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Green purchasing toolkit helps counties save dollars, environment

November 01, 2011

Source: NACo

Green purchasing toolkit helps counties save dollars, environment 

By Charles Taylor

NACo has a new way to help counties save greenbacks when buying “green.”

It’s called the County Green Purchasing Toolkit, an interactive Web-based resource that shares innovative county best practices with other local governments nationwide to help them save money while buying more environmentally preferable products ( ).

The toolkit was developed in partnership with several leaders in green purchasing — including U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance, the Responsible Purchasing Network and Green Seal.

“NACo is pinpointing effective strategies to help counties save money and become more sustainable,” said Gregg Goslin, Cook County, Ill. commissioner, who chairs NACo’s Green Government Initiative. “County innovators are redefining sustainability — taking it from a philanthropic venture to a sound investment strategy. We’re looking forward to utilizing this toolkit to help counties protect resources and save taxpayer dollars.”

Through the toolkit, county leaders can learn from county successes in finding green products, setting goals, developing effective policies, and educating staff and community members about how to save money while purchasing green.

Responsible Purchasing Network Director Alicia Culver said that “by purchasing energy-efficient office equipment, fuel-efficient vehicles and water-efficient fixtures, counties across the U.S. are saving thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars, which we all know is critically important in this era of budget deficits.”

NACo and its green purchasing partners believe that when buying products with reduced environmental impacts, it’s unacceptable to compromise on quality and cost.

 “Cooperative purchasing is a highly effective strategy for procurement professionals to more easily access green product lines,” said Jennifer Sulentic, program manager with U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance.

The County Green Purchasing Toolkit highlights case studies that illustrate how counties are already purchasing green products and saving money through lower up-front costs, reduced operating costs, and avoiding substantial costs associated with hazardous material disposal.

It features sections on Getting Started, Finding Green Products, Tools and Resources, Model Processes, and Success Stories. The latter category includes highlights from programs and policies such as those in Georgia, Washington and Virginia, summarized below.


Cobb County Adopts Lifecycle Cost Analysis Policy for Fleet Maintenance

In 2008, Cobb County, Ga. adopted a Lifecycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) Policy, which established a methodology to determine the total cost of ownership of products during the bid-selection process for new vehicles. The policy’s intent was to set up a process to examine county purchases based on long-term value, rather than simply up-front cost.

King County Inspires Staff to Find Environmentally Preferred Solutions 

The original impetus for green purchasing in King County, Wash. came in the 1980s from the County’s Solid Waste Division. Waste haulers were overburdened with an increase in collected recyclables after the county adopted more stringent recycling regulations and experienced difficulty with finding markets for these items.

Loudoun County Is a Pioneer in Solar Lighting Purchase

Loudoun County, Va. purchased solar lighting for a project using Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funding. Loudoun’s energy specialist worked through a product distributor to obtain information for several products and shape product specification for a bidding process.

Arthur Weissman is president and CEO of Green Seal, Inc., a toolkit partner. He said the resource will “greatly assist” the nation’s counties in finding more sustainable products, resulting in healthier and sustainable communities.

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