Table of Contents
The NYU Environmental Purchasing Guide serves as a companion to the Sustainability Task Force's 2009 Environmental Purchasing Policy. It is designed to facilitate environmentally-responsible procurement decisions by decision-makers in administrative and academic departments across the university.
The Environmental Purchasing Guide is divided into thirteen categories of goods and services. These sections correspond to those within the Environmental Purchasing Policy. Each section of the Guide includes an description of the related Policy, ideas for waste-reducing alternatives, a discussion of issues to consider and what to look for when sourcing, and a list of possible vendors in the New York City metropolitan area.
This Guide was compiled by the Sustainability Task Force Food & Purchasing Working Group, and is not an official University document. The inclusion of specific vendors or brands in any section does not constitute an endorsement by either the Sustainability Task Force or by NYU.
Before making the decision to purchase a new product, purchasers are encouraged to repair, adapt, upgrade or retrofit existing products. It is always more sustainable to reduce and reuse before purchasing new products. For more information on Lifespan Analysis as a method of determining the sustainability of a product, click here.
What is Environmentally Friendly Purchasing?
Environmentally Friendly Purchasing refers to the practice of buying products with attributes that make their environmental impact less than that of comparable products, such as minimal packaging, reusability, energy efficiency, recycled content, and rebuilt or remanufactured products.
Purchasing decisions should be based on an evaluation of environmental criteria in addition to product performance, price and availability. Many environmental costs associated with the use of a product, such as production-related emissions or toxicity of disposal, are not factored into its purchase because they are "invisible" to the purchaser. By understanding all the hidden costs of a product, individuals are able to make decisions that not only incorporate performance standards but environmental concerns as well.
Additional Resources and Information
Appliances and Electronics
Commodity clusters under the Appliances and Electronics section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy include: Appliances, Miscellaneous Office Equipment, Computer Printers, Copiers, Fax Machines, Pagers/Beepers.
All appliances and electronic equipment are expected to have the US EPA ENERGY STAR of approval (a US EPA and Department of Energy label for energy efficient products that save money and cut greenhouse gas emissions). A list of ENERGY STAR approved appliances and electronics can be found in the Environmental Purchasing Policy.
When finding an ENERGY STAR labeled product is not feasible, an alternative third-party energy efficiency standard is desirable. If a certified product is unavailable, the purchaser must consider other criteria such as efficiency, durability, reusability and product composition.
The Purchasing Policy also recommends that all printers have auto-duplexing (double-sided) printing capabilities in addition to an ENERGY STAR label.
Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Purchasing This Product
Purchasers are encouraged to consider waste-reducing alternatives to buying new electronics and overusing appliances in order to limit carbon emissions, expense, and the proliferation of certain heavy metals and other inputs. Suggestions include:
Air Conditioners: It is best to try controlling the temperature in a room manually before turning on the air conditioner. Closing blinds prevents direct sunlight from heating rooms. Also, opening windows and doors can allow air to circulate and help cool down a room.
Dehumidifiers: Water accumulation at foundations and windows, leaking faucets and poor air circulation increase humidity within rooms and buildings. Finding ways to prevent water from accumulating, repairing faucets and improving air circulation are more efficient solutions to dehumidifying a room or building.
What to Consider When Purchasing Appliances and Electronics
ENERGY STAR Approval: Your top priority is to find appliances and electronics with ENEGRY STAR approval. ENERGY STAR approved products are considerably more energy efficient than products that are not approved, and save electricity use as well as money on energy bills. Remember to find copiers, fax machines and printers that are both ENERGY STAR approved and have double sided printing capabilities. If the ENERGY STAR approval is not applicable for a product that you are looking for, then give preference to products that have a third party energy efficiency certification. Ask a salesperson or provider about alternative certifications for energy efficiency.
EnergyGuide: The EnergyGuide label on an appliance displays the energy use of the product compared to similar units. This is a valuable information resource that can help purchasers compare models and choose the most efficient one.
Labels that Measure Efficiency: Some appliances and electronics are required to have labels displaying metrics that measure the products' efficiency. For instance, air conditioners are measured in SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio); the higher the SEER number, the more efficient the air conditioner. Look for such measurements of efficiency when shopping for all appliances and electronics. If you are unsure whether a certain product has such a measurement, ask a salesperson or provider.
Recycled Products: Look for products that contain recycled materials. The higher percentage of recycled materials they contain, the more sustainable the products are. If you are unsure about whether a product contains recycled materials, ask a salesperson or provider to find out for you.
