Sustainable Acquisition

As outlined in Executive Order (EO) 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, the goal of sustainable acquisition is to promote sustainable acquisition and procurement and is managed by:

  • Ensuring that environmental performance and sustainability factors are included to the maximum extent practicable for all applicable procurements in the planning, award, and execution phases of the acquisition.
  • Meeting statutory mandates that require purchase preference for:
    • Recycled content products designated by EPA.
    • Energy and water efficient products and services, such as ENERGY STAR qualified and Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)-designated products, identified by EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE).
    • BioPreferred and biobased designated products designated by the United States Department of Agriculture;
  • Purchasing sustainable products and services identified by EPA programs including:
    • Significant New Alternative Policy (SNAP) chemicals or other alternatives to ozone-depleting substances and high global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons, where feasible, as identified by SNAP;
    • WaterSense certified products and services (water efficient products).
  • Safer Choice labeled products (chemically intensive products that contain safer ingredients)
    • SmartWay Transport partners and SmartWay products (fuel efficient products and services);
  • Purchasing environmentally preferable products or services that:
    • Meet or exceed specifications, standards, or labels recommended by EPA
    • Meet environmental performance criteria developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies consistent with section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (Public Law 104–113) and OMB Circular A–119;
  • Implementing planning requirements until at least 95 percent compliance with the bioPreferred and biobased purchasing requirement
  • Reducing copier and printing paper use and acquiring uncoated printing and writing paper containing at least 30 percent postconsumer recycled content or higher.

To demonstrate progress in sustainable acquisition and overall sustainability, NIH publishes an annual Sustainability Implementation Plan (SIP) and reports progress to their parent government agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS adheres to the requirements in Section 14 of EO 13693 and publishes an annual Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan to demonstrate overall agency progress.

Sustainable Acquisition at NIH

NIH continues to meet the 95% goal of sustainable acquisitions. As part of the NIH’s ongoing support of this program, the NIH Green Procurement Manager continued a number of initiative including coordinating with the relevant NIH operations offices (e.g. the Blanket Purchasing Agreement Program, the NIH Government-wide Acquisition Contracts, NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center, etc.) to ensure compliance with all Sourcing Initiatives.

NIH maintains a robust document generating system (DGS) for the agency acquisition community that includes the relevant FAR sustainability clauses. The DGS is updated on a regular basis to ensure that biobased and other sustainability clauses are included in all applicable acquisitions. An NIH Acquisition Career Manager (ACM) has been appointed and is coordinating training with the NIH Green Procurement Manager.

Progress toward Sustainable Acquisition Goal

E.O. 13514 required agencies to advance sustainable acquisition and ensure that 95 percent of applicable new contract actions meet federal mandates for acquiring products that are energy efficient, water efficient, biobased, environmentally preferable, non-ozone depleting, recycled content, or are non-toxic or less toxic alternatives, where these products meet performance requirements. To monitor performance, NIH performs quarterly reviews of at least 5 percent of applicable new contract actions to determine if sustainable acquisition requirements are included.

E.O. 13693 section 3(i) requires that NIH promote sustainable acquisition by ensuring that environmental performance and sustainability factors are considered to the maximum extent practicable for all applicable procurements in the planning, award and execution phases of acquisition.

Biobased Purchasing Targets

The Agricultural Act of 2014 requires NIH to establish a targeted biobased-only procurement requirement. E.O. 13693 section 3(iv) requires establishing an annual target for increasing the number of contracts to be awarded with biopreferred and biobased criteria and the dollar value of biopreferred and biobased products to be delivered and reported under those contracts in the following fiscal year.

NIH includes criteria for biobased products in applicable contracts (e.g. for janitorial, landscaping, and cafeteria services as well as for construction and animal husbandry). NIH will strive to identify opportunities in any future acquisitions. Given that the majority of NIH contracting is in research and development, it is not feasible at this time to identify particular additional contracts (or dollar amounts) for an increase in biobased purchases

NIH Sustainable Acquistion Strategies

Advancing Sustainable Acquisition initiatives at NIH is a priority. The Substances of Concern (SoC) reduction program continues to grow in scope and awareness through implementation projects, tools and applications, e.g. No Chemicals Down the Drain.

Key strategies to grow the NIH Sustainable Acquisition program are outlined below, with additional guidance available through the Green Purchasing Program:

  • Establish and implement policies to meet statutory mandates requiring purchasing preference for recycled content products, ENERGY STAR qualified and FEMP-designated products, and Biopreferred and biobased products designated by USDA.
  • Establish and implement policies to purchase sustainable products and services identified by EPA programs, including SNAP, WaterSense, Safer Choice, and Smart Way.
  • Establish and implement policies to purchase environmentally preferable products and services that meet or exceed specifications, standards, or labels recommended by EPA.
  • Use Category Management Initiatives and government-wide acquisition vehicles that already include sustainable acquisition criteria.
  • Ensure contractors submit timely annual reports of their BioPreferred and biobased purchases.
  • Reduce copier and printing paper use and acquiring uncoated printing and writing paper containing at least 30 percent postconsumer recycled content or higher.
  • Identify and implement corrective actions to address barriers to increasing sustainable acquisitions.
  • Improve quality of data and tracking of sustainable acquisition through the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS).
  • Incorporate compliance with contract sustainability requirements into procedures for monitoring contractor past performance and report on contractor compliance in performance reviews.
  • Review and update agency specifications to include and encourage products that meet sustainable acquisition criteria.
  • Identify opportunities to reduce supply chain emissions and incorporate criteria or contractor requirements into procurements.

​​​Click here to view the 2019 NIH Sustainability Implementation Plan

Click here to view the NIH Sustainability Goal PoC list​​​​​