Green Purchasing Guidance for Vendors and Contractors

We use our purchasing power to "walk our talk." As a model to citizens and other government or business entities, the City often seeks products or services that are:

  • Recent introductions to the marketplace, which may need a pilot or testing period. This includes products where the efficacy or benefits may not yet be proven or widely adopted.
  • Less established in the marketplace, where consumer or other corporate demand has not been sufficiently large to drive the marketplace forward and/or make it independently sustainable.

The City's commitment to the green product line will increase the market demand sufficiently to make the product viable, for both the consumer market as well as the commercial or government market. Specific examples have included FSC-Certified lumber, energy-efficient compact-fluorescent and LED lights, low-flow WaterSense-certified showerheads, and 100%-post-consumer-waste recycled paper products.

For these purposes, City of Seattle solicitations and contracts include both "boilerplate" standard language for all vendors and language specific to a product or project. You can find boilerplate language in current contracts using our online blanket contract search tool.

Examples of boilerplate language detailing certain environmental requirements for all vendors include:

  • No idling of vehicles.
  • Use of high-recycled-content paper printed on both sides.
  • Avoiding extra covers or dividers in proposals.

Other environmental provisions are standard in particular types of contracts. For example:

  • Use of compost and soil products containing compost.
  • Recycling of numerous materials.
  • Vendor take-back of excess and/or spent products.

Besides boilerplate language, many specific criteria and requirements are incorporated into Invitations to Bid and Requests for Proposal, and resulting contracts. We give particular attention to reducing toxics, requiring waste-reduction and recycling, and choosing high-standard energy and water-conserving equipment and processes. Some prime examples include:

  • "First Choice" paint and office supplies – vendors are required to offer green products first, per criteria described in the contracts. For paint, First Choice products must meet the Master Painters Institute (MPI) Standard.
  • Green Janitorial products and services – less-toxic products especially meeting eco-certifications such as Green Seal and EPA Design-for-Environment; listed substances are prohibited. Packaging and waste-reduction in dispensing, plus vendors provide training in proper use.
  • 100% post-consumer-recycled-content white paper for both City office use and in printing/copying services.
  • EPEAT and Energy-Forward-certified computer equipment (desktops, laptops, monitors).
  • Rebuilt office furnishings such as partitions, file cabinets and others.
  • Re-refined motor oil; vegetable-based lubricants for hydraulic fluid, bar-and-chain oil, etc.; plug-in electric, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.

Third-Party Certification

City Departments and City Purchasing shall apply the most stringent third-party label standard available for a product or service being acquired. The City shall use independent, third-party social and/or environmental (eco) product or service label certifications when writing specifications for, or procuring materials, products or services, whenever a responsible label standard is available. Qualifying labels shall be:

  • Developed and awarded by an impartial third-party.
  • Developed in a public, transparent and broad stakeholder process.
  • Represent specific and meaningful leadership criteria for that product or service category.

In addition, whenever possible, label standards used in product or service specifications should represent standards that take into account multiple attributes and life-cycle considerations, with claims verified by an independent third party.