Easy Disassembly: Appliances and electronics that are easily disassembled are better for the environment because they can be recycled more easily. Give preference to products that have easy disassembly.
Leasing and Take-back: Many stores and providers offer leasing and take-back options. When taken advantage of, these options reduce the amount of garbage thrown away and ensure that old appliances will be handled efficiently. Ask a salesperson or provider if they offer these options. Don't forget to ask them what they do with the products after they have been returned. Give preference to stores that repair, donate or recycle.
Durability: Products that don't need to be replaced frequently are better for the environment. When searching for appliances and electronics, give preference to products that last longer on average. Don't hesitate to ask for official documentation on the product to confirm its durability (and other characteristics).
Toxic constituents: Toxic chemicals and heavy metals in appliances and electronics are hazardous to human and environmental health when the products are discarded. Therefore, it is important to find products that do not contain toxic constituents when possible, and to be sure that e-waste is recycled effectively.
Cartridges: Look for printers and copiers containing ink cartridges that can be refilled and recycled.
Multifunctional Products: Sometimes it may not be necessary to purchase separate appliances or electronics. Instead, it can be cheaper and more environmentally sound to buy 2-in-1 products like televisions with DVD players and printers with copy and fax capabilities.
Packaging: Products with minimal packaging are healthier for the environment than products with intensive packaging. Give preference to products that have less packaging.
Televisions: Liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions are much more efficient than either cathode ray tube (CRT) or plasma televisions.
Size: In order to maximize the efficiency of appliances such as air conditioners and dehumidifiers, it's important to consider the size of the rooms where they will be placed. The size of the appliances should correspond to the size of the rooms in which they will be operating.
Donating/Recycling: Donating and recycling old appliances is a safe and healthy alternative to throwing them away. If old appliances or electronic equipment are still functional or easily repaired, consider donating them to a redistribution organization. If they are no longer functional and are beyond repair, send them to a recycler, who will salvage the reusable materials. Below is a list of recyclers and donation centers in the NYC area.
Placement: The placement of certain appliances within a room can also have environmental consequences. Refrigerators and air conditioning units, for instance, should not be exposed to direct sunlight, or placed adjacent to heat-producing units such as ovens. When they are, they require more energy to function properly. Dehumidifiers should be placed away from walls to achieve maximum efficiency.
Below is a list of appliance and electronics vendors in the NYU area that sell Energy Star Certified products. This is not a comprehensive list, and the Sustainability Task Force has not formally evaluated the vendors listed. However, based on thoughtful research, we believe that the following vendors are a good starting point for purchasers in search of sustainable products and services.
Books and Commercial Printing
The Books and Commercial Printing section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the following Purchasing Services commodity clusters: Books, Printing, Subscription, and Test Materials. Additionally, Printed Products include the printing of Books, Brochures, Mailings, Letters, Business cards, Flyers, and Event notices.
Purchasers are required to use a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled paper content for all printed products. Using recycled content paper impacts the pace climate change by contributing fundamentally to the slowing of deforestation. You can find more information on the benefits of purchasing recycled paper here.
Purchasers are strongly discouraged from using virgin paper—paper with no recycled content. Additionally, the Policy suggests that purchasers take the next step and use paper products with 100% post-consumer recycled content. Purchasers are also encouraged to procure and execute commercial printing jobs using paper that is unbleached or chlorine free, includes limited or biodegradable packaging, and uses soy-based ink.
Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Purchasing This Product
Purchasers should consider the use of paper-free alternatives such as electronic books (e-books), online invitations and event notices, and websites to advertise information. Additionally, Purchasers are encouraged to procure used books instead of buying new products. Libraries are excellent resources for borrowing books and other printed materials.
What to Consider When Purchasing Commercially Printed Products
Recycled content: While the University mandates a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled paper content, 100% post-consumer recycled content is preferable.
Waste reduction: By initially purchasing products with the least amount of non-recyclable packaging, the consumer can minimize the volume of waste in landfills; additional action can be taken to purchase printed products with biodegradable packaging.
Misconceptions: Take action against the following commonly held misconceptions about paper products: that virgin paper is of higher quality than recycled paper; that virgin is more available and less expensive; that recycled paper is not as bright as virgin paper; that recycled paper is more likely to jam printers or copy machines. In fact, there is no difference at all between virgin paper and recycled paper in terms of quality, and Supply Central offers free samples of recycled paper to any purchasers who still have their doubts.
Below is a list of vendors of books, commercial printing services and related products in the NYU area that offer sustainable options. This is not a comprehensive list, and the Sustainability Task Force has not formally evaluated the vendors listed. However, based on thoughtful research, we believe that the following vendors are a good starting point for purchasers in search of sustainable products and services.
