about, and the Energy Star program, and integrate those into on standard for attributes of concern for a particular product or service. We also provide technical assistance to feds to buy products that meet those standards. So the focus of the program so far has been on electronics, buildings, and meetings. I will be talking more about electronics further in the presentation.
Brennan noted that Executive Order 13514 tells agencies that they need to advance sustainable acquisition to ensure that 95% of all applicable contracts will be procuring sustainable products. That includes procuring environmentally preferable products. Brennan also shared with you the definition of environmentally preferable that is in the Executive Order. We're looking at the whole life cycle of the product, so we're looking at the manufacturing that happens, and even before that, the materials extraction that happens. We're also looking at the use phase of the product and the disposal impacts, because there are impacts all across the life cycle of the products that we use. This slide shows some of the environmental attributes of concern that may exist for some products and services. This is very complicated stuff. It is very difficult to try to sift through the information and decide as a purchaser what is greener- what is the greenest thing for me to be procuring? That is why the EPA has the job that we do- to try to work with other technical experts to basically look at all of these different aspects of the attributes that create green products and try to define a set of attributes for what a green product is.
I mentioned that we would talk about a survey that we have recently done in looking at the federal government's work to try to buy greener products and services. We just completed this survey at the end of 2012. We did this in partnership with the Federal Acquisition Institute. I want to thank them for participating in this activity with us. The survey looked at three different key areas. We look at the awareness and use of Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) by federal purchasers; we look at the impact of EPP in environmental purchasing. And we also looked at the spillover effect on non-federal purchasing. We conducted a survey of 140,000 federal purchasers. We look at purchasing data and did interviews with government and non-governmental personnel around these questions. We had some very positive results that we found as a result of the survey. There is an acceptance of EPP among federal purchasers and green purchasing that has grown since 2011, and has increased substantially across the board. 80% of purchasers have positive opinions about green purchases. People used to be concerned about the quality of the green products not being as strong as the non-green products. But most purchasers do not see that as an issue anymore. And as we have found through the survey results, environmental factors are a consideration for most purchases today, but not yet a high priority, so we have some more work to do. The biggest barrier that remains is the lack of clarity on what is a ‘green product’. We have more work to do developing standards to help us to define that for federal purchasers and make it easier for them. The other thing we found out is that we need better data in order to be able to track what we are buying, and particularly, what environmentally preferable products we are purchasing within the federal government. The results of green purchasing are impressive where that data is available. We will be working with the sustainable acquisition management workgroup and others to get a better handle on our reporting and tracking of purchasing within the government.
Let's talk about how to procure greener electronics. This is a focus area for our program. The U.S. government is one of the biggest purchasers of IT products and services in the world, maybe the biggest. Our IT budget for this year was $80 billion. What we ask for gets built- and not only in the U.S., but globally. Built and sold. Because of that, we have a responsibility as well as an opportunity to make sure that we are thinking about environmental considerations as part of those procurements. Brennan mentioned that feds are required to procure Energy Star qualified and FEMP- designated products to ensure that we are minimizing the energy we use through these products. We also have requirements from the Executive Orders 13514 and 14123 and the FAR that we have to ensure that, if there is an EPEAT standard for the product, that 95% of what we're purchasing meets that standard. EPEAT is short for the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. It is a system that helps purchasers identify and select greener products. It’s also a system that helps manufacturers gain market recognition for going the extra mile to minimize the environmental and public health impact of the products they are selling to us. It is not an EPA program, though we are very involved with the development of the standards that the system is based on and provide advice to the federal community. There are three components of the system. It is a set of voluntary environmental performance criteria that defines required and optional environmental attributes for electronic products, assisting for listing the products that meet the criteria, and a method for verifying that the listed products have achieved that specified performance criteria. Right now, EPEAT covers computer desktops, laptops, and monitors, imaging equipment, and televisions. I will talk more about imaging equipment and televisions more in a minute. There will be standards development in the next couple of years for mobile devices.
How are the standards created? They are developed through ANSI-accredited standard organizations. The ANSI accreditation process means that the process is used by the organization is open and consensus-based. For all of those standards that have been built and integrated into the registry so far, there has been active participation from manufacturers, some recyclers, academics, government purchasers, and environmental advocacy organizations. For example, for the development of the imaging equipment and television standards, we had over 400 people participating in the development activities. A significant amount of technical expertise is tapped around the globe and integrated into those standards. Products can meet three different levels of registration under the EPEAT program. If it meets all of the required criteria, it is a bronze registered. If it needs all of the required criteria and 50% of the optional, it can be silver registered. And if it meets all of the required criteria and 75% of the optional criteria, it can be gold registered.
