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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on November 2, 2022, that it launched a new process to expand the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program’s Recommendations of Specifications, Standards and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing (Recommendations). EPA is inviting managers of standards development organizations, ecolabel programs, and other similar organizations to apply for potential assessment and inclusion in the Recommendations. 87 Fed. Reg. 66176. EPA is also hosting a webinar on November 15, 2022, from 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (EST) to answer questions from stakeholders about the expansion of the Recommendations and the process for applying. The EPP program’s Recommendations help federal government purchasers use private sector standards and ecolabels to meet sustainable acquisition goals and mandates. According to EPA, they currently include more than 40 private sector environmental performance standards and ecolabels in over 30 purchase categories.
 
EPA states that to apply to have a standard or ecolabel included in the Recommendations, interested applicants should first familiarize themselves with the Framework for the Assessment of Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels (Framework), which will be used to assess all eligible applicants. Then, submit responses to the scoping questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by January 1, 2023. EPA will use the scoping questions to determine eligibility and scope of the assessment. After the application deadline closes, EPA will issue an estimated timeline for full assessments against the Framework by product/service category within 120 days. For each category being assessed, EPA will provide further notice and instruction to applicable applicants.
 
EPA seeks to assess multi-attribute standards and ecolabels that recognize environmental performance leadership and support federal goals and mandates regarding climate, safer chemicals, or other sustainable acquisition priorities of the Biden Administration (e.g., net-zero emissions, low embodied carbon construction materials, and the restriction or elimination of per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in certified products). EPA is particularly interested in assessing standards and ecolabels in the following sectors: building/construction; infrastructure; landscaping; food and cafeteria services; uniforms/clothing; professional services; and laboratories and healthcare. EPA states that standards and ecolabels that address other sectors already included in the Recommendations are welcome to apply.


 

On November 27, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a notice on "Draft Guidelines; Product Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Voluntary Use in Federal Procurement; Notice of Availability and Request for Comments." A copy of the notice is available online. Comments are due by February 25, 2014.


According to EPA, the Agency intends for the guidelines to "provide a transparent, fair, and consistent approach to using non-governmental product environmental performance standards and ecolabels in Federal purchasing, consistent with Federal standards policy and sustainable acquisition mandates... Voluntary guidelines for standards and ecolabels would help agencies implement sustainable acquisition requirements of Executive Order 13514 and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 23.103 which requires 95% of the government's applicable contract actions to be sustainable. Specifically, the Guidelines for standards and ecolabels could provide clarity regarding the term 'environmentally preferable' for purposes of the Executive Order. In addition to seeking input on the draft Guidelines themselves, EPA is seeking input on how standards and ecolabels should be assessed for conformance to such guidelines."
 


 

On November 20, 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intent to release for comment proposed Draft Guidelines for Product Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Voluntary Use in Federal Procurement (Draft Guidelines). EPA states the Draft Guidelines -- developed by EPA, the General Services Administration (GSA), and other federal agencies following several "listening sessions" with a wide range of stakeholders -- are intended to help federal purchasers identify and select greener products and meet sustainability purchasing goals. Under several federal purchasing mandates, including but not limited to Executive Order 13514 (Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance) and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 23.103, federal agencies must ensure that 95 percent of their acquisitions and contracts are sustainable, such as by buying environmentally preferable products.

The Draft Guidelines and a pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the Draft Guidelines are available online. A 90-day comment period will be set once the Federal Register is published, which is expected in early December 2013.
 

Our full memorandum, with background and analysis, is available on the BRAG website.