Buildings and Maintenance
The policies for major building repairs and renovation projects are covered in the NYU Sustainable Design Standards Guidelines (DSG), created by the Office of Strategic Planning, Assessment, and Design in collaboration with Facilities and Construction Management. The Sustainable Design Standards Guidelines — not this Guide — are the primary reference for any large-scale building maintenance carried out by a third-party contractor.
The Buildings and Maintenance section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the commodity clusters of Woodwork/Lumber, Paint/Painting, Windows, Doors, Fences/Gates, Flooring, and Metal Maintenance. While the procurement of these goods tends to fall under the Design Standards Guidelines rather than the Environmental Purchasing Policy, there are actions individual academic departments can take to reduce the necessity for large-scale building overhauls and improve the environmental efficiency of their buildings.
What to Consider When Maintaining an Efficient Building
Awareness of possible problems: Periodic checks for window and wall leakage, which cause buildings to lose heat unnecessarily, can be done by individual academic departments, and will go a long way to increase building efficiency.
HVAC Settings: Find settings for HVAC that require minimal energy to maintain comfort. See the Appliances and Electronics section (Section 1) of this Guide for more information on how to do this.
Other Suggestions: The Sustainability Advocate Handbook contains many useful suggestions for academic departments looking to take small maintenance actions to increase their buildings' efficiency.
Additional Resources and Information
Food and Catering
The Food and Catering section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the following Purchasing Services commodity clusters: Bottled Water, Catering, Coffee Services, Food/Beverage, and Water.
According to the Policy, all coffee sourced is required to be Fair Trade certified. The Policy additionally recommends that all food procured — whether directly or through a caterer — be locally sourced, USDA Organic or Northeast Organic Farm Association certified, and/or Fair Trade certified whenever possible. Purchasers are also strongly encouraged to do business with caterers who take substantial steps to reduce their waste at events.
A sample list of suggested caterers currently offering sustainable food services in the NYU area is included at the end of this section.
Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Purchasing This Product
Bottled Water: If you are considering purchasing bottled water for events or meetings, explore the alternative of using reusable pitchers, glasses and tap water instead. For more information on the extremely high quality of New York City's tap water, consult the Water section (Section 13) of this Guide.
Excess Catered Food: Typically, there are fewer attendees than RSVP to an event, and caterers frequently overestimate the quantity of food required per person; the result can be quite a bit of left-over food. Use your discretion, but some departments have found it both cost-effective and waste-efficient to order for half of the number of RSVPs at events that aren't near mealtimes, and three-quarters of the RSVPs for events near mealtimes.
What to Consider When Procuring Food and Catering Services
Location and seasonality: Source food grown and processed as close to New York City as possible. If you are buying food directly, you can purchase from sources like farmers' markets and food co-ops to ensure that your ingredients are local and in season. If you are hiring a caterer, ask them about the origins of the food they serve. If they can't tell you, consider exploring other options.
Organic and Fair Trade Certification: USDA or NOFA Certified organic food, and food grown with minimal use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers, is better for both environmental and human health. When food must be sourced internationally, Fair Trade certification ensures it has been grown, processed, and traded with fair labor practices. When purchasing food directly, look for these certifications when possible. When hiring a caterer, ask them if they source any food that meets organic or Fair Trade criteria, and give preference to caterers who do.
Animal health and welfare standards: When sourcing animal-based foods and beverages, choose free-range and cage-free meats and poultry, and hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and dairy products. Look for these products when buying food directly; when hiring a caterer, ask them about their sourcing practices, and give preference to caterers who adhere to higher animal health and welfare standards.
Vegan and vegetarian options: Include vegan and vegetarian meal options when procuring food for catered events. These options are commonly requested, and tend to have a much lower environmental impact than dishes that include meat.
Waste: Events where food is served often generate a great deal of waste made up of disposable serving and packaging materials, as well as excess food. Use non-disposable flatware, cups and platters whenever possible. If these options are unavailable, use compostable or recyclable packaging and serving materials, but make sure you find a place to compost them. If you are hiring a caterer, ask them about their waste-reduction strategies, and work with them to procure as many reusable items as possible. In order to reduce the amount of food waste generated by an event, explore partnership with organizations like City Harvest, which will collect excess food for donation if it meets certain criteria; alternately, arrange to compost excess food. Caterers who prioritize sustainability may already have a mechanism in place for dealing with food waste in an environmentally responsible manner.