I wanted to get back to the green markets, and the government’s influence on them. Today, more than eight other national governments, scores of cities and states that you can see here, hotel and hospital chains, colleges and universities around the globe are procuring EPEAT-registered products and following our example. What we do really does matter! As a result of all of those purchases, and leases, there have been significant environmental benefits achieved globally- a clear sign that green purchasing is worth doing and gets results. These results are about to get bigger. EPEAT has just expanded to cover televisions and imaging equipment. If you would like to get a copy of either of the standards, you can get this through the URL that I list here. There is a fee, I believe about $75 apiece. But they are here. And there is a summary of the standard that is available.
As I mentioned, there is required and optional criteria in every standard. As an example, products have to meet the required criteria in every one of these environmental performance categories. For example, all products have to meet the technical specifications as well as the FEMP designations. And we also have standards to make sure that minimal and environmentally sensitive materials are used. There are also criteria encouraging the use of recycled and bio-based content. There are also criteria encouraging the product being easy to disassemble in order to maximize the reusability of the components of the product. And there is criteria that focus on making sure we can extend the life of the product to hold onto it as long as possible. There's criteria that focus on minimal packaging and encouraging takeback of the packaging by the vendor. There is criteria focusing on overall corporate performance. And there is criteria encouraging manufacturers to provide a takeback service. In every standard, the manufacturers are required to offer a takeback service for the product. They can charge for that, but they must send it to a recycler that has been certified to be an environmentally responsible electronics standard. That is a huge shift, and one of the big benefits that has come from us using our demand to impact supply and the overall marketplace. For imaging equipment products, we also have criteria that encourage us to be able to utilize environmentally preferable consumables, meaning coffee -- copy paper, cartridges, etc.. And we have criteria encouraging the minimizing of the air quality impact of those products. And there is an optional criteria that is more stringent throughout each of those categories as well.
When do we need to start buying the EPEAT-registered televisions and imaging equipment? The short answer is now. On May 31, there was a memo issued by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) and the CEQ’s office from the Federal Environmental Executive to begin to procure EPEAT-registered imaging equipment and TVs. I have the language here if you would like to look at that. There is also energy and sustainability ‘scorecards' done by each agency. We are graded on how well we are doing to meet our overall environmental goals, including our EPEAT requirements. As soon as January 2014, there will be questions added to that scorecard related to the procurement of the EPEAT-registered TVs and imaging equipment. The sooner we start transitioning towards green products in those purchases, the better off we will be. These are the products that are covered. Imaging equipment means printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines, etc. And for televisions, it is any display that is sold primarily as a television size 15 inches and up. That includes CRTs, LCDs, LEDs, and plasma televisions. As of the 15th of July, we had 420 EPEAT-registered products on the registry, manufactured by a host of manufacturers that represent over 80% of those manufacturing imaging equipment in the market globally today. For TVs, we have 125 television manufacturers, representing over 40% of the market today. There is no known price differential for these products. If you do not see a particular product brand or vendor on the registry that you want to procure from, let your vendors know. The only way to add products on to the registry is to feel there's a demand. Please talk to your vendors.
If you want to look at all of the products that are EPEAT-registered, you can go to the registry, which is live updated. I believe they update that every day. You can see both the products that are registered by each manufacturer, as well as search for a particular product brand. And you can search by particular criteria. You can look at which products are meeting the criteria you're looking for. There are a lot of ways the government obtains IT products; these are just some of the examples of some of the vehicles out there that we procured through. Some of these are ITG racks. Some of the agencies have their own IT BPAs. For any of these vehicles, you want to specify that you have EPEAT- registered products in all of your task orders. For any of these vehicles, make sure you are specifying EPEAT-registered throughout, because most of these vehicles are giving us access to EPEAT-registered as well as non-EPEAT registered products, so that is important to do.
Let's talk about if you have an IT BPA in place. If you have future considerations in your contracts where you mentioned you wanted to buy an EPEAT-registered product, you should be able to buy that now. You may want to talk to your vendors about that. You may also want to see the EPEAT registration levels if you need to change any requirements to fit a specific level. If you feel like you have enough products to choose from, that may not be necessary. But take a look and make sure you are comfortable with the options you have available at the level you have required. If the contract does not have this language already included, you may still be able to buy EPEAT-registered. Check if you can specify EPEAT registration in the delivery orders, or consider if you can add a requirement in an upcoming contract modification. For new contracts, this is the language that we're recommending you put into any new contracts that you might let. This is the paraphrase of the language that will be added to the FAR in the coming months. There are also clauses about computer laptops and desktops in the FAR as well. I think it is 52.223 -16, 17, and 18, if I'm not mistaken. This gives you a heads up on what is being required and what you can put into the contracts for now.
