United States
                      Environmental Protection
                                 Office of Policy
November 2013
          Evaluation  of the
          Environmentally  Preferable
          Purchasing  Program
                                                                                November 2013
 Fact Sheet

For more information on
completed evaluations at
EPA or the Evaluation
Support Division, visit the
above link.
  •  EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program was established in 1993 by
     Executive Order 12873. It has been reaffirmed by subsequent Executive Orders, most
     recently Executive Order 13514, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and
     Economic Performance," in 2009. The program is administered by EPA's Office of
     Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT).
  •  The EPP Program aims to achieve significant reductions in the environmental footprint
     of federal purchasing and make the overall consumer marketplace more sustainable
     through federal leadership.
  •  EPP activities include spearheading or participating in the development of product and
     service standards, creating procurement guidance, sharing model contract language,
     and developing other tools to help buyers assess products and services.
  •  OPPT requested a program evaluation by EPA's Office of Policy to better understand
     EPP outcomes in terms of quantitative changes in spending on environmentally
     preferable products and services, resulting environmental  benefits, and  influence and
     utility of EPP activities and outputs, including changes since an EPP baseline qualitative
     assessment was conducted in 2001.
  •  The evaluation focused on EPP activities and outcomes in three sectors: electronics,
     building and construction products, and hospitality and travel services.

Evaluation Questions
  •  The evaluation explored 14 questions in the following areas:
       o   Changes in federal purchaser awareness and behavior toward environmentally
          preferable purchasing since the 2001 baseline assessment.
       o   Changes in the proportion of environmentally preferable products  and services
          purchased by federal agencies.
       o   Environmental benefits of federal green purchasing (e.g., reduced energy use and
          associated greenhouse gas emissions, and  reduced use of hazardous materials).
       o   Use of EPP Program outputs by federal agencies, including voluntary consensus
          standards, and the contribution of EPP activities to changes in federal green
       o   Effectiveness of the Federal Electronics Challenge (FEC).
       o   EPP Program outcomes beyond the federal realm, including marketplace
          acceptance of standards that EPP helped to develop.

Evaluation Methods
  •  Analyzed data on federal purchasing in general, and green purchasing in particular, as
     available from federal and non-federal sources, such as the Electronic Product
     Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) and the FEC.
  •  Conducted over 40 interviews with EPP management and staff, federal and non-federal
     purchasing and policy staff, stakeholders  involved in developing voluntary consensus
     standards, and hospitality and travel stakeholders.
  •  Conducted a federal purchaser survey on green purchasing behavior, attitudes, and
     awareness; approximately 2,500 purchasers completed the survey. Conducted statistical
     analyses comparing survey respondents with low and high EPP exposure.
  •  Conducted a "mini-market" analysis and case studies of manufacturers that sell certified
     products to the federal government.

Key Findings
  •   Federal green purchasing awareness and behavior have improved substantially since the 2001
      baseline assessment. Perceived quality problems with green products, a large concern in the 2001 study, is no
      longer a significant concern. Purchasers are more likely to view green purchasing criteria positively and as part of
      their responsibility. Nonetheless, environmentally preferable purchasing is still not routine. Perceptions of higher
      cost, lack of information, and unclear definition of "green" are barriers to environmentally preferable purchasing.
  •   Purchasing data is scarce, scattered, and inconsistent. There is no comprehensive and reliable source of
      federal green purchasing data; agency-specific data, including EPA's, is also limited. The electronics sector has
      relatively robust purchasing data, as both EPEAT and FEC carefully track federal and broader market purchasing.
  •   Direct use ofEPP Program outputs by federal purchasers is limited, but all EPP outputs tested in the
      survey were rated moderately or very helpful by a majority of purchasers who have used them. In
      general, higher  exposure to EPP outputs is statistically  associated with greener current purchasing behavior.
      However, purchasers rely more heavily on agency-specific purchasing policies in their purchasing decisions. The
      EPP Program is  designed to have an indirect influence on purchasers as agencies adopt contract language and
      integrate other  EPP outputs into agency-specific purchasing policies.
  •   Green voluntary consensus standards ha ve a dedicated following among federal buyers, but the
      reach of standards varies. A high percent of purchasers who regularly purchase building and construction
      standards look for standards that EPP helped to develop, but the EPEAT penetration  rate among federal buyers is
      only 33%. However, buyers who purchase EPEAT products tend to specify EPEAT for most applicable purchases.
  •   Beyond the federal realm, a wareness and use ofEPEA Tis widespread; carpet and furniture standards
      have good market penetration, but limited data  on actual purchases. The resilient  flooring (non-carpet)
      and gypsum board standards have had less widespread adoption by manufacturers, although the two largest U.S.
      gypsum board companies use the standard. Comprehensive data are not yet available for the green meetings and
      events standards. Absence of federal recognition of meeting and events standards is an obstacle to their use.
  •   Strong but indirect evidence suggests that FEC partners purchased EPEA T electronics at higher rates
      than the rest of the federal government, at  least during the early years of the EPEAT program.
  •   En vironmental benefits appear significant for electronics, but are hard to quantify elsewhere due both
      to the  absence of reliable sales data and the lack of broadly-accepted environmental calculators.

  •   If EPA's draft guidelines for evaluating environmental standards and eco-labels move ahead, EPP should develop
      and execute a promotion campaign for standards meeting the guidelines. If not, EPP should focus more narrowly
      on product categories that have a consumer audience and other factors contributing to market success.
  •   Continue to remain engaged with standards that  EPP has worked on to date, to ensure that environmental
      considerations are addressed as standards are revised.
  •   Work with the General Services Administration (GSA), Council on Environmental Quality, Office of the Federal
      Environmental Executive, and other relevant agencies to advocate for including standards meeting the draft
      guidelines in the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
  •   Continue to work to include building and construction standards in GSA Schedules and in the U.S. Green Building
      Council's LEED family of standards.
  •   Review purchasing policies of other agencies for consistency with EPP guidance.
  •   Explore development of environmental calculators in other areas, such as building and construction  products and
      travel and hospitality services.
  •   Partner with EPA's Office of Administration and Resources Management to collect better green purchasing data
      within  EPA. Engage in an active dialogue with GSA on options for improving government-wide data collection on
      green  purchases.

      Yvonne M. Watson, EPA Evaluation Support Division, watson.wonne@epa.QOv
      David Sarokin, EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, sarokin.david@epa.gov

Report Link: http://www.epa.gov/evaluate/

Date Completed: November 2013