Documentation: When you're working with a caterer, make sure they know that sustainability is a priority to you, and don't be afraid to ask them to provide documentation of their sustainable practices! Displaying this information alongside catered food encourages sustainability awareness and environmentally responsible eating, and incentivizes caterers to increase sustainable practices and food choices.
Alternative menu options: Although it is always preferable to support a caterer who puts sustainable business practices at the forefront of its mission, sometimes it's simply not possible. For example, the Kimmel Center is currently contractually obligated to have all events catered by Aramark, but they do offer both an organic and sustainable menu. Many caterers who do not prioritize sustainability overall still provide alternative menus which are far more environmentally friendly than their standard fare, such as organic, local, or vegetarian menus.
Purchasing power: Conveying your strong preference for sustainable food choices and catering practices to caterers not currently offering those services can help shape future business practices, and protect your health and the environment.
The Interior Furnishings section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the following Purchasing Services commodity clusters: Carpeting, Furniture, Lockers/Shelving, and Personal Lighting.
According to the Policy, purchasers will replace incandescent light bulbs in personal task lighting (desk, floor lamps, etc.) with compact fluorescent bulbs. To see specifications, please refer to the policy. Purchasers are also strongly encouraged to procure Cradle-to-Cradle certified products and/or follow Scientific Certification Standards, and to follow the Green Label Indoor Air Quality Test Program for carpeting. Purchasers are directed to the EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for products that do not fall under other categories.
It should be noted that architects and other consultants must refer to New York University's Design Standards & Guidelines for information on NYU's requirements for materials, finishes and furniture. DSG supersede requirements in the Environmental Purchasing Policy. In addition, all furniture in public areas must comply with CAL-133, which is a composite test to evaluate fully assembled furniture systems on their combustibility performance.
Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Purchasing This Product
Purchasers should contact Purchasing Services to acquire previously used furnishings that meet departmental needs before procuring new goods. Purchasers should also strive to remanufacture or refurbish and repair existing products before purchasing new ones. Reuse is always the greenest and best policy when it comes to environmental friendly purchasing.
What to Consider When Procuring Interior Furnishings
Location: Try to source items manufactured and processed as close as possible to New York. Look on sellers' websites to find out where ma
terials are sourced, where items are manufactured and where items are stored. If this information is not readily available, request it from the vendor.
Cradle-to-Cradle Certified products: Cradle-to-Cradle certification evaluates components used in products and the production processes in order to maximize health, safety, effectiveness, and high quality reutilization over many product life cycles through a process of scientifically based peer review. You can find a list of Cradle-to-Cradle Certified products and materials here.
Scientific Certification Systems: To earn SCS certification, a product must adhere to several different secondary standards, including the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association Sustainability Standard (BIFMA SS), Floor Score, and the Forest Stewardship Council certification.
Waste: The NYU FY2007 Environmental Assessment states that thousands of potentially reusable furniture and office equipment items are discarded annually at NYU. Reusing items is environmentally preferable to purchasing new ones because it avoids the need for pollution-generating transport and disposal of solid waste. You can arrange with NYU Asset Management to store interior furnishing items, making them available for use by another NYU department. Alternatively, donate used items to a community organization.
Documentation: When working with a business claiming to sell products adhering to a certain standard, make sure those products are certified. Be wary of green-washing!
This section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the Purchasing Services Janitorial commodity cluster, setting guidelines for cleaning supplies and janitorial paper products. By choosing environmentally preferable cleaning supplies, purchasers can avoid contributing to toxic runoff and environmental health hazards; purchasing environmentally preferable paper products helps to minimize both deforestation and waste.
The Environmental Purchasing Policy states that all cleaning supplies should adhere to the Green Seal Enviromental Standard GS-37 for Institutional and Industrial Cleaners. Green Seal is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to setting environmental standards and certifying products to facilitate environmentally responsible decision-making by creating consumer awareness. Standard GS-37 states that cleaning products should be sufficiently effective without being toxic to human health or the aquatic environment.
In addition, purchasers are strongly encouraged to utilize efficient cleaning supplies that require minimal use, thereby reducing volume, waste, and cost, and to procure cleaning supplies that contain none of the toxins listed on the NYC Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Guide Toxic Constituent Target List. Finally, purchasers are encouraged to purchase cleaning supplies with bio-based solvents rather than petroleum-based materials.
Janitorial paper products should adhere to the Green Seal Environmental Standards GS-9 and GS-01 for Paper Towels and Napkins, and for Tissue Paper. These standards require that paper products be made from 100% recycled content, that bathroom tissue contain at least 20% post-consumer waste, and that paper towels contain at least 40% post-consumer waste.
