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ORF Home > Environmental Protection > Green Purchasing

Green Purchasing

On this page:

What is environmentally preferable (green) purchasing?
Why is green purchasing so important at NIH?
What types of acquisitions need to be "green"?
What products are subject to mandatory EPP requirements and where can we find additional information on these?



   Frequently Asked Questions

   Laws, resources, and references


What is environmentally preferable (green) purchasing?

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP), often referred to as “green purchasing,“ is the affirmative selection and acquisition of products and services that most effectively minimize negative environmental impacts over their life cycle of manufacturing, transportation, use and recycling or disposal. Examples of environmentally preferable characteristics include products and services that conserve energy and water, minimize generation of waste and releases of pollutants; products made from recycled materials and that can be reused or recycled; energy from renewable resources such as biobased fuels, solar and wind power; alternate fuel vehicles; and products using alternatives to hazardous or toxic chemicals, radioactive materials and biohazardous agents.

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Why is green purchasing so important at NIH?

The NIH directly spends billions of dollars on goods and services. Its contractors and grantees spend even more. On a larger scale the Federal government spends more than $200 billion on goods and services each year. Both the Congress and the President have directed Federal Agencies to be good stewards of the environment by preventing pollution and conserving energy and natural resources. The laws, regulations and executive orders they have issued relating to environmentally preferable purchasing affirm their recognition of the critical importance of “greening” the Federal procurement process to meet and lead the Nation’s environmental stewardship goals.

Buying green helps to:

  • Improve safety and health of our patients, workers and the public
  • Reduce pollution Conserve natural resources and energy
  • Develop new, more environmentally friendly products
  • Stimulate new markets for recycled materials and create jobs Improve awareness of environmental stewardship
  • Protect the research mission
  • Provide potential cost savings
  • Reduce liabilities
  • Comply with environmental laws and regulations

As a world leader in biomedical research and a major purchaser of related supplies and services, the NIH is in a unique position to foster research and development of environmentally friendly products for use in scientific and medical applications. If applied to the much larger national health care enterprise, these innovations may have significant long term, positive impacts on the national or global environment.

The Division of Environmental Protection encourages all NIH components to “buy green.” Here we answer some common questions about environmentally preferable procurement and provide resources and references to assist procurement officials in EPP.

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What types of acquisitions need to be green?


EPP requirements pertain to all purchases of products and services made with Federal funds, including:

  • By Federal agencies and their contractors.
  • Large purchases, simplified acquisitions, and micro-purchases including those made by Federal purchase cardholders.
  • Direct purchases of products and indirect purchases of products obtained through service contracts.

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What products are subject to mandatory EPP requirements and where can we find additional information on these?


The products currently subject to mandatory EPP requirements are listed below along with links to the latest information resources. Additional products will be added to this list as EPA designates them.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Biobased Products


Energy Efficient Products


Non-ozone Depleting Substances.


Recycled Content Products

[EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) Items]


Items on this list must be composed of the highest percentage of recovered materials practicable.

  1. Construction Products
  • Building insulation products
  • Carpet backing (Proposed CPG)
  • Carpet cushion (Proposed CPG)
  • Cement and concrete containing:
    • Coal fly ash
    • Ground granulated blast furnace slag
  • Consolidated and reprocessed latex paint
  • Flowable fill (Proposed CPG) Polyester Carpet
  • Floor tiles
  • Laminated paperboard
  • Patio blocks
  • Railroad grade crossings/surfaces (Proposed CPG)
  • Shower and restroom dividers/partitions
  • Structural fiberboard
  1. Landscaping 
  • Food waste compost (Proposed CPG)
  • Garden and soaker hoses
  • Hydraulic mulch
  • Landscaping timbers and posts (plastic lumber) (Proposed CPG)
  • Lawn and garden edging
  • Yard trimmings compost
  1. Nonpaper Office Products
  • Binders (paper, plastic covered)
  • Office recycling containers
  • Office waste receptacles
  • Plastic binders (solid) (Proposed CPG)
  • Plastic clipboards (Proposed CPG)
  • Plastic clip portfolios (Proposed CPG)
  • Plastic desktop accessories
  • Plastic envelopes
  • Plastic file folders (Proposed CPG)
  • Plastic presentation folders (Proposed CPG)
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Printer ribbons
  • Toner cartridges
  1. Paper and Paper Products 
  • Commercial/industrial sanitary tissue products
  • Miscellaneous papers
  • Newsprint
  • Paperboard and packaging products
  • Printing and writing papers
  1. Park and Recreation Products
  • Plastic fencing
  • Playground surfaces
  • Running tracks
  • Park and recreational furniture (Proposed CPG)
  • Playground equipment (Proposed CPG)
  1. Transportation Products
  • Channelizers
  • Delineators
  • Flexible delineators
  • Parking stops
  • Traffic barricades
  • Traffic cones
  1. Vehicular Products
  • Engine coolants
  • Re-refined lubricating oils
  • Retread tires
  1. Miscellaneous Products 
  • Awards and plaques (Proposed CPG)
  • Industrial drums (Proposed CPG)
  • Mats (Proposed CPG)
  • Pallets
  • Signage (Proposed CPG)
  • Sorbents (Proposed CPG)
  • Strapping and stretch wrap (Proposed CPG)
  1. Standby Power Devices 

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This page was last updated on Mar 03, 2021