Employee and Vendors Surveys can be a useful tool for stakeholder participation, and as an outreach tool.

Employee Surveys

In April 2009, as Multnomah County was developing its Sustainable Purchasing policy, the development team conducted a survey of employees relating to sustainable purchasing. The purpose of this survey was to inform employees about the policy development efforts, find out how much employees knew about the topic, identify any barriers to sustainable purchasing that may exist, and establish what types of resources would be needed to help staff make a sustainable purchasing decision. It was also used as an outreach method to inform employees of the County's proposed policy.  A similar survey was conducted in November 2010, four months after the adoption of the Sustainable Purchasing Policy.

View the Employee survey questions here Employee Survey Questions (109.05 KB).


Price (66%), performance (60%), and lack of information about what makes a product sustainable (54%) were the identified as the most significant barriers in the first survey. In the second survey, price dropped from the top spot, coming in second with 58%. Lack of product information was the top barrier in the second survey. I would expect that lack of product information would be less of a barrier from December to July, during which time there was significant outreach, education, and support provided to departments by the dedicated sustainable purchasing coordinator.

Encouragingly, there appears to be a reduction in concern over the performance of sustainable alternatives, with a drop from 60% to 33% of respondents identifying it as a barrier.

Interestingly, since the adoption of the policy, time pressure as a barrier increased from 4% in the first survey to 26% in the second survey.  One would expect that time pressure would decrease from December when support from the Sustainable Purchasing Coordinator was in place.

In the first survey 24% of respondents answered that they perceived no barriers, however on the second survey, which dropped to 4%. This would seem to indicate that since the policy has been in place, they are experiencing barriers they had not thought existed previously.

General awareness of ecolabels and third party certifications has increased since the first survey was conducted; awareness of Green Seal, Greenguard, FSC and LEED has increased by about 20%.

Tip sheets as resources scored high in both surveys, as did workshops. Providing language for procurements scored fairly low in both surveys, however, this may be because most employees responding would not be responsible for developing language for procurements. As a result, since the second survey was conducted, we have created a number of web-based resources and conducted several workshops and training sessions for employees.

It appears that Multnomah County employees have a great awareness of sustainable purchasing concepts and tools since the first survey was conducted. Their attitudes and perceptions regarding barriers have shifted and it would be interesting to follow up since December 2010, when a dedicated sustainable purchasing coordinator was able to come on board.  Feedback from meetings and trainings indicate that there has indeed been a significant attitude shift among some employees, which is very encouraging and one of the overarching goals of the program.

Vendor Survey

 In July 2010, Multnomah County conducted a survey of our business partners to know what they think about sustainability, sustainable purchasing, and what resources they need to help them be greener. Their responses have helped us to develop resources that we hope will help them meet our sustainability goals, and to become better businesses.

View the Vendor survey questions here Vendor Survey Questions (90.74 KB)

What we heard from them        

Barriers to introducing sustainable practices into their business:
- 86 percent of those surveyed indicated that lack of knowledge/training on sustainability was a barrier
- 67% percent of those surveyed indicated that lack of resources is a barrier

They are doing a lot already!
- Duplexing (double sided printing)
- Energy conservation practices
- Recycling
- Green cleaning
- Sustainable purchasing

What vendors wanted from us:
Most of you would like to receive information from Multnomah County via email, US Mail and web-based formats.

What we are doing in response:
We have created resources and tools to help you find assistance and learn more about sustainability:

  • Created a webpage for vendor information /purchasing/vendors
  • Publications and training
    • Sustainable Purchasing & Social Equity Resources for Businesses brochure (PDF)
    • Sustainable Purchasing & Social Equity Policy Guidelines for vendors (PDF)
    • Online training module (in development)
    • Tools and resources for greening businesses: links to organizations and green business information, sustainability calculators, sustainability best practices, and ecolabel information.

Where we are going:
 We are exploring the opportunity to offer training sessions to businesses and we will be adding to our online resources.