In addition, we have some language that will not be added to the FAR, but will help with the compliance requirements and to get your numbers up. If you're going to put a contract in place that will allow your purchasers to buy through some kind of e- catalog, we recommend putting in a sentence to encourage choice editing and to block non-EPEAT-registered products from being available through those catalogs. I also want to talk about reporting. OMB has this sustainability scorecard that all of our agencies are required to fill out and submit. And there are questions in the scorecard related to computer desktops, laptops, and monitors and our purchase of those. And there are questions that are going to be added to the scorecard soon. Our intention with the draft questions that we're helped to create is to ask questions about sample products to reduce reporting burden for the federal community. Final guidance will be shared on what those questions are. Those will be coming shortly. And for that reason, we recommend that you also consider putting this kind of language in the contract. This is a way to ensure that the vendors are giving you the data that you're going to need for the OMB energy and sustainability score card activity, so you have something that is very easy to provide out as part of your reporting activity. These are the printers, copiers, MFDs, and the proposed several categories that we're being asked to track on the scorecard from here on out.
Lastly, I want to mention there are a lot of ways to influence the overall environmental impact of the products we procure, not just at the procurement phase. There is a GSA bulletin 37 which is called ‘federal print management practices’ that covers a bunch of things we can do with imaging equipment to minimize the environmental impact of those products. For imaging equipment, a double sided copy is very important. I wanted to focus on this a little bit. We have a requirement to do double-sided copying to save money and to reduce environmental impact. You can do that by requiring all of your imaging equipment contracts, all of the equipment is shipped in duplex as a default function. That means double sided copying. You should also discuss with your IT staff the need to retain that duplexing function during the installation of the equipment. Maybe we can start those communications now. Many of you may have already done this work. I also want to point out that you should ensure duplexing function is installed from the computer is you are printing from as well. This is my contact information and the EPA website. I am looking forward to our question and answer period. Thanks very much for your time.
JA: Didn’t I tell you that it is easy being green? And the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program and EPEAT make it so. A reminder, all the presentations you see today along with a recording of this seminar will be posted on the Federal Acquisition Institute's website, FAI.gov. Do not forget to keep those questions coming. We will get to those after the final presentation. Our final presenter from the Department of Agriculture will give us an overview of the bio-preferred program, as well as purchasing bio-based products and how to integrate those products into acquisition vehicles.
Kate Lewis (KL): Hello, good afternoon. I’m Kate Lewis, Deputy program manager of USDA's bio-preferred program. Yes, another program person with you. It is a pleasure to speak to a fair number of you participating in this FAI webinar this afternoon. I am in the enviable position of being the last presenter. What I am going to share with you this afternoon in as interesting and compelling way as I can is information about bio-based products. As the Deputy program manager, I pretty much eat, sleep, and brief bio-based products. I do not eat them, even though they are made from renewable agricultural materials here I would not recommend you eat them. But at the end of this presentation, I want you to understand what bio-based products are, understand and learn about the products and how they fit into USDA's unique effort to increase their development and purchasing, understand what our obligations are as a federal community to expect and buy bio-based. In terms of obligations, this is USDA as an agency, who purchases a tremendous amount of products and services, we have these obligations as well. Not only are we in the leadership position of running the program, we are trying to both walk the walk and talk the talk at USDA. I want to give a little shout- out -- whoo! That goes to the USDA technical folks and the officers on this webinar today. And we will talk about how to actually translate these various federal, environmental, and sustainability policies into operational practices. How to actually facilitate the transactions to increase the specification and purchase of bio-based products. And as a part of that, understand how these products are identified, where they are sold, and how you can increase the federal government's purchasing of them.
Let's start at square one, the basics. What is bio-preferred and bio- based and certified bio-based, and how does it relate to USDA? The program was initiated about 10 years ago through the 2002 Farm Bill, and then it was reauthorized. Congress has given USDA the authority to run an initiative that identifies bio-based products. The goal of the program, as you heard Brennan and Holly mention already, it is to use the federal purchasing power and use the impact of the federal market to really break open and employee and identify new markets for these products that are made from renewable materials. The program is led by USDA, as I said, a small staff in our agency. There are two sides of the program. I will focus on one side primarily today. It is the preferred federal purchasing initiative. There is a related effort that identifies through a certification that labels bio- based products, and it impacts federal purchasing but it is also a separate stand-alone consumer initiative. For the purposes of the webinar today, we are going to be focused on sustainable purchasing of bio-based.
