Agencies told to go green on 95 percent of purchasing

The Obama administration's campaign to have agencies "lead by example" in sustainable purchasing became stricter this week when the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council released an interim rule on green procurement.

Following up on President Obama's 2009 executive order on green management, the draft published Tuesday in the Federal Register would require agencies "to leverage agency acquisitions to foster markets for sustainable technologies, materials, products and services."

It tasks the head of each agency with ensuring that 95 percent of new contract actions are for products and services that are energy efficient, water efficient, bio-based, environmentally preferable or non-ozone depleting, adhering to criteria set out by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department. With the exception of weapons systems, agencies also must aim to procure items that contain recycled content and are nontoxic.

The toughened policy is being spearheaded by the Defense Department, NASA and the General Services Administration. It requires all federal contractors to support the government's goals in environmental management, and includes new requirements for electronic or other paper-saving methods for submitting documents required by contracts.

"In the face of changing environmental circumstances and our nation's heightened energy demands, the federal government must lead by example to create a clean-energy economy that will increase prosperity, promote energy security, protect the interests of taxpayers and safeguard the health of our environment," the rule states.

Agencies have until Aug. 1 to submit comment.

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