The Sustainable Purchasing Program is the 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. Our efforts support UNLV's commitment to the community and environment as a major purchaser of goods and services.

Examples of environmentally preferable characteristics include products that:

  • Conserve energy and water, minimize generation of waste, and reduce pollutants
  • Are made from recycled materials 
  • Can be reused or recycled
  • Use alternatives to hazardous or toxic chemicals, radioactive materials, and biohazardous agents


The Sustainable Purchasing Program allows us to:

  • Strengthen campus-wide recycling efforts.
  • Reinforce the importance of providing sustainable purchasing solutions.
  • Create a model that will encourage suppliers to broaden their offerings to include environmentally friendly products.
  • Reduce the amount of landfill material being produced.
  • Partner with suppliers who have invested in environmentally friendly product and service lines and reward them by purchasing their products and services.
  • Support local suppliers who meet the preferred purchasing program's requirements.
  • Raise awareness of sustainable purchasing practices that can be used by 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 increases economic development for manufacturers producing source reduction and recyclable products.

Short-Term Goals

UNLV's focus is to execute a high-impact and cost-effective Sustainable Purchasing Program designed to conserve resources and 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. We will continually assess the best ways to introduce this philosophy into the relationships we create with our suppliers and will continue to grow this program to meet campus needs. In the near term, the following steps will be taken to implement the Sustainable Purchasing Program:

  • In all instances where it is practicable to do so, evaluate all contracts, bids, and RFP's to ensure that language is inserted which expands the standards by which formal solicitations are awarded. Preference will be given to those suppliers which submit environmentally responsible responses that do not diminish the intended use of the product or service and are cost-effective.
  • Meet with 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 suppliers to identify and highlight their portfolio of environmentally friendly products and services.
  • Evaluate each purchase to ascertain if a viable green option is available using the . following product attributes:
    • Shipping materials made from recycled or recyclable material and that contain the least amount of packaging required to properly secure the product.
    • Raw materials from sustainable and renewable sources.
    • Utilizing local or regional suppliers to reduce the environmental impact associated with shipping.
    • Purchasing recyclable items, when at all possible.
  • Develop a user "checklist" that departments can utilize to determine if the product or service they select is compliant with the goals of the Sustainable Purchasing Program and its guidelines.
  • Create a standard for suppliers to become "green" approved.

Long-Term Commitments

UNLV’s comprehensive effort to establish a Sustainable Purchasing Program requires a continuous focus on purchasing trends and growth at the university and across higher education. 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 supplier information into existing systems that will allow for more efficient matching of commodities to green-approved providers.
  • The aim is to make available to the campus a current listing of green suppliers and the products and services they provide.
Products Containing Recycled Content
  • 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.
  • 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 contain recycled, reusable, or reground materials. 
  • 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. UNLV will also give preference to landscaping material produced from locally or regionally generated food waste or plant debris programs.
  • 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. Preference will be given to these and other native plants that are appropriate for the desert climate and meet the needs of the university.
  • Give additional preference to suppliers 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
  • Strive to purchase environmentally friendly products.
  • Source suitable alternatives for chemical purchases for products containing or produced using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or other ozone-depleting chemicals when possible.
  • Attain mercury reduction by managing purchases of fluorescent lamps, thermometers, and thermostats coupled with the required purchase of "green tip" bulbs.
  • Minimize 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.
  • Authorize purchase of low-impact pest control products such as insecticides that are organic and safe for people and the environment.
  • Purchase vehicles for state use pursuant to Nevada Administrative Code 486A, which requires we meet alternative fuel standards.
  • Work to phase in Green Seal and EcoLogo certified products through purchases made using the university’s strategic sourcing contracts in coordination with Facilities Management and Student Affairs Maintenance.
Energy Savings
  • Encourage the purchase of energy-efficient products through assistance in product selection and strategic pricing.
  • Support the efforts of the Facilities Management department by facilitating purchases of energy-efficient equipment that positively impacts 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.
  • Ensure all new equipment and appliance purchases meet energy efficiency standards.
  • Work with campus to encourage computer and monitor purchases meet the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Silver standard at minimum, 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, ensure supplier offerings include a portfolio of green commodities and services.
  • Ensure solicitations for LEED construction contain language that makes it clear bidders will be required to construct projects that will allow for sustainable goals to be met.

To monitor the success of the Sustainable Purchasing Program, UNLV will utilize tools and programs that allow for the evaluation of our goals. Tangible results will allow us to measure the effectiveness of our efforts and to adjust our sustainable purchasing strategies to promote continued improvement.

As part of the reporting process, the following will be implemented:.

  • Configure our current automated purchasing software (Workday) and Purchasing Card application to include tracking of purchases made with green-approved suppliers.
  • Partner with our suppliers to leverage their existing reporting capability and draw upon the information they possess regarding the environmental impact and imprint of their products.
  • Compile data and analysis to report the effectiveness of our Sustainable 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 suppliers and products or services they use.


We welcome suggestions and ideas that will build a more robust and responsive Sustainable Purchasing Program. Please call the Purchasing and Contracts department at 702-895-3521 or email to share your comments, concerns, or to give feedback. For more information on UNLV’s sustainability initiatives, visit the Sustainability webpage.