What is a bio-based product? Before I came to USDA four years ago, I could tell you I guess I thought it was a fuel. There are biofuels out there, bio-based, corn, ethanol. But a bio-based product or bio- based products, there is a tremendous portfolio of them. It is a product that is either an intermediate product sold commercially or a final end- use product composed of recent biological materials. That means it is made up of agricultural materials. Feedstocks, like corn , plant- based feedstocks like corn, wheat, or soy. A material that is made from algae or items sourced from oceans. And these biological materials are manufactured using the latest technological processes intro these new revolutionary products. Bio-based products are end-use products that the consumer uses and the federal government uses every day. It includes things like renewable chemical components and things like that. Not going to touch on those extreme products today. For this webinar, we will focus on the bio-based products that the federal government agencies and military service branch use as a part of our operations.
There are a number of policies in the form of legislative and executive drivers that kind of overlay each other. The program’s authority was provided from the 2002-2008 Farm Bill. As you heard, there are these other executive drivers in the form of changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation to presidential Executive Orders that are, again, really trying to lay down the importance of strategic purchase and procurement for products and a couple key product areas that the government identifies. Some additional drivers that are sort of one level below the executive-level policies are the Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans, the SSPP's that are a couple years old at this point, as well as the overlaid OMB scorecards. The OMB scorecards, as you have heard, include goals related to sustainable acquisition, including the purchasing procurement of bio-based products. These scorecards are reviewed quarterly and annually to really demonstrate and to check up that agencies and DoD are demonstrating 95% of the sustainable acquisition goal.
Again, the key part of those last couple of slides and this final slide is that we are all familiar as sustainable policy and program folks, we are all familiar with Executive Order 13514, the “greening the government” Executive Order. There are armies of professionals including the acquisition community that are trying to translate these policies and these goals into practices every day. Obviously, the key tenet of Executive Order 13514 for our seminar today is the identification of what the government deems sustainable products. They are products that fall into one of these seven product identifiers that you see on this slide. Bio-based being one of the seven, which I am going to give you a comprehensive understanding and overview today. The last piece of policy is really --I bring it up because it is fairly recent and fairly big picture. Last year President Obama's administration issued two pieces of memorandum or policy that were specifically focused on by our best products. This really codifies in a very current way the regulations and policies that exist on sustainable product purchasing, especially as it relates to bio- based. One of the most interesting aspects of the administration's Executive Order memorandum on bio-based products, which happened last Spring 2002 was the administration calling for a bio-preferred program, as well as federal agencies to strengthen the reporting requirements and the tools and resources to help federal agencies, as well as federal contractors working on behalf of those agencies to report their bio-based product purchases.
Now that you know a little bit more about the products and you know about, as federal employees, our purchasing regulations and requirements, I wanted to leave you with a couple of “whys”. Why are we all working so hard to elevate the prominence of these different types of products? Specific to bio-based, the increasing development specification, purchase, and use of bio-based products creates new markets for foreign commodities. You heard about that federal buying and the collective power of the federal market, it can drive markets in terms of additional product development that is related and other types of governments that kind of ride our coattails to be able to experience the same successes. Buying bio-preferred encourages new industries and products in the growth of supply chains that grow with those industries and products. It has a spillover effect of creating jobs and the kind of really important green jobs or “green collar jobs”, you might have heard them referred to, throughout our country, which has certainly been a nugget of importance that has run through our country in the past couple of years. Lastly but not least unimportant, the development of bio-based products can reduce the use of fossil fuels because of the way the products are formulated in terms of the new carbon content of the products. In many cases for these products and the categories they are in, and I will go over those with you in just a minute, what is happening is that a manufacturer is replacing the non-renewable petroleum aspect or petroleum source of the product with a more renewable oil or feed stock created from a more inert ingredient and one that is certainly more environmentally preferable from a lifecycle stage. Again, the displacement of carbon is important as it relates to the development of these products and the purchasing of them as well.
Let's talk a little bit about the federal procurement preference, but let's stay big picture here. You know about the products. You know what they are. How many products are we talking about here? Again, it is, by law, it is a regulation, codified by policy and various drivers that federal agencies, DoD, military service branches, and the federal contractors that support them, must show purchasing preference of bio-based products. Currently, more than 10,000 products to choose from in more than 100 different categories. As a federal community, we have to give purchasing preference of these products in whatever way we go about acquiring them. From micro-purchases made on purchase cards to the products as they are provided through acquisition activities. Our service contracts. That was talked about a little bit in Brennans's opening presentation, our construction contracts.
