Santa Monica has long been considered a pioneer for the sustainable local government movement.  In 2009, the city was recognized by the Alliance in its annual Sustainability Showcase Awards for its commitment to adopting sustainable practices.  One key focus on Santa Monica's sustainability efforts is its environmentally preferable purchasing program.

Adoption of Municipal Code Language that Supports Environmental Purchasing

Santa Monica has a municipal code that does not require the city to purchase products based exclusively on first cost. In addition to price, city staff may utilize other criteria such as “the quality of the material or services offered” when evaluating purchases. The city’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment uses this municipal code language to help it implement environmental purchasing.

Comprehensive Purchasing Process

Santa Monica’s environmental purchasing process is comprehensive in its approach to green procurement, going far beyond simply writing specifications and bids. For example, in developing a green cleaning products program, the city undertook a rigorous process to identify and adopt products which best fulfilled its green mission.

  • Pilot Program
  1. Research Products
  2. Draft Specification
  3. Obtain Vendor Information
  4. Evaluate Bids and Test Products
  5. Redraft Specification
  6. End-User Training
  7. Evaluate the Product and Process

As a result of this initiative, the city prevents the use of 3,200 pounds of hazardous materials annually while reducing spending on custodial products by five percent.

In addition to greening its cleaning products, Santa Monica has also been effective in greening its procedures for purchasing products for fleet maintenance, pest management, and recycled products. The details of these processes can be found in the U.S EPA’s “The City of Santa Monica’s Environmental Purchasing: A Case Study.”

Key to Success

  • Support from the top officials including the City Council, city manager, and department heads
  • End-user involvement in decision-making processes
  • Specifications and bid evaluations incorporating baseline research
  • Partnership between the Environmental Programs Division, which conducts product research and drafts specifications, and the Purchasing Division