When developing your product or project specifications, Integrate sustainability into the product specifications themselves.

Think about how the product, materials or supplies could be better or use less energy, whether it could be reusable instead of a disposable, or if it can be made with less toxic materials.

For example: Our Facilities and Property Division has translated our sustainable policy specifications into an easy to use manual.  Multnomah County Facilities Specification Manual (1.96 MB)

For example: You could specify EPEAT registered computers; recycled content plastic liners; LED lighting; reusable service ware; compostable plates or certified green cleaning products.

Product Durability and Reusability

  • Avoiding disposable items (single use)
  • Reusable components or features (eg. rechargeable batteries)

Consider the life of the product. How long will you need it, will it last, and can you find a more durable alternative? A more durable item may cost more upfront, but you will save money by not replacing it as often.

Resource Efficiency and Conservation

  • Energy efficient options – e.g. Energy Star models, power saving modes, LED lighting
  • Water efficient options – e.g. Low flow toilets, faucet aerators, auto sensor
  • Products made from recycled materials – e.g. Recycled plastics, paper, metals

See PCRB Rule 46-0320 Preference for Recycled Materials

What impacts will using the product/s have on the environment or total cost of owning the product/s?

Waste Prevention and Reduction

  • Specify products that do not require hazardous disposal.
  • Specify items that are recyclable in local facilities and/or can be remanufactured.
  • Specify packaging options – e.g supplier take back, reduced packaging, and recyclable packaging

Consider the waste and disposal impacts. It costs less to recycle, so will this purchase have lingering costs?

Toxics Reduction

  • Specify low emission products and less toxic alternatives.
  • Consider the impacts the goods will have on human and environmental health.
  • Who will be using the products?
  • Do the components emit chemical (off gassing)?

Consider restricting certain ingredients such as BPA (in plastics), Chlorine Bleach (use Hydrogen Peroxide instead), and PVC (there are many alternatives).

Consider using Indoor Air Quality standards such as Greenguard.

Environmental Standards

Are there third party environmental or social certifications relevant to the items?

– e.g. Green Seal, EPEAT, Energy Star, Water Wise.

If yes, it is preferred that you specify the products meet or exceed those specifications. Be advised, that you should require demonstrable proof such as certification or valid testing results.

Best Value

Perform total cost of ownership or lifecycle costing analysis for this purchase

Sometimes a product is more expensive up front but it will save money in operating and maintenance costs. An energy efficient refrigerator may cost more, but it will reduce operating costs, saving the County money.