Multiple acts of Congress require the Federal Government to use its purchasing power to reduce the negative effects on the environment and promote sustainability and energy efficiency. As with all agencies there are many environmental, energy, transportation and economic considerations affecting the acquisition process at the Department of Energy (DOE). Federal agencies are required to give preference to products that are energy and water efficient, alternative fuel/fuel-efficient vehicles, non-ozone depleting substances, and made from biobased or recycled content. 

For a full list of the Federal requirements and resources, go to the Office of the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer’s Sustainability site and click on the “Acquisition and Electronics Stewardship” tab.

To implement these requirements, agencies refer to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) as the primary regulation reference for acquisition of sustainable supplies and services.

Contract Language

Integration into Contracts

As you are preparing solicitations and contracts remember that these documents cannot be “green” without the right language.

Most environmental clauses are prescribed in FAR Part 23 and nearly all contracts entered into involve invoicing for which you should:

  • Require double-sided copies on recycled paper;
  • Require EPEAT-registered computer equipment; and
  • Encourage them to conduct most communication electronically to avoid unnecessary use of paper products.

The Recycled Paper requirement is found in FAR Part 4. The referenced provisions and clauses can be found in FAR Part 52.

Supplemental internal DOE requirements can be found in DOE's Directive:
DOE Order 436.1A, Departmental Sustainability 

The Order establishes an agency-wide integrated, performance-based approach to implement sustainability in DOE operations and ensures the Department conducts its missions in a sustainable manner.

The Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security’s Office of Sustainable Environmental Stewardship (EHSS-21), in coordination with the Office Management and Administration’s Office of Acquisition and Project Management, launched the GreenBuy Awards in fiscal year (FY) 2011 and have run the Awards program annually since then. 

The GreenBuy Award Program recognizes DOE sites for excellence in “green purchasing” that extends beyond minimum compliance requirements. 

The DOE GreenSpace Award, introduced in 2021,  recognizes DOE sites for greening an entire space by addressing the purchase of more sustainable equipment, materials, and products in that space.

All Federal agencies, including DOE, are required to purchase sustainable products and services that meet all statutory and Executive requirements. To help navigate these numerous, and sometimes overlapping, requirements DOE developed a Priority Products List. The Priority Products List is the backbone of the GreenBuy and GreenSpace Award Programs because it helps DOE sites readily identify products with leading and verifiable sustainability attributes. The basis for the products chosen and the goals set are described in “History and Background on the Development of the U.S. Department of Energy’s GreenBuy Awards Program and Priority Products List Initiated Fiscal Year (FY) 2010.

The Priority Products List simplifies the process by identifying products that:

  1. Meet or exceed statutory requirements for sustainable attributes;
  2. Have lower health and environmental impacts;
  3. Are regularly purchased products or services and are a significant part of DOE spending;
  4. Reduce maintenance costs;
  5. Reduce waste management costs;
  6. Are covered by standards or ecolabels covering multiple attributes;
  7. Conform to the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings; and
  8. Support other sustainability program goals.

The Priority Products List is a living document, which is reviewed annually for potential updates.  This list was developed by EHSS-21 in collaboration with DOE’s Sustainable Acquisition Working Group (SAWG), following extensive research and review of multiple standards, and with input from other Federal agencies and non-profit organizations. 

Surveyed Products that meet the DOE Priority Products goals for the GreenBuy/GreenSpace Award

DOE surveyed the market to identify the availability of select products that meet the sustainability stipulations (such as PFAS* Free) and at least one additional goal (applicable ecolabel, standard, certification or attribute) to qualify for the GreenBuy and GreenSpace Awards.     

The following document can help purchasers identify PFAS-free Take Out Dishware products.  This list was compiled by the Center for Environmental Health and is used as a reference by DOE sites.

* Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) 

Shab Fardanesh, the EHSS-21 DOE Sustainable Acquisition Coordinator, notes that a majority of DOE sites have voluntarily participated in the GreenBuy Awards since its launch in FY 2011.  “This voluntary program helps DOE sites systematically reduce their footprint through environmentally sustainable purchases,” says Fardanesh.  “As an added bonus, employees can also use this information to make greener and healthier purchases at home.”

To learn more about the GreenBuy/GreeenSpace Award Programs or to join the DOE SAWG, contact Shab Fardanesh.

The benefits of Sustainable Acquisition are numerous.