The next slides are designed to give you a birds-eye view of what these 97 product categories and 10,000 products are, what types of products are they? They generally fall into product classifications that are most commonly used by the federal agencies in our day-to-day operations. You can see the bio-based categories where the bio-based contents vary. Cleaning products, a number of office products. Bio-based printer toner has been developed over the past five years, and this is often provided to the federal community and remanufactured toner cartridges, packaging materials, different ink products. For food service and cafeteria operations, disposable cutlery and food cleaners and disposable tableware as an alternative to some of that petroleum-based styrofoam packaging that is quite widely used. O&M, operations and maintenance. These are some of the more industrial products, the lubricants for machining, different types of engine oils, and some of the industrial and commercial-type cleaning products. On the fleet side in use of federal motor pool operations, you still see some of the lubricants, fuel additives, greases, hydraulic fluids. These are bio-based products available and in use within DoD operations and in federal agencies right now.
On the groundskeeping side, a number of agricultural-type products like fertilizers, mulch, and compost are composed with bio-based materials. The picture at the bottom is actually an application of a bio-based fertilizer being used. It is likely that the contracting officer who made that happen is sitting in on this presentation today. One of the goals of my presentation is, even though our goals are great as a federal community for product purchasing, it really comes down to individuals making different choices with the right amount of information that is in front of them. Brennan, Holly, and I are striving to reduce the burden for you in terms of acquisition and give you the right amount of information you need to amend these contracts efficiently and logically and effectively. Last type of bucket of products, construction materials. Perfect for specification in new construction, building services contracts. You have composite panels and roof coating materials and concrete sealers and insulating foam.
These are the most common distribution channels that federal buyers can find products for sale. Brennan talked about this, and there are some challenges related to the identification of sustainable products in these portals, but a lot of progress has been made in the past five to 10 years about the proper identification of all of the identified federal sustainable products. GSA Advantage has more than 20 million green or sustainable products in there, so it is important that, as a buyer we trust what the vendor articulates, but we verify it as well. And with tools like the Green Purchasing Compilation, it is making that verification a lot easier for us.
In terms of the bio-preferred program, we not only identified bio-based product categories and products within them that need a particular bio-based content, we also develop tools and resources for the manufacturers of those products to link to the buyers of the products on the federal side. We develop our tools and resources based on the barriers we are seeing in the federal marketplace. So I think one of the barriers that has been debunked has to do with availability of bio-based products. As you can see from the information that Brennan presented, these products are available, both in standard acquisition means and also through supply sites for the federal government. Holly talked a lot about product quality, and this was a barrier not only for bio-based products but for some of the other environmentally-preferable products of the government was struggling to buy as well. There was this myth that I also think has been debunked, as Holly presented through some of the EPP survey results over the past couple years, that the product quality of green or sustainable offerings was not as efficacious as a conventional product. What we have seen is these products have matured, and the science behind them has grown, so that is not really an issue anymore. It is possible to find readily available sustainable products with the same or even better quality as their conventional counterparts. And this information on the slide gets at a barrier we hear a lot, especially from consumers and federal buyers and commercial buyers “Oh, bio-based products are too expensive – if I had it in my budget…” Based on pricing data, we're starting to see that in some cases, some products, and some categories, there is a slight green price premium. But for many products and other categories, it is simply not there. You can see that that is what this information shows. Bio-based products are available at standard price points, if not below standard price points, of conventional products.
Some additional program tools and resources we have created are contract language templates to make it easier for contracting officers and technical folks that advise them to really drop in information related to increasing the specification. There are seven standard bio-based contract clauses on our website for the most common types of federal contracts that could use bio-based products, and these contract templates are for custodial services, food services and cafeteria, grounds and maintenance, minor construction, operations and maintenance, and vehicle maintenance. You can see the contract clauses fall into the kind of bundles that you saw me present in the earlier slides. I guess lastly, I would be remiss if I did not point you toward our program’s website. Www.biopreferred.gov, your one-stop shop for bio-based information. We hope that after this learning seminar, you will feel free to go there and download the resources and tools that we have created, especially to make this process an easier one. It is really our hope that federal acquisition professionals, through the workforce collaboration with us, the policy and program staff, the Brennans, Hollys, and Kates at the federal community, we can make sure the federal sector is greening our marketplace. We are also making global product markets more efficient and more sustainable. Thank you for your time and your attention today. I think after a short break we will convene, the three of us, to answer the questions that have come in during the seminar.
JA: That was an amazing overview of the bio-preferred program. We hope you found all of the presentations today valueable and extremely useful. If you did not before we began, I bet you now see just how easy it is for your agency to be green. Do not go anywhere. We have been collecting the questions you have submitted. After a brief break, we will bring the entire panel together, and we will try to answer a few of your questions. We will be back in a moment.
