Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program (EPP) Objective

In support of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) initiative to be a leader in sustainable and environmentally friendly purchasing practices, the University of Nevada Las Vegas has implemented an EPP program, also known as Green Purchasing, in recognition of the influence the University has as a significant purchaser of goods and services in the community. UNLV Purchasing will promote the preference to purchase goods and services from vendors who provide environmentally friendly products and services and whose quality, function, and cost are equal or superior to more traditional products and service.


UNLV has a strong commitment to educational, research, and outreach programs and encourages the campus community to embrace the ethical challenges of responsible citizenship. By continuing to build on the University's record of consistent compliance with safety and environmental regulations, the EPP program will enable UNLV to plan its future growth in balance with economic, environmental, and socially responsible values.

The EPP program will allow the University to:

  • Strengthen recycling efforts campuswide
  • Reinforce the importance with our vendors to provide green purchasing solutions
  • Create a model that will encourage other vendors to broaden their product and service offerings to include environmentally friendly products
  • Reduce the amount of landfill material being produced
  • Partner with vendors who have invested in environmentally friendly product and service lines and reward them by purchasing their products and services
  • Support local vendors who meet the preferred purchasing program's requirements
  • Give visibility to sustainable purchasing practices that can be used as a guide to other NSHE institutions as well as higher education institutions everywhere
  • Reduce pollution by taking into account emissions over the full life cycle of a product or service
  • Strengthen markets for recycled materials and increase economic development for manufacturers producing source reduction and recyclable product.


A. Short Term Goals

UNLV's focus is to execute a high impact and cost effective green purchasing program designed to conserve resources and to minimize the adverse environmental impact of our product and service usage. This includes the equipment and supplies the University procures for use in its daily operations, lab and classroom environments, and construction projects. The Purchasing Department will continually assess the best way to introduce this philosophy into the relationships we create with our vendors and our customers, and will continue to grow this program to meet the needs of the University. In the near term, the following steps will be taken to begin implementation of the green purchasing program:

  • In all instances where it is practicable to do so, all contracts, bids and RFP's should be evaluated to ensure that language is inserted which expands the standards by which formal solicitations are awarded. Preferable consideration will be given to those firms which submit environmentally responsible responses that do not diminish the intended use of the product or service and are cost effective.
  • Meet with the campus departments to discuss and explore opportunities to utilize products and services with the greatest amount of recycled, recyclable, and post consumer content.
  • Collaborate with existing vendors to identify and highlight for the campus their portfolio of environmentally friendly products and services.
  • Identify green and environmentally responsible products made available by our vendors and pilot them within the University to validate compatibility and practicality.
  • The Purchasing staff will evaluate each purchase that is being made to ascertain if a viable green option is available. This will require each Purchasing staff member to be aware of the following product attributes:
    • Shipping materials should the minimal required to properly secure the product and should be made from recycled or recyclable material.
    • Strive to use raw material from sustainable and renewable sources.
    • Use local or regional vendors to reduce the environmental impact associated with shipping.
    • Items purchased should be, when at all possible, recyclable.
  • Develop a user "checklist" that the requesting department can utilize to determine if the product or service they select is compliant with the goals of the EPP and its guidelines.
  • Create a standard for vendors to become "green" approved.

B. Long Term Commitments

A comprehensive effort to establish a green purchasing program will require a continuous focus on University purchasing trends and growth. As part of this long term commitment, UNLV will establish purchasing oriented systems to address several key areas.

  • By leveraging existing technology, we can integrate new vendor information into existing systems that will allow for more efficient matching of commodity to green approved providers.
  • The aim is to make available to the campus a current and systematic listing of vendors and the products and services they provide.
Products Containing Recycled Content
  • UNLV will only purchase recycled paper and paper products where economically feasible and technologically compatible. This includes a campuswide preference for recycled content office paper purchased through our office supply vendor and Integrated Graphics Services.
  • Procure products for which the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has established minimum recycled content standard guidelines, such as printing paper, office paper, janitorial paper, construction, landscaping, transportation, vehicles, and non-paper office products, and which contain the highest post-consumer content practicable, but no less than the minimum recycled content standards established by the U.S. EPA Guidelines.
  • The University will work toward solely leasing or purchasing copiers and printers that can be used with recycled content products.
  • Enforce the requirement to procure asphalt concrete, aggregate base or portland cement concrete for road construction projects that contains recycled, reusable or reground materials. Require the same for all contractors doing business with UNLV.
  • Procure recycled content transportation products including signs, barricades, and cones.
  • Support the efforts of our Landscape and Grounds Department to implement sustainable landscape management through xeriscape and drought response planning by procuring items such as hydraulic mulch, compost made from yard trimmings or food waste, and eco-friendly fertilizers (see EPA website). UNLV will also give preference to landscaping material produced from locally or regionally generated food waste or plant debris programs.
  • The Purchasing Department will work to ensure that plants, trees, and shrubs purchased for campus landscaping projects will be species that are drought tolerant requiring little or no watering. Preferable buying status will be given to these and other native plants that are appropriate for this climate and meet the needs of the University.
  • Additional preference will be given to vendors who incorporate sustainable landscape planning and maintenance in their proposals and are contracted to provide landscaping services for UNLV. This includes fertilizer selection and frequencies, recycled content edging products, and efficient use of gas powered equipment.
Eliminating or Reducing Pollutants and Toxins
  • UNLV will strive toward the elimination of purchases of Styrofoam and glass products. Vendors will be required to offer alternatives to these items when available.
  • Chemicals purchases for products containing or produced using chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) or other ozone-depleting chemicals will be substituted when suitable alternatives exist.
  • Mercury reduction is attainable through the management of purchases of fluorescent lamps, thermometers, and thermostats coupled with the required purchase of "green tip" bulbs.
  • Strong efforts will be made to avoid purchases of janitorial and other cleaning supplies that contain carcinogens and are not biodegradable.
  • Decrease chemical waste in campus research and teaching laboratories by identifying less hazardous and more environmentally friendly chemicals or processes that may be substituted.
  • Strive to procure biodegradable and phosphate free detergents for use in campus buildings and halls. This requirement would extend to all vendor contracted for cleaning or washing services for the University.
  • Authorize purchase of low impact pest control products such as insecticides that are organic and safe for the environment and people.
  • Vehicle purchases for state use will be made pursuant to Nevada Administrative Code 486A which requires we meet alternative fuel standards.
  • The University will work to phase in Green Seal and EcoLogo certified products through purchases made using its strategic sourcing contracts in coordination with Facilities Management and Campus Life Facilities.
Energy Savings
  • Encourage the purchase of energy efficient products through assistance in product selection and strategic pricing.
  • Support the efforts of the Energy Management department by facilitating purchases of energy efficient equipment that can have a positive impact on energy efficiency and usage.
  • Enforce and support our current purchasing policy that requires Energy Star rated products in all areas for which such ratings exist including lab equipment, technology related hardware, and appliances.
  • Identify departments that are currently using older equipment and appliances and help to match their new purchases with a energy efficient product.
  • Campus departments will be highly encouraged to purchase personal computers, notebook computers and monitors that meet at least the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Silver standard, with a preference for the Gold standard. For product categories where an EPEAT standard is in development, now or in the future, once a product standard is established, all products shall meet the minimum relevant EPEAT standard.
  • In support of the LEED construction initiative by our Planning and Construction department, ensure vendor availability whose offerings include an ample green portfolio of commodities and services.
  • Make certain formal solicitations for LEED construction contain the appropriate language that will be clear to respondents and produce the submissions that will allow for sustainable goals to be met.

