Higher Education Procurement Sustainability Checklist: Essential Items for a Sustainable Campus

Is your higher education institution meeting sustainability and environmental goals? How do you stack up against other colleges and universities? Are your sustainability goals producing demonstrable differences in waste reduction and environmental initiatives? You need to know the answers to these questions if you want to make sure you have the right sustainable procurement criteria in place to create a more sustainable campus.

One such method is The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) offered by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. This allows you to track and manage your sustainability efforts.

Whether you choose to use STARS or not, you can work toward improving your sustainability in procurement by making conscious choices about the goods and services you buy. We’ve put together this checklist to get you started.

Sustainability in Procurement Checklist

There are plenty of products that can help you meet your goals. While this list is not all-inclusive, here are ten key items that should be on your radar and fit your sustainable procurement criteria.

  1. Energy-efficient electronics and appliances: Replace outdated electronics and appliances with Energy Star-certified models, which consume less energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This includes computers, monitors, printers, refrigerators, and other office equipment.
  2. Sustainable office supplies: Opt for eco-friendly office supplies such as recycled paper, refillable pens, and are biodegradable or compostable products. Look for suppliers that offer sustainable packaging and delivery options.
  3. Green cleaning products: Choose environmentally-friendly cleaning products that are non-toxic, biodegradable, and free from harsh chemicals. These products are safer for custodial staff, students, and the environment.
  4. Renewable energy sources: Explore options for procuring renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, or purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) to support the development of clean energy.
  5. Recycled and recyclable furniture: When furnishing classrooms, offices, or common areas, prioritize furniture made from recycled materials or those that can be easily recycled or reused at the end of their lifespan.
  6. Sustainable food and catering services: Partner with local, organic, and sustainable food suppliers for campus dining halls and catering services. Prioritize plant-based options and minimize food waste through composting and donation programs.
  7. Sustainable transportation options: Encourage the use of public transportation, carpooling, or electric vehicles by procuring subsidized bus passes, installing electric vehicle charging stations, and promoting bike-sharing programs.
  8. Water conservation solutions: Implement water-saving solutions such as low-flow faucets, efficient irrigation systems, and rainwater harvesting systems to reduce water consumption and associated costs.
  9. Sustainable construction materials: For new construction or renovation projects, prioritize the procurement of sustainable building materials, such as recycled concrete, bamboo, or certified sustainable wood products and flooring.
  10. Waste management and recycling services: Collaborate with waste management companies that offer comprehensive recycling and composting services, ensuring that campus waste is properly sorted, recycled, and diverted from landfills.

Benefits Go Beyond Saving Money

Every year, higher education institutions in the U.S. spend more than $600 billion. Some academic institutions spend more than $1 billion annually by themselves. Even a percentage change to enhance your environmental impact makes a significant difference.

Higher education institutions typically see cost savings from including sustainability in procurement strategies, but the benefits go well beyond. Higher education institutions can commit to sustainable practices and reducing their carbon footprint. Such practices are increasingly important to meet sustainability initiatives and attract students. The majority of students believe their school needs to increase environmental protection efforts. Many say it’s a deciding factor in where they choose to enroll.

Procuring sustainable goods helps enhance your reputation as a socially and environmentally responsible institution, reducing waste and conserving natural resources. There are also considerable health benefits, such as increasing indoor air quality by reducing the use of toxic chemicals.

Adopting sustainability in procurement practices can help you prepare for future challenges. Supply chain challenges, for example, are less disruptive when you have invested in products that have longer lifecycles.

Leverage Cooperative Contracts

E&I Cooperative Services helps procurement teams manage the complexity and time required to source and select sustainable products and services. By leveraging the aggregate purchasing power of 6,000 member institutions, E&I’s cooperative contracts can produce significant cost savings compared to going it alone.

E&I Cooperative Services has competitively solicited contracts ready to use with industry-leading suppliers with a broad selection of products to improve sustainability on campus.

Contact E&I Cooperative Services today or view available contracts to accelerate campus sustainability in procurement.


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