BC: All right, I have a set of questions here we are going to go through. The first question says -- if we procure cloud-based -- [no audio] it is green, yellow, red, white, based on how well you perform. So they are tracking at OMB for that. As far as cloud-based IT services, that is not part of the 95% goal, so that is not considered green in that aspect. I am not sure if there is another OMB question related to that. I do not believe there is specific to cloud-based services, but Holly does have additional information about cloud-based requirements.
HE: Yeah, I just wanted to share that I think it is really important that we are encouraging our clouds to be as green as possible. When we are putting our requirements together, we want to make sure that we are requiring that any vendor that we are procuring IT services through for cloud-based services is using Energy Star qualified servers. Also, there are a couple different initiatives to put together criteria for what defines a green data center. I am sorry to say that I do not know the titles of those initiatives off the top of my head, but I know DOE has big activity in this area and EPA does as well. I encourage you to Google those and get that information about the kinds of criteria that are defined through those green data center initiatives and think about including those as requirements in any cloud-based IT services acquisition.
HE: So, let's see, I had a question about costs, two questions about costs. The first one was, which way is greater, cost or being greener in a purchase? I wanted to say here that all federal purchasers are mandated to get the best value for the government as part of any procurement, and best value means looking at costs, value, performance, as well as environmental impacts. For most green products, there is really no price differential at this point. So you do not have to pay more to get a greener product in many instances. A question I had next is related, so I will do that one as well now. Question- “A lot of times I hear that buying green and environmentally-preferable products is more expensive than not buying green. Is there any truth to this? Has it changed over the years?” Maybe it is cheaper to go green in 2013. The federal community makes it cheaper by using our demand to bring down the costs for all purchasers. That is a really important part or what all these green purchase activities are about. There is no price difference on the EPEAT purchases at this point. That is what I am familiar with.
BC: I saw in your presentation, you had some price analysis, too. In some cases, green products were -- in some cases, the green products, the bio-preferred products are more expensive and in other cases they were not. We did a similar study at GSA for paper products with recycled content, and we found similar results. In some categories there is a slight price premium. We looked at eight categories in about four had a slight premium, but the other four had a slight differential. Two had a significant amount of savings. I think it just depends. Sometimes green products are more expensive and sometimes they are not.
KL: If I could add to that, what I would add would be that these things are incremental. As we all achieve progress, that issue of price premiums and price differential, it becomes less and less of an issue for everybody. This is something that the vendors that make these products are up against every day as well, so we really are sort of two audiences here that are trying to share the same message. It is just impossible to look solely at first cost as an aspect in these purchasing -- in our purchasing activity. It is very difficult. We certainly all know the incredible financial constraints that the federal community and all of us within the federal community have been put under this year. But it is possible to make these transactions happen with the right information and the right kind of information.
I would be happy to share this. I think it is a very interesting sort of case study. “I am a CO and recently did a solicitation for a roof repair project. I identified bio-preferred products to be used in the contract. My question is -- what does the vendor report to biopreferred.gov? Only the bio-based items, or ALL environmentally preferred products?” This is a very strategic operational question, because the answer to this is we're still figuring that out. So work with us and help us pilot this reporting. I mentioned the Obama Memorandum of Understanding that was issued last spring. One of the eight tenets of the MOU was, “hey, federal agencies, specifically USDA, help each other figure out what type of reporting is necessary to feed the OMB stoplight scorecard.” Is that widget-level reporting? And is that a good idea? And if so, how would we move forward as a community to make that happen? These are all questions that are still being addressed and asked. And the best way to get them answered is to work with a handful of COs on actual projects so we can demonstrate that this type of reporting is feasible and this type is not. So I would say to the questioner, please get back in touch with me, katelewis@USDA.gov
, and let's involve you in that dialogue to help answer this question. We put up, right before Christmas 2012 this reporting portal on our website, and it is a start. It is not comprehensive at this point and will not solve all the reporting questions, but the thinking is that with federal sustainable products reporting workgroup, we can start to plug in this data, analyze it, and see if this type of approach is going to work. Can you (Holly) address widget-level reporting, IDPP, and/or EPEAT?
HE: For EPEAT, I offered up the list of questions that are related to computers, desktops, laptops, and monitors – so we have sort of widget-level reporting. We will be adding some questions related to image equipment and television soon.
KL: That is right, you said by 2014.
HE: Yes, but we are minimizing the products we're going to be asking the questions about. At least the draft questions that exist right now, only being discussed right now, just focused on three sample product categories. That was to try to reduce the burden on all of us as federal purchasers and reporters for this data. So we do have that information, and I think a lot of purchasers have found it really helpful to put that reporting language into their contracts where they can then get the information from their vendors and roll that up without too much trouble. In cases where we are buying contracts -- a little trickier when we have more decentralized procurements happening.