Using energy-efficient air-dryers in bathrooms instead of paper towels presents a waste-reducing alternative to buying this product. The substantial amount of paper saved and the significant minimization of waste outweigh the consequences of increased energy usage.
What to Consider When Purchasing Janitorial Supplies
For cleaning supplies:
Toxins: As mentioned above, all cleaning supplies purchased should avoid the toxins listed on the NYC Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Guide Toxic Constitutent Target List. Some toxins commonly found in cleaning supplies are: heavy metals, such as lead and chromium; chlorinated hydrocarbons; Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), such as Benzene and Xylene; and Ozone-Depleting Compounds (ODCs), such as Carbon Tetrachlorid Chloroform. The Green Seal Standard GS-37 for Industrial Cleaners also limits the VOCs allowed in a product, and prohibits ODCs. Look for these toxins in the contents of any cleaning supplies you puchase, and avoid them whenever possible. Also, if you are not buying the cleaning products for your building, office, or department directly, but rather receiving them through a contract with an outside vendor, talk to that vendor about the types of cleaning supplies they use, and indicate your strong preference for environmentally preferable products.
For paper products:
Recycled content versus post-consumer waste: The Environmental Purchasing Policy requires that all paper products be made from 100% recycled content, with bathroom tissue containing at least 20% post-consumer waste, and paper towels containing at least 40% post-consumer waste. Post-consumer waste is one type of recycled content; the term refers specifically to waste that has come from a discarded end product that has already been used, rather than from industrial scrap or manufacturing waste.
For a comprehensive list of Green Seal certified cleaning products and their sources, visit this website. For a comprehensive list for Green Seal certified paper products and their sources, visit this one. It is likely that your current janitorial supply vendor already has sustainable product offerings — ask them whether they use products from the lists above, and indicate your preference for these products. If your current supplier does not have any sustainable offerings, the American Cleaning Services' Focus line of goods is an excellent option, as would many of the other companies listed on the above websites. You can find more information on the New York City-manufactured Focus line here.
Additional Resources and Information
Linens, Upholstery, and Textiles
The Linens and Upholstery section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the following Purchasing Services commodity clusters: Flags/Banners, Linens/Misc., and Uniforms.
Purchasers are encouraged to procure textiles made from organic fabrics including organic cotton, soybean, bamboo or hemp. Where organic textiles are not available, purchasers are encouraged to procure items made from recycled fabric, items made with plastic (PET) content, and/or items certified sustainable by the GreenGuard Environmental Institute and the California Gold Sustainable Carpet Standard. If possible, textiles should be certified organic and Fair Trade.
Purchasers should refer to the NYU Safety Policy Manual for mandatory instructions on fire safety requirements for interior finished materials.
Waste Reducing Alternatives
Reusing and refurbishing existing items is always the best policy choice.
What to Consider When Procuring Textiles
See the Interior Furnishings section of this Guide (Section 5) for more information about different types of certification for Linens, Upholstery, and Textiles.
Commercial Cotton: Purchasers should avoid conventional, industrially produced cotton, as it often contains pesticides, and its production is harmful to the environment.
Organic and Fair Trade Certification: Certified organic fibers, and fibers grown with minimal use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers, are better for both environmental and human health. When materials must be sourced internationally, Fair Trade certification ensures it has been grown, processed, and traded with fair labor practices. When purchasing fibers, look for these certifications. Purchasers should avoid products made in other countries if they are made without Fair Trade Certification.
Documentation: When you're working with a company, make sure they provide the proper certification for the standard they say they uphold.
The Office Supplies section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the following Purchasing Services commodity clusters: Miscellaneous Office Equipment, and Office Supplies. According to the Policy, purchasers must use remanufactured ink and toner cartridges for all printers and copiers. The Policy additionally recommends that all supplies bought via Staples I-buy be labeled "eco-easy."
Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Purchasing this Product
Often, departments order more office supplies than are actually needed. When purchasing office supplies, think carefully about whether the quantity you are ordering is necessary.
Use digital methods of communication whenever possible — scan documents instead of copying them, whether for your records or to send to someone else, and take, share, and read notes on the computer rather than on paper.
Write on scrap paper rather than new notepads whenever possible. Some offices have found it effective to have a place to collect all one-sided paper to be used as notepaper.
What to Consider when Purchasing Office Supplies
Energy efficiency: Any electronic office equipment should be certified energy efficient (see Section 1, Appliances and Electronics). Also, whenever possible, the manufacturing of the item should be conducted under energy efficient standards.
