1) Aug 1 [press release] -- Biden-Harris Administration Announces Plan to Maximize Purchases of Sustainable Products and Services as Part of the President’s Investing in America Agenda
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its latest step to leverage the Federal Government’s procurement power to create good-paying union jobs, advance American innovation, and build sustainable Federal supply chains. The proposed Sustainable Products and Services procurement rule will help achieve President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions from Federal procurement by 2050 by modernizing existing sustainable purchasing standards to help ensure the world’s single largest purchaser prioritizes American-made sustainable products and services. . . .
The Sustainable Products and Services procurement rule, a proposal through the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council, strengthens existing sustainable products requirements by directing Federal buyers to purchase sustainable products and services to the maximum extent possible. In particular, it directs agencies to follow EPA’s Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing, which provides recommendations across 34 purchase categories for use of 40 standards and labels, including labels such as EPA’s ENERGY STAR, Safer Choice, and WaterSense programs. The proposal also protects public health by directing agencies to avoid the procurement of products containing perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals, known as “forever chemicals.”
EPA’s Federal Purchasing Recommendations include thousands of American-made products and services that address energy or water efficiency, PFAS reduction or elimination, bio-based content, recycled content, ozone-safe substances, and more. In 2021 alone, the Federal Government’s purchase of more than 43 million EPEAT-registered electronics is estimated to have saved taxpayers around $2 billion in energy costs over the lifetime of those products. Further, these EPEAT-certified purchases avoided carbon emissions equal to those produced to power over four million households annually, as compared to purchase of non-EPEAT registered electronics.
In conjunction with today’s action, EPA announced it will perform an assessment of labels and standards and potentially expand its Federal Purchasing Recommendations across the following existing and new purchase categories: healthcare, laboratories, professional services, food service ware, and uniforms and clothing. . . .
Today’s action is a part of President Biden’s Federal Sustainability Plan, which set a goal to achieve net-zero emissions from Federal procurement by 2050. The Federal Government spends more than $630 billion on products and services annually, and over one third of existing Federal contracts contain a sustainable purchasing requirement. By increasing the purchase of sustainable products and services, the Biden-Harris Administration is working to reduce the emissions associated with the Federal supply chain, which are estimated to be more than twice as large as the emissions from operating the Federal Government’s buildings and vehicles combined. . . .
From spurring the market for recycled paper in the 1970s to making ENERGY STAR a household name, for over 50 years the Federal Government has played a leading role in promoting innovation, creating jobs, reducing emissions, and shaping markets through its sustainable purchasing requirements.
U.S. sustainability purchasing requirements are considered world class, often serving as a model by other large organizations. The United Nations Environment Programme recently categorized the U.S. Government’s implementation of sustainable public procurement policies and practices as “the highest possible status to achieve,” noting that the United States as the only country ever to achieve this status.
2) Aug 3 -- The Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are proposing to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to restructure and update the regulations to focus on current environmental and sustainability matters and to implement a requirement for agencies to procure sustainable products and services to the maximum extent practicable. Interested parties should submit written comments to the Regulatory Secretariat Division at the address shown below on or before October 2, 2023, to be considered in the formation of the final rule.
DoD, GSA, and NASA are proposing to amend the FAR to restructure and update FAR part 23 to focus on current environmental and sustainability matters and to implement a requirement for agencies to procure sustainable products and services to the maximum extent practicable. On December 8, 2021, the President signed Executive Order (E.O.) 14057, Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability. Section 208(a) directs agencies to reduce emissions, promote environmental stewardship, support resilient supply chains, drive innovation, incentivize markets for sustainable products and services, purchase sustainable products and services in accordance with relevant statutory requirements, and, to the maximum extent practicable, purchase sustainable products and services identified or recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Executive Office of the President's Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and Climate Policy Office jointly issued Memorandum M–22–06 on the same date to provide direction for agency compliance with the E.O. Paragraph G of section I of the memorandum reiterates the requirement to purchase, to the maximum extent practicable and after meeting statutory mandates, sustainable products and services identified or recommended by EPA. The relevant purchasing requirements established by statute, as indicated in that memorandum, are for the following types of products:
-- Products containing recovered material identified by EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guideline Program;
-- Biobased products in categories designated by the Department of Agriculture (USDA);
-- Energy efficient products certified by ENERGY STAR® and energy and water efficient products designated by the Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program (DOE–FEMP); and
-- Products made with or containing acceptable alternatives to ozone-depleting substances listed by EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program.
These statutory purchasing programs are currently implemented in FAR part 23, especially in subparts 23.2, 23.4, and 23.8.
The required EPA programs, as listed in Memorandum M–22–06, that identify sustainable products and services include: WaterSense®; Safer Choice; SmartWay Transport partners and SmartWay products; and EPA Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing. The requirement to procure these types of environmentally preferable products and services are currently implemented at FAR subpart 23.7. Paragraph (b)(1) of FAR section 23.703 directs agencies to employ acquisition strategies that maximize the utilization of environmentally preferable products and services (based on EPA-issued guidance). This subpart also currently includes the requirement to procure environmentally preferable products and Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT®)-registered products, which are examples of EPA Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing.
In August 2022, CEQ issued Implementing Instructions for E.O. 14057. Section 4.6 of the instructions reiterates the requirement to first ensure compliance with statutory purchasing programs and then ensure procurement of products and services identified by the required EPA programs in all contract actions and purchases. It also directed prioritization of multi-attribute products and services that meet at least one statutory purchasing program and one or more of the non-statutory EPA programs. The instructions also delineate when it is considered not practicable to procure sustainable products and services and provide a listing of helpful resources for identifying and understanding sustainable products and services.
The CEQ implementing instructions provide additional direction as it relates to Federal facility requirements, such as goals for pollution prevention and waste diversion and requirements for waste reduction. The instructions also provide direction for certain construction and modernization projects to meet and (where practicable) exceed the CEQ's Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings and Associated Instructions (Guiding Principles) (available at https://www.sustainability.gov/pdfs/guiding_principles_for_sustainable_federal_buildings.pdf
In addition to implementing the requirements in E.O. 14057 and the associated implementing instructions, DoD, GSA, and NASA are using this opportunity to restructure and streamline FAR part 23. As discussed in section II.A. of this preamble, under this effort, FAR part 23 is proposed to be amended to accomplish the following:
-- Dedicate FAR part 23 to environmental matters.
-- Consolidate purchasing programs requirements.
-- Consolidate requirements related to hazardous and radioactive material.
-- Consolidate Federal facility requirements. . . .