Measuring Success: Reporting Performance

In order to gauge the success of the EPP program, the University will put in place tools and programs which allow for the evaluation of our stated goals. Tangible result will allow us to measure the effectiveness of our efforts and to adjust our green purchasing strategies to promote continued improvement.

As part of the reporting process, the following will be implemented to carry out this function.

  • Retooling our current automated purchasing software (MUNIS) and Purchasing Card application to include tracking of purchases made with green approved vendors.
  • Partner with our vendors to leverage their existing reporting capability and draw upon the information they possess regarding the environmental impact and imprint of their products.
  • Data compilation and analysis which will be used to report the effectiveness of our green purchasing program. This report will be made available to the University community to demonstrate UNLV's success in changing the focus of procurement practices.
  • Track individual department or discipline purchasing trends to better help them identify environmentally friendly alternatives to the vendors and products or services they use.

Campuswide Involvement

One of the goals of this program is to involve the campus community in a variety of ways. First, we welcome suggestions and ideas that will build a more robust and responsive green purchasing program. Please contact the purchasing office at x53521 or email at purchasingunlv@unlv.edu to share your comments, concerns, or to give feedback. Second, as we continue to build on our core set of environmentally conscious procurement values we will share with you via our webpage the new and exciting developments of the green purchasing program and how they can better facilitate UNLV's success. And third, we want to share all successes of this program with the entire campus community in acknowledgement of the collaborative effort this program represents.

Key Terms

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP), often referred to as "green purchasing," is the affirmative selection and acquisition of products and services that most effectively minimize negative environmental impacts over their life cycle of manufacturing, transportation, use and recycling or disposal. Examples of environmentally preferable characteristics include products and services that conserve energy and water, minimize generation of waste and releases of pollutants; products made from recycled materials and that can be reused or recycled; alternate fuel vehicles; and products using alternatives to hazardous or toxic chemicals, radioactive materials and biohazardous agents.

Environmentally Preferable
Products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, or disposal of the product or service. The following is a partial list of attributes considered desirable:
  • Biodegradable
  • Carcinogen-free
  • Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) - free
  • Compostable
  • Energy efficient
  • Heavy metal free
  • Low volatile organic compound (VOC) content
  • Low toxicity
  • Lower embodied energy
  • Renewable materials
  • Persistent bioaccumulative toxin (PBT) - free
  • Recyclable
  • Recycled post consumer content
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced packaging
  • Water efficient
This includes aerosols, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioning units, CFC-blown foam (e.g., in furniture), CFC- blown insulating materials and fire extinguishers
The ability of products or materials to be recovered from our waste stream for the purpose of recycling.
Reusable Product
A product that can be used several times for an intended use before being discarded. (refillable ballpoint pen; washable containers, etc)
Source Reduction
Decreases the amount of materials or energy used during the manufacturing or distribution of products and packages. Source reduction stops waste at the source allowing for reduction in inefficient use of natural resources and reducing cost associated with handling and disposal.
Life Cycle Assessment
This is a process to evaluate the environmental burdens associated with a product, process, or activity by identifying and quantifying energy and materials used and wastes released to the environment; to assess the impact of those energy and materials used and releases to the environment; and to identify and evaluate opportunities to affect environmental improvements.
Satisfactory in performance and available at a fair and reasonable price.
Post Consumer Material
A Material that has been used by consumers, collected by recycling programs, and is then remanufactured into a new product.
Post Consumer Content
The percent of post-consumer material recycled into the new product.
Product Life Cycle
The entire life cycle of the product, process or activity, encompassing, extracting and processing raw materials; manufacturing, transportation and distribution; use, re-use, and maintenance; up through recycling, and final disposal.