Composition: When purchasing office supplies, choose products that are made of non-toxic, recycled and recyclable materials. For paper products, the Chlorine Free Products Association (CFPA) is the standard to look for (for more information on sustainable paper products, see Section 9).
Durability: If an item is more durable, less waste is created, as that commodity will not have to be bought as often. Always look for more durable items with the longest guarantee possible.
Locally produced products: Whenever possible, procure locally produced products.
Packaging: Try to ensure before purchasing that the product will be delivered with only as much packaging as is absolutely necessary.
It is NYU policy that all office supplies be ordered through NYU Supply Central/Staples. According to the Staples Vice President of Environmental Affairs, Staples is committed to developing and enhancing economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable business. The Staples Eco-easy product list has a comprehensive offering of environmentally preferable office supplies, and can be accessed through i-Buy. For information on "eco-easy" products, visit Staples.com/
The Paper section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the following Purchasing Services commodity clusters: Advertising, Printing, and Signage.
It is mandated that purchasers procure a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled paper content for all uses of paper products, including but not limited to daily print jobs, flyers, letters, presentation outlines, and syllabi. Purchasers should not buy virgin paper, which is paper with no recycled content.
Additionally, the Policy suggests that purchasers take the next step and use paper products with 100% post-consumer recycled content. Purchasers are also encouraged to procure paper that is unbleached or chlorine free. The fibers of recycled paper products have been processed once, so manufacturing them conserves resources and generates less pollution; they also reduce solid waste because it diverts usable paper from the waste stream. View more information on the benefits of using recycled paper here.
Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Purchasing this Product
Purchasers should consider emailing letters to mailing list recipients, utilizing online invitations and event notices, posting articles and course related information on Blackboard, and reading documents on the computer instead of printing them out. Instead of making copies of a document, scan it into the computer and send it out to the recipients. Alternatives also include printing documents on both sides of the paper, formatting to print multiple pages per sheet, only printing as many sheets as necessary, revising on the computer before printing, and reusing scrap paper for informal documents.
What to Consider when Procuring Paper Products
Recycled content: While 30% post-consumer recycled paper content is what is mandated by the University, 100% post-consumer recycled content is preferable.
Misconceptions: The misconceptions that virgin paper is of higher quality than recycled paper, that virgin paper is more available and inexpensive, or that recycled paper is not as bright as virgin paper are false. In fact, there is no difference at all between virgin paper and recycled paper in terms of quality, and Supply Central offers free samples of recycled paper to any purchasers who still have doubts. The price difference is minimal and decreasing rapidly.
The Professional Services section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers a wide range of services falling under the Purchasing Services Professional Services commodity cluster, including carpet cleaning, carpet repair, clothes cleaning, janitorial, moving services, party rentals, pest control, and plumbing.
The Policy encourages purchasers to contract with service providers who are committed to minimizing their environmental impact, and emphasizes that, where applicable, repair of a product is always preferable to buying a new one. Purchasers should communicate frequently with providers, and make clear that they prioritize sustainability.
Because of the wide scope of this section of the Policy, this portion of the Guide will be divided by service type, rather than follow the structure of the rest of the Guide.
Carpet Cleaning and Janitorial Services
The Environmental Purchasing Policy for Carpet Cleaning and Janitorial Services requires that purchasers contract with cleaning service providers that minimize the use of chemicals and other toxins in their cleaning.
Every cleaning service provider contracted by an NYU purchaser should have a Building Specific Green Cleaning Plan as described by the Green Seal Standard GS-42 for Cleaning Services. The Plan must include a detailed description of the steps the cleaning service provider will take to protect environmental health and safety. Additionally, the Policy requires that cleaning service providers ensure that their staff is trained in site-specific product use procedures that will minimize risk to environmental and human health.
What to Consider when Contracting with Providers of Janitorial Services
Please see the Janitorial Supplies section (Section 6) of the Environmental Purchasing Guide for information on reducing the use of toxins in cleaning supplies.
Harvard Maintenance is the only New York cleaning service certified by Green Seal. They are in the NYU database.
CBS, NYU's principal cleaning service provider, has a GreenSafe program and a substantial number of greening practices. They use a number of Green Seal certified products, and take steps to protect environmental and human health. For more information, see this report on the CBS Greensafe program. Carlos Zafra, CBS' Senior District Manager, is knowledgeable about their environmental practices and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Resources and Information
Green Seal Standard GS-42 For Industrial Cleaning Services
Clothes Cleaning and Laundry
The Environmental Purchasing Policy requires that, whenever possible, purchasers contract with clothes cleaning services that use water as the main cleaning solvent, and when dry cleaning is necessary, that they avoid dry cleaners who use toxic solvents. The Policy also recommends that purchasers contract with cleaning services that use water-efficient front-loading washing machines, and give preference to wet cleaning over dry cleaning. When dry cleaning is necessary, the Policy recommends that purchasers seek out Liquid Carbon Dioxide Cleaning services.