By purchasing more sustainable products, the general benefits that can be expected for the respective product categories are:

Biobased Content

  • Reduce U.S. reliance on imported petroleum since any amount of biobased content displaces petroleum.
  • Increase the economics of biorefineries by co-producing valuable biobased products along with biobased fuel.
  • Improve economics of U.S. agricultural production.
  • Stimulate economic development in rural areas.
  • Establish a healthier environment for staff.
  • Reduce hazardous materials on site.
  • Reduce disposal and cleanup costs.

Energy Efficient

  • Reduce operating expenses by using less energy.
  • Reduce carbon emissions.
  • Reduce energy costs.

EPEAT Registered Electronic Equipment

  • All the benefits of Energy Efficient products, plus:
    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and smog formation potential.
    • Reduce water consumption and water pollutant emissions.
    • Increase longevity.
    • Reduce toxic substance use.
    • Reduce virgin material extraction, manufacturing and use.
    • Reduce hazardous and solid waste.
    • Reduce solid waste disposal costs.

EPEAT-registered electronic equipment is one component of Electronics Stewardship & Data Centers.  The other components of Electronics Stewardship that apply to Sustainable Acquisition are procuring ENERGY STAR certified, and low standby power equipment.

Non/Less Toxic

  • Establish healthier environment for staff.
  • Reduce hazardous materials on site.
  • Reduce cost of sick days and disposal of hazardous materials.

Non-Ozone Depleting

  • Establish healthier environment for staff.
  • Eliminate emissions of ozone depleting chemicals.

Recycled Content

  • Reduce initial purchasing cost.
  • Conserve water because less water is required when manufacturing with recycled content.
  • Reduce greenhouse gases because fewer are emitted when feedstock is semi-processed.
  • Conserve natural resources.
  • Reduce disposal costs.
  • Stimulate economic development in recycled product market.

Water Efficient

  • Reduce operating expenses by using less water.
  • Reduce risks associated with water scarcity.
  • Reduce wastewater disposal costs.

Use the following calculators to help identify benefits.  For energy, consider the source when calculating savings.  Energy use and carbon emission savings from clean energy sources can be significantly less or zero compared to conventional sources.


Electronic Equipment

Energy Efficiency

Recycled Content

Water Efficiency

Sharing our successes is a great way to help others be successful. Transitioning to different products can be difficult. Purchasers have to identify potential products; evaluate their sustainability, performance, and cost attributes; test the products; and establish a system for purchasing the new product. By sharing our success stories, we reduce the time and cost for others to transition to more sustainable products.

DOE’s procurement commitments and goals are to acquire products with the most sustainable attributes.

DOE's Sustainable Acquisition Program ensures the purchase of more sustainable products by working with DOE sites to help them integrate sustainability requirements and objectives into operations by:

  • Specifying sustainable attributes in applicable service and product contracts;
  • Minimizing consumption and making re-use the first source of supply;
  • Making sustainable acquisition an integral part of DOE site Environmental Management Systems (EMS);
  • Focusing on products with multiple, most sustainable attributes available on the market—called the "Priority Products List" at DOE; and
  • Recognizing DOE sites for voluntarily participating in the GreenBuy and GreenSpace Award Programs for achieving sustainable purchasing goals using the Priority Products List.

To discuss green purchasing requirements, integration of sustainable acquisition in EMSs, successful purchasing approaches, and available tools and resources, DOE’s Office of Sustainable Environmental Stewardship holds bi-monthly working group meetings.  DOE's Sustainable Acquisition Working Group (SAWG) is comprised of environmental, energy and acquisition professionals from across the DOE complex.

The DOE Sustainable Acquisition program website has relocated to Office of Sustainable Environmental Stewardship (EHSS-21) intranet website on SharePoint. On this website, SAWG members can view resources including:

  • Information on the DOE Sustainable Acquisition Program
  • Sustainable Acquisition Drivers and Guidelines
  • Sustainable Product Requirements
  • DOE Site Sustainable Products Database (User Feedback)
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • GreenBuy/GreenSpace Award Guidance and list of current and past winners
  • Product Life Cycle Analysis
  • Purchasing Approach
  • Tools and Resources
  • SAWG Bi-Monthly Teleconference information and past meeting minutes
  • Tracking and Reporting best practices
  • And more!

If you do not already have access to the DOE EHSS-21 SharePoint website and would like to request access and be added to the SAWG distribution list, please submit the form at: SAWG Working Group Registration form

Please note that access to the DOE EHSS-21 SharePoint website and addition to the SAWG distribution list is reserved for DOE employees and contractors only. When requesting access, you will be asked to provide your DOE site address, email, and job title.