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Sustainable Procurement

Category: Business Practices, Sustainable Procurement

Campuses have the potential to use a lot of natural resources through the products they consume. Purchasing decisions are most often decentralized and focused first on cost. Updating procurement policies can reduce waste generated from product manufacturing and packaging as well as reduce carbon emissions from direct and indirect energy consumption. A focus on local purchasing can have a co-benefit of supporting local economic development.


  • Decreased upstream and downstream environmental impact
  • Generates a demand for green products and better business practices
  • Has potential to model to faculty, staff, and students sustainable purchasing practices


  • Limited suppliers that can immediately meet the demands of large campuses
  • Products may have a price premium that is in conflict with low-bid purchasing policies
  • GHG inventories don’t currently account for full cradle-to-grave emissions which limits measurable impacts
  • May be difficult to determine what the “greenest” purchasing decision is


  • GHG Impact


    Direct measurable impact will be small.

  • Economic Impact


    There can be cost-savings from centralized purchasing and cost-premiums for many products/services.

  • Feasibility

    Some Challenges

    Requires senior leadership support to update campus procurement policies.

  • Timeline

    1-2 years

    Developing policy, identifying suppliers and replacing existing contracts will take time.

  • Maintenance


    Managing supplier relationships in a low first-cost world will require persistence.

  • Publicity

    That's interesting

    Campus users may not notice without specific promotion.