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Green Purchasing Benefits

Buying green products and services can increase your organization’s efficiency, enhance its public image, and is an excellent way to reduce your operations’ impact on the environment. Specific benefits include:

Financial savings

Green purchasing can have a big impact on your organization’s bottom line. Hundreds of environmentally preferable products - from office paper to janitorial cleaners, electronics, transportation and landscaping products - are competitive in terms of quality, while costing the same or even less than comparable conventional alternatives, over the life of the product. Many of these products also use less energy, water, fuel and other resources, saving additional money. Since environmentally preferable products are designed to generate little or no waste, they help reduce or eliminate the cost of waste and/or hazardous material management. For real-world examples of how green purchasing can save money, click here.

Positive PR

Organizations with a positive public image, brand and goodwill fare better in the marketplace than those without. As sustainable operations become more important in the public’s eye, implementing a green purchasing policy can go a long way for positive PR as it is good business practice.

Improved employee health

Your staff and the communities in the vicinity of your operations benefit from green purchasing practices through cleaner air and water. In turn, this helps you avoid costs related to worker health and safety, and can lower environmental risk costs.

Environmental and climate protection benefits

Green purchasing practices can reduce solid waste, conserve water and protect natural resources. They can also help alleviate climate change. For example, purchasing just 6 cases of 100% postconsumer recycled content copy paper instead of virgin (non-recycled) paper eliminates one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), an amount equal to the emissions from burning 102 gallons of gasoline.
Manufacturing, distribution and disposal of goods and materials is responsible for 43% of US greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. EPA. Green purchasing can help significantly reduce these emissions.

Saving with green purchasing: Real-world examples

Alameda County General Services Agency 

This County Agency installed 2.31 megawatts in photovoltaic systems, which--combined with retrofits--save taxpayers $4 million a year from reduced operating costs. They also switched to a new office paper supplier and now purchase 30% recycled content instead of virgin paper (non-recycled) while cutting costs by 20%.

The City of Palo Alto

The City wanted to install LED (light-emitting diode) semiconductor technology to produce street lighting. They developed a Return on Investment (ROI) tool with Stanford University students to determine if the high initial cost for fixtures would pay back in energy savings, reduced maintenance costs, greenhouse gas emissions and mercury/hazardous waste disposal. A $1.3 million ROI was estimated on just 70W LED street lighting inventory (45% of total inventory of various wattage lights).

The City of Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa piloted their environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) program with the City Garage. They replaced the transmission lubricant in use with an environmentally preferable synthetic version. The auto transmission fluid is now changing less frequently saving the city about $25,000 per year in labor costs.

Related resources:

Fact sheets, guides and model policy:   Learn about green products, find local suppliers, or download a template of a model purchasing policy.
Web resources:  Explore our extensive annotated list of green purchasing related websites.
FAQ’s:   Browse common questions about green purchasing.