BC: Good. All right, it is my turn. Here is a good one -- does GSA ensure that all applicable green purchasing requirements are embedded in their FSS contracts? And, if so, do they not need to repeat the applicable green purchasing requirements? That is a really good question. The multiple work schedules do include the major contract clauses. So if we are selling a product that falls within an Energy Star program, we will have the Energy Star clause in the contract which will flow down to the delivery order and task order, but we do think you should reinforce that requirement at the order level. If you want to include the clause again, it does not hurt. But also if you want to make sure it is in your requirements document, that is a good idea. Just because a clause is in there, it does get ignored a lot. It may not be honored or you may not get the green product. So you have to really reinforce it at the task order and delivery order level. Your turn.
HE: Yeah, I am done, at least with my questions. Back to you.
BC: Do we have group questions?
HE: Maybe I should talk about the weather. I feel like I am a newscaster.
BC: I think this one came in from the group questions. “How do these requirements apply to procurement of professional services, say, architecture/engineering services?” When you talk about professional service, I think of services that do not require many products, where you really just have someone at a desk as a contractor doing some work. At the end of the day, you may get a report. In that case, right now if there are not many products being used that fall within the green purchasing requirements, we just require that those professional service contractors provide the deliverables electronically or 30% recycled content paper, double-sided. In some cases, that is all you can do right now. But if there are instances where these professional service providers are actually using or supplying products covered by the GPC, then they are subject to -- and they should be those green products in the Procurement Compilation. I will go ahead and note that GSA and the folks from EPA and other parts of the government are looking at how we can green some of the services, like professional services, what the impacts are arising from the services, or there is actually a standard development group, NSF International, creating a standard specifically for service and service providers that we think, once that is ready, will address this question and could potentially be incorporated for federal use. So I think that is it.
KL: That is really interesting to know, because I cannot speak for all the different categories of federally-identified sustainable products, but for bio-based products, with a limited amount of reconnaissance and research we have been able to gather on this, our feeling is that more of the bio-based products are in use in the federal sector as a result of service contracts, as opposed to straight product acquisition.
BC: I think most procurements actually are service buys now for GSA. That makes sense.
HE: I think for professional service contracts, we want to make sure that we're buying EPEAT registered, that the vendors that we're getting this professional services from are utilizing EPEAT registered computers, desktops, monitors, TVs, and imaging equipment. That is something we have to be sure to include.
BC: I have an easy one. “Can you send the websites for the EPA, DOE, USDA green programs?” That was on the Green Procurement Compilation. You can go there. Otherwise, I do not think we can send it. But my presentation has the information there. Ok, let's do a group one. I am tired.
BC: All right, they are all still for me, kind of. “Can someone speak to the specific role of the contracting officer in green purchasing?” I actually had a similar one like that. “If I work primarily on evaluation contracts, do I have an obligation to require that they engage in green purchasing?” Both kind of about the roles of different stakeholders in the procurement process. I think the question – I think it gets to the question of having these requirements for products that are not green, so do I add it and when I’m being asked to procure something that does not have that requirement? And maybe on the other side of the program folks, what the requirements are relying on the COs, making sure those get in there. Everyone in the procurement team is responsible to meet these green purchasing requirements. If I was the CO, and I had a request for a computer that was covered by the EPEAT program that if they were asking for a specific requirement that maybe was not necessary, maybe excluded from EPEAT, I would make sure that the product could meet the requirements that are required in the FAR and the Executive Order. I think you are responsible as a CO to make sure these green purchasing requirements are included.
HE: There was a question here about someone asked, “Well, why not just follow LEAD guidelines?” For those who are not familiar with LEAD, LEAD is a set of standards that determines what a green building is. It is really focused on both new buildings and existing buildings. So if you're doing any kind of building construction contract, it is a very useful tool. The people in my program, I mention we focus on electronics and buildings and meeting services. For buildings, we have been very involved in the LEAD program and providing input to help to develop and strengthen the criteria under the LEAD standards that are built by the U.S. green building council. That is definitely a very good tool for building construction, but it really focuses just on that category, so we cannot use that program to look at our electronics procurement or a whole host of our other products and services that we purchase and utilize in the federal government.
