Responsible Purchasing Network


A sustainable procurement policy is an important – and relatively easy way – for an institutional purchaser to demonstrate its commitment to improving the sustainability of its operations through the products and services it buys. The examples below incorporate RPN's best practices for developing a sustainable procurement policy.


Executive Order 13693: Planning for Sustainability in the Next Decade, 2015 (pdf)

Focuses on reducing the Federal Government’s GHG emissions by at least 40 percent over the next decade, relative to 2008 levels. Covers a wide range of sustainability policy areas, with several sections devoted to sustainable purchasing.


Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Order 515: Establishing an Environmental Purchasing Policy, 2009 (pdf)

Requires executive departments to procure environmentally preferable products and services whenever they are readily available, perform to satisfactory standards, and represent best value. When purchasing goods and services, agencies must consider the total cost of ownership, including all costs associated with the production, purchase, transportation, use, operation, and disposal.

Province of Nova Scotia: 3.1 Sustainable Procurement Policy, 2011 (pdf)

Requires provincial departments to consider sustainable criteria in all procurement decisions. Directs specifications to be developed on a category by category basis.

State of Maryland House Bill 629: Environmentally Preferable Procurement, 2014 (pdf)

Updates membership in and responsibilities of Maryland's Green Purchasing Committee. Directs committee to develop an environmentally preferable purchasing strategy, best practices manual, and specifications, which are to be adopted by state agencies.

State of New York Executive Order No. 4: Establishing a State Green Procurement and Agency Sustainability Program, 2008 (pdf)

Establishes an Interagency Committee on Sustainability and Green Procurement that develops green purchasing specifications for at least 12 products from three or more priority categories annually. The Committee also establishes goals for reducing solid waste and provides sustainability training.


Alameda County, CA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy Resolution, 2011 (pdf)

Provides a framework for determining environmentally preferable alternatives to priority product categories. This framework has four key policy principles: 1) prioritize waste reduction, 2) purchase products with recycled content, 3) integrate factors from products' entire lifecycle into purchasing decisions, and 4) use third-party ecolabels when available.

King County, WA 18.20: Environmentally Preferable Product Procurement Policy, 2011 (pdf)

Updates original policy established in 1989 to include revisions for paper reduction and purchase of 100 percent recycled-content paper, electronics recycling, and reporting requirements. Directs agencies to purchase recycled and other environmentally preferable products whenever the product meets the County's price and performance requirements.

Snohomish County, WA POL-1736: Environmentally Preferable Purchasing and Utilization (EPP), 2011 (pdf)

Establishes environmentally preferable purchasing criteria and guidelines. Makes life cycle cost assessments a standard part of the County purchasing process.


City of Ann Arbor, MI Environmentally Preferable Procurement Policy, 2018 (pdf)

Directs the City to acquire goods and services in a manner that integrates fiscal responsibility and environmental stewardship; outlines environmental factors to be considered in product and service acquisitions; directs the City to use the most stringent third-party certifications where applicable; outlines responsibilities of City staff, and promotes the use of best practices.

City of Austin, TX Environmentally Preferable Procurement Policy, 2018 (pdf)

Directs the City to track sustainable attributes in contracts; use best practices; incorporate independent, third-party social and environmental certifications when writing specifications or procuring products and services; and take protective measures when evaluating products and services that threaten to harm human health or the environment due to their quality, relative degree, or specific degree of being toxic or poisonous. The policy also provides standards, specifications, and language to incorporate into specification documents.

City of Denver, CO Executive Order No. 123: Office of Sustainability and Citywide Sustainability Policy, Memorandum 123-D, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, 2013 (pdf)

Directs the City to provide guidance to all agencies on EPP requirements, processes, and strategies; provide training to buyers; include standard EPP language in all formal solicitations; assist agencies in developing specifications; ensure EPP criteria are included in product or service evaluations; track and report annually on the City’s progress; and communicate with agencies about the EPP program.

City of Portland, OR Sustainable Procurement Policy, 2018 (pdf)

Consolidates sustainable procurement-related policies, expands metrics/reporting, provides decision-making direction for employees, and sets the foundation to be strategic in both activities and communications.

City of San José, CA Environmentally Preferable Procurement Policy (EP3), 2012 (pdf)

Seeks to reduce the environmental impact of purchases by addressing product content, extended producer responsibility, environmental product standards, other environmental factors, and performance measurement.

City of Santa Monica, CA Procurement Administrative Instruction, 2018 (pdf)

Directs City staff to follow detailed green purchasing guidance outlined in a series of Green Purchasing Easy Guides. Easy Guides are internal publications that describe the environmental and health benefits of specific sustainable products and services, highlight applicable third-party certifications, and include bid specifications.

City of Spokane, WA Environmentally Preferable Purchases, 2014 (pdf)

Supports markets for recycled and other environmentally preferable products by directing City departments to purchase products whenever practicable. The City’s Green Team develops an environmentally preferable purchases (EPP) list and makes annual updates, informing City departments of their responsibility under this policy and providing implementation assistance.

District of Columbia Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, 2015 (pdf)

Sets up a very specific mechanism to designate environmentally preferable purchasing as the default activity. Outlines procedures for utilizing the District's environmentally preferable procurement specification guidance and tracking the purchase of sustainable products.

Colleges & Universities

American University Sustainable Purchasing Policy, 2013 (pdf)

Provides guidelines, information, and resources for developing sustainable purchasing practices across all departments and offices for ongoing consumables, durable goods, facility alterations and additions, and mercury-containing lamps.

Emory University Sustainable Procurement Policy, 2014 (pdf)

Lists five focus areas: source reduction, recycled-content products, energy and water savings, toxins and pollution, and forest conservation. Also outlines environmental attributes to look for when purchasing products and qualities to look for in companies/suppliers.

University of California Sustainable Practices Policy, 2015 (pdf)

Governs all University of California campuses, medical centers, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Establishes goals in nine areas: green building, clean energy, transportation, climate protection, sustainable operations, waste reduction and recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, sustainable foodservice, sustainable water systems.