What to Consider when Procuring Laundering Services
Dry Cleaning versus Wet Cleaning: Dry cleaning is done using a solvent other than water to dissolve dirt and stains. Often, the solvents used in conventional dry cleaning processes are highly toxic, so wet cleaning is environmentally preferable to dry cleaning whenever possible.
Solvents: Traditionally, the most common dry cleaning solvent has been perchloroethylene, or "perc," which is a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) and a known carcinogen. VOCs are carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature; they are a major source of indoor air pollution and are detrimental to both environmental and human health. Other toxic solvents commonly used in dry cleaning include D-5 or siloxane and hydrocarbon. Purchasers should absolutely avoid these solvents. Liquid carbon dioxide is the only acceptable dry cleaning solvent, as it does minimal harm to environmental and human health.
Washing Machines and Dryers
The Environmental Purchasing Policy mandates that all purchasers buy washing machines and dryers that are Energy Star certified for energy and water efficiency. They should also look for Ecologo certification on detergent and fabric softeners, which have fewer chemicals that damage environmental and human health.
Additionally, the Policy encourages purchasers to make every effort to procure front-loading washing machines and laundry products that are Design for the Environment certified. The EPA's DfE Industrial and Institutional Laundry Partnership works closely with manufacturers of commercial laundry products to develop safer, more sustainable detergents and cleaning systems. The EPA's criteria include lower toxicity, more rapid biodegradation, lower bioaccumulation potential, and fewer toxic byproducts.
Explanation of Environmental Purchasing Policy
Travel, whether by car, bus, airplane, or boat, or train produces carbon emissions, thereby contributing to climate change. The Travel section of the NYU Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the commodity clusters of Group Travel, Scholar Travel, Boat Charter, and Car Service, and suggests only that purchasers strive to include public transit and/or carpooling into short or long-distance travel. In this section of the Environmental Purchasing Guide, you will find some additional suggestions for reducing your environmental impact while traveling.
Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Travel
Teleconferencing: Often, NYU faculty and staff travel long distances to attend meetings or give presentations. Using teleconferencing or webinars instead is a cost-effective and convenient way to substantially reduce environmental impact. You can find more information on teleconferencing at megameeting.com.
Mass transit: When feasible, utilizing mass transit for long or short distance travel instead of chartering buses or car services is environmentally preferable and often cost-effective.
What to Consider when Traveling
Method of transportation: Not all methods of transportation have the same environmental impact – air travel produces far more carbon dioxide emissions than motor vehicle transportation, and motor vehicle transportation considerably more than train travel. For long distance travel, trains can be an excellent alternative to planes, and for short distance travel they are preferable to buses, wherever available.
Carbon offset credits: When air travel is absolutely necessary, purchasers should consider buying carbon offset credits for their travel from a service like carbonfund.org.
Type and size of vehicle: When hiring a car service or chartering a bus, look for companies that have low-emission vehicles. Also, make sure that you ask for a vehicle that meets your needs exactly – don't request a bus that seats thirty when you only expect twenty. The smaller the vehicle, the more efficient it tends to be.
The following vendors offer environmentally preferable Car Service in the New York area. This is not a comprehensive list, and the Sustainability Task Force has not formally evaluated the vendors listed. However, based on thoughtful research, we believe that the following vendors are a good starting point for purchasers in search of sustainable products and services.
For a list of green car and limo services in other cities, visit this website.
The Vehicles section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy pertains to the usage of Gasoline, Vehicles, and Car and Truck rentals.
According to the Policy, all purchased fuel and vehicle maintenance must be in line with Ecologo Standards. The Policy recommends that when purchasing a vehicle or truck, a US EPA Certified SmartWay vehicle is the most ecologically sound way to go. The Policy also recommends that in situations where cars or trucks are inappropriate choose the most fuel-efficient vehicle at hand and, if possible, use only Ecologo Certified products for the maintenance of the chosen vehicle.
Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Purchasing Vehicles
Minimize the purchase of private vehicles by using public transportation and car shares through companies like Zipcar. Purchase a used car (as long as it complies with Ecologo Standards).