KL: I have actually got one. I think it is an interesting question. It addresses kind of overlap and some limitation, which is always good to get out there. “How does the use of bio-products that require much more carbon- based fuels to process actually benefit us as opposed to naturally occurring products?” And this is a really strategic question, and it is very difficult to answer. I think Holly brings up the issue of the federal government and there being some duplication of effort related to, ok, you laid out all these products, what should we buy and what takes precedence over what? USDA's identification of bio- based products is based on one attribute, the project's renewable bio content. That is measured in a standard test method that has been vetted and identified. But the bottom line is that USDA identifies bio-based products, cleaning products, construction products, fleet products, and identifying them just based on their amount of renewable content. Well, that’s good, but also not so good. The legislative authority outlines USDA to do that, and that probably made sense 10 years ago when we originally received the authority. But in the past 10 to 20 years, it has gotten much more sophisticated, and rightfully so, much more strategic. So that at this point, buyers are not necessarily looking at just one aspect or attribute of a product here. Holly's slides look at this. But even looking at the material or ingredients used to supply the product. So there is an issue with -- what is the best way to most hasten the best types of products being procured and used? There is a little bit of limitation in terms of the bio- based products. Just because it is certified bio-based, which USDA does, or identified by the bio-preferred program for federal purchasing, does not necessarily mean in all cases it is a more environmentally-preferable product. It is tough to say that, because that introduces another level of confusion. Then why is the federal government requiring us to do this? I guess long story short, in summary, and I would love to hear from both of you on this, because this is known within the federal community and I think that there is an opportunity for some real, as we go forward, enhanced collaboration or to fold bio-based as one attribute into more EPP products. Right now, bio-based is standalone. Will it be that way in the future? I do not know. Does it need to be? Maybe, maybe not. I would love to hear what you both think about this. Our opinions could really be enlightening to answer this question. It is a tough question because there really are not any easy answers.
BC: When I was presenting, I had an example, I think a concrete asphalt cleaner that was both bio-preferred and DFE. It would be interesting to see how many, you know, it would take a lot for the contractor to get both certifications and there is time and expense for that. I imagine a lot of the bio-based to go through the DFE product, and you would have a both low, non-toxic product as well as being bio-based content. So you would get both of those attributes for that product. I think over time, these kind of attributes are going to align, like we are seeing with EPEAT including Energy Star and other attributes.
KL: Quite honestly, I think that is one of the biggest strengths of EPEAT-registered products. It is a simpler and easier way to address these other attributes that have been addressed through these very singular programs and processes.
HE: I mean, we have heard a lot from purchasers that they appreciate having all of the different things they need to be thinking about in terms of green purchasing in one standard, ask for one thing, and then they know they're getting all of their green purchasing requirements met. So that is what we have seen as one of the big values of the multi-attribute standard approach. I think we had to start from a single attribute program perspective at first, because there is just a lot we did not know and we really needed to get data so that we could then collect all the data we had on -- well, what is an efficient set of guidelines for this product am a what do we want to set as thresholds related to this product, what kind of energy efficiency guidelines do we want? Then we can put those things together. But if we do not have them, then it is hard to put them all together. We are now at a really neat place in green purchasing, because we now have more information and I think we are able to now start to think about how we can better integrate it and make this easier for everybody. We need to get more information as we go about those trade-offs between different environmental attributes of concern and there are some tough choices and some of those decisions and those conflicts between two attributes. It is not simple, but it is where we need to be heading.
BC: Next question. “Is money available from any government source for going green or is this on each department to fund the necessary upgrades?” So I think, I mean, the purchase of these, there is not some special allocated fund to my knowledge. We're talking about general funds allocated for your procurement activities. I think it sound like there is a perception that these are ‘special’ type products for specific initiatives when what we're really talking about are products that are commercially available but are green. So if you think of Energy Star -- I think there is another question along these lines about how to get the money to buy these special green products. But that is kind of the point, these are products that are available in the marketplace. You can go to home depot and see Water Sense products available, Energy Star products. So the answer is, yes, money is available from the funds you are already using to buy.
KL: None of us are sitting appeared trying to be glib about this. We are all under these tremendous strains to do more with less. We realize when you have to do more with less or even the same amount in some cases which would be a luxury, your job gets harder. All of our jobs are getting harder, but hopefully that pressure will just help us become even more efficient and collaborate all the more.
BC: The next question kind of follows on – “how do these programs (green energy products versus proven equipment) line up with budget restrictions?” It is kind of the same. These are proven products. These are energy-efficient products. I think what I described these programs, the first thing these programs look at when they certify a product is if it works. That is really the most important component of a green product. If it does not work, it is really not sustainable. I just got a sign that that was our last question. Thank you for listening to us answer your questions. And take care.
KL: Thank you.
JA: Thank you very much for tuning into today's Acquisition Learning Seminar. We hope you will join us for future seminars from the Federal Acquisition Institute; from all of us here, we thank you.