Best Practices in Sustainable Procurement

Note: This was a post originally published on the PE Sustainability Blog.

Over the past 30 years, sustainable purchasing has evolved dramatically as early green procurement initiatives went from supporting simple pollution reduction measures to becoming a powerful mechanism to drive both organizational footprint reductions and bottom-line cost savings.

To understand best practices currently being applied within the field of sustainable procurement, PE INTERNATIONAL identified and conducted interviews with a number of leaders in sustainable procurement. Interviewees included governmental employees in various cities, as well as consultants and experts in the field. From this research, PE INTERNATIONAL was able to help the City and County of Denver formulate a procurement plan that bolstered its sustainability efforts.

What were some of the key findings?

  • Sustainable purchasing is not just about buying environmentally preferable products – engaging your staff, reducing costs, and improving business processes is part of a long-term investment in sustainable purchasing that will have a larger impact upon the organization and community.
  • Support program participants as much as possible– ensuring staff have access to the resources and information necessary to execute on the new requirements of your sustainable purchasing programs is critical to success.
  • Demonstrate the value of the initiative– documenting the business value of your efforts in case studies, reports, webinars, and other mediums will secure buy-in and ensure support for the program moving forward.
  • Develop an approach that works for you– there is no single approach to sustainable purchasing that works for every organization. Focus on your priority issues, create realistic and attainable goals, and devote resources for the initiative.
  • Utilize existing best practices and government standards instead of “recreating the wheel”- learn from and follow the leaders in the field who have already overcome common hurdles.