What to Consider when Purchasing Vehicles
Co2 emission levels and type of vehicle technology: Different vehicle technologies have different environmental effects — be sure to know your options before making a decision. Some technologies include electric, hybrid, bio-diesel, ethanol, LPG, fuel cell, compressed natural gas, petrol, and diesel. Renewable technologies are most sustainable — whenever possible, avoid petrol and diesel.For more information about the environmental impact of the car of your choice, visit this EPA page.
Size of the car: Lighter usually have better fuel economy than heavier ones, so limit the size of the vehicle you select.
Your Sustainability Preferences: Often, rental companies try to persuade customers into purchasing special deals which offer cheaper or larger vehicles, yet do not comply with Ecologo standards. It is important that you request the vehicle of your choice and don't be afraid to pass up "special deals" that might not fit the environmental profile you are looking for. Ask specifically about their more sustainable options when procuring a car or truck, and let the company know that sustainability is important to your purchasing/renting decision.
Additional Resources and Information
Keys to Green: Enterprise, National, and Alamo offer Ford, Toyota and Saturn hybrids, as well as carbon offsets through TerraPass: $1.25 to offset the carbon emissions generated by their car rental). TerraPass applies the funds toward an emission offset project for clean energy (wind farm), farm power (methane digesters) or landfill methane capture.
Go Green, Save Green: The "Go Green, Save Green" hybrid search link on the Orbitz Web page lets you search specifically for hybrid rentals from Hertz, Avis, Budget, National, Alamo and Fox.
Environmental Driving Tips
- Lighten your load weight by not carrying unnecessary items. Remove excess weight from your trunk, and if you have a removable roof rack and aren't using it, take it off.
- Stick to the speed limits — driving at high speeds expends extra fuel.
- Drive smoothly, avoiding heavy accelerating and braking.
- When stationary for a long time, switch off the engine.
- Closing windows will make the car more efficient by being more aerodynamic.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated, as underinflated tires cause more resistance.
- If possible, carpool to reduce the number of cars on the road.
- nstalling diesel particulate traps on shuttle buses to significantly reduce particulate pollution.
- More tips for driving green...
The EPP section on water use includes the following commodity clusters: Bottled Water, and Water.
Bottled water contributes to the depletion of aquifers and groundwater resources, produces added plastic waste, threatens consumer health, and increases the potential for plastics to leech into groundwater. The sale of bottled water also artificially increases the global price of water, and shifts public attention away from efforts to protect our municipal water sources by giving the illusion of a safe alternative.
The Environmental Purchasing Policy states that every office that has a 5-gallon jug water dispenser must replace it with a water filter-cooler. In the additional resources section, the "So you want a water filter cooler...what is the next step?" document provides step-by-step information on the water filter-cooler contract, pricing, and installment process, as well as more information about why filter-coolers are environmentally preferable. Purchasers must also buy reusable water bottles for routine use instead of disposable water bottles, and that these bottles should be made out of stainless steel rather than aluminum or plastic.
Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Purchasing Bottled Water
We can't speak highly enough of New York City's tap water. New York boasts some of the cleanest municipal water in the world. In fact, most types of bottled water are not subject to the same standards as the water that comes from our taps.
Reusable water bottles are, in the long term, a waste-reducing alternative to purchasing disposable bottles. These stainless steel bottles must only be purchased once, and last a lifetime. Please see below for recommended vendors of water bottles.
What to Consider When Procuring Water
Bottled water and caterers: Refer to the Food and Catering section (Section 4) of this guide for recommendations pertaining to catered bottled water.
Need — Does your office need a filter cooler? Is there a sink conveniently available? Perhaps your co-workers are happy drinking tap water, which is environmentally preferable to and more cost-effective than purchasing a filter cooler.
Placement — Make sure you place your filter-cooler in an accessible location.
Availability and sourcing of re-usable water bottles:
Materials — Metal is preferable to plastic, but within metal bottles, stainless steel bottles are better than aluminum bottles. Also, pick seamless bottles, and, ideally, bottles made from recycled materials that are themselves recyclable.
Price — Water bottles vary in price depending on vendor and specs of bottle, as well as customization requests. Please refer to the information below on Ecousable and Pura, two companies who have worked with NYU, to obtain custom bulk pricing.
Other criteria — Personal preference differs over size of mouth, number of twists to remove the top of bottle, size of bottle, and color/logo on bottle. Remember that a bottle that will be used far into the future is better than a bottle which will not suit user's daily needs/style preferences and will therefore be disposed of sooner.
Get in touch
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions of vendors for inclusion in future versions of the Environmental Purchasing Guide, please contact us.