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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from “How To Integrate Green into Acquisition” Webinar Training (12/19/2013)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from “How To Integrate Green into Acquisition” Webinar Training (12/19/2013)

Is the webinar, “How To Integrate Green into Acquisition”, required training?

You should refer to your agency’s or organization’s policies to determine whether this webinar or other green purchasing training is required.  GSA FAS employees were required to take the ‘Intro to Green Purchasing’ course on the GSA On-Line University (OLU).  The version on the Defense Acquisition University web site is a good alternative to the OLU course and is available to all agencies: FAC 028  GSA Schedules and Sustainable Acquisition.

What one green action can we do that will have the most impact?

There is no one action.  Conducting thorough market research can help you identify where you have the most significant opportunities to green your acquisition. Depending on where a facility is located, issues such as water usage, building insulation, and energy efficiency are important. Purchasing the range of green products designated in the federal program helps to create markets, sustain jobs, improve building and fleet energy efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Buying green also supports socio-economic goals such as buying from AbilityOne suppliers, small, minority, and women-owned businesses, and service disabled veterans.

Is the double sided paper clause a requirement even when quotes/offers are required to be submitted via email?

No. FAR 4.302(b) states, “When electronic commerce methods are not used, agencies share require contractors to submit paper documents...printed or copied double-sided….” So the clause is not required unless the contractor will be required to submit paper documents.

Does FAR Part 23 list the required Contract Clauses for Green Procurement?

FAR Part 23 identifies the applicable clauses and provisions and when they are required. The clause and provision language is found in FAR Part 52.

Our "green" products are alternatives to products that are frequently used, so ours are not yet specified. How does one get to the end user for informing about the new technology?

Federal buyers are encouraged to purchase environmentally preferable products and services even when they are not required by a federal environmental program.  GSA Interact includes a group Schedules Contractor Success - Marketing Matters designed to help Schedule contractors market to the federal government, which may help you increase awareness of green product alternatives.

In addition, GSA’s Vendor Support Center, https://vsc.gsa.gov/, provides lots of information about the Government Marketplace and Business Opportunities.

Does the GPC website provide sample evaluation factors we can use?

The services portion of the Green Procurement Compilation (GPC) web site identifies potential evaluation factors along with general guidance.  However, it does not include full language for evaluation factors intended to be used in a solicitation.  Users are encouraged to tailor solicitation language and evaluation factors to suit their individual acquisitions.

Could you add environmental studies as well?  Are there any conditions that apply when studies are being performed, and the manner with which the service is conducted?

At this time, there is no federal or third party standards for green or sustainable services. GSA is participating in the development of a third party standard by NSF International. In addition, GSA is including sustainability provisions, on a pilot basis, in some of its acquisitions. For example, the Connections II telecom contracts required contractors to submit a corporate sustainability plan and update it annually.

Do JWOD and UNICOR products take environmental considerations into account?

There are many products offered both by AbilityOne and UNICOR that meet green product requirements, such as recycled content paper or biobased cleaning products.

Are you aware of the sustainable SITES initiative for landscape architects?  Is this something that will be part of a requirement?

It is not currently a requirement. However, the Sustainable Facilities Tool provides information about SITES in the Solid Waste module of the Explore section, under Relevant Mandates and Rating Systems.

Other than energy programs, do you have any other recommendation for hardware procurements?

It is unclear whether this question referred to electronics hardware or to things like tools. Hardware is a broad category that includes paints and cleaning products. There are recycled content and biobased requirements for paint and several other products. Cleaning products can be formulated to meet EPA Design for the Environment requirements. In addition, federal agencies require products with no or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), primarily meeting requirements from the California Air Resources Board. Reducing toxic and hazardous constituents, to improve worker safety and reduce the generation of hazardous wastes, is another option. For example, Department of Defense facilities and others often us aqueous parts cleaners instead of solvent-based cleaning systems.

The Green Procurement Compilation includes green purchasing guidance on Electronic Leasing Services and the Federal Electronics Challenge addresses additional environmental considerations for electronics.  

Is stormwater management or green infrastructure going to be incorporated into this given the SWU implications?

The Sustainable Facilities Tool includes information about stormwater management, including current federal mandates, links to the Environmental Protection Agency’s stormwater page and the federal guidance for stormwater management, and links to other guidance, such as the federal guidelines for high performance and sustainable buildings.

I was wondering if you had any information on the SPF program and if there is any plan on restarting this program?

There are no plans to restart the Sustainability in Procurement Fellows program at this time.

Are there places where we can recycle all brands of toner cartridges in one box?  Most companies only want their own brands returned to them.

Toner cartridge remanufacturers generally accept all brands. GSA offers toner cartridge remanufacturing services through the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative for Office Supplies (FSSI OS2) and Multiple Award Schedule 75.

Is it the Building manager's responsibility to request that the sustainability or green requirements be put in our contracts? or is that the responsibility of the contract specialist/contracting officer?

It depends on what product is being purchased. Tenant agencies would be responsible for including requirements in purchases of products like furniture or office electronics or office paper. Tenants should ask building managers to include green requirements in purchases of other products, such as lighting.

If the question is more broadly who is responsible for requesting green products, the answer is both program staff (such as a building manager) and contracting staff (such as the specialist or CO) are responsible. If the program staff specify a green product requirement, then contracting staff should include that requirement. Contracting staff can also advise program staff about the requirements.

Are there 3rd party green certifiers (i.e., Environmental Choice, Green Seal, etc) whose products meet all/most federal green requirements (ie., EO 13514, EO 13423, etc)?

Yes. However, each individual standard must be reviewed to determine if it addresses the environmental attribute identified in the federal requirements. At this time, there is not a comprehensive list of which third party standards and labels incorporate federal requirements.

GSA collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies to develop guidance on using third party standards and labels. EPA posted the draft guidelines in the Federal Register on November 27, 2013, with public comments due by February 25, 2014. Once the comments have been reviewed and the final guidance issued, GSA will develop a strategy for using third party standards and labels.

I am a GSA Contractor that offers biobased lubricants on the GSA Advantage.  Can anyone honestly say that these agencies are buying biobased lubricants?  Can anyone tell me where there is proof that they are buying these recently?

According to data from GSA Advantage, agencies are purchasing biobased products, but we do not have a breakdown of sales by individual products.

With all the information out on the Intranet can I safely assume that the Green Procurement Compilation Website will cover most of my bases as far as Acquisition?

The Products section of the Green Procurement Compilation will help you to identify federal green purchasing requirements. The Services section will help you to identify what green product requirements should be included in a services acquisition for those services listed, as well as other suggestions for making your services acquisition more sustainable. Please note that agencies might have additional sustainability-related requirements.

How can I find what green products are required by agencies associated with DOE?

The Department of Energy is subject to the federal green purchasing requirements, which are summarized in the Green Procurement Compilation (GPC). In addition, DOE maintains a sustainable acquisition web page and now has an agency-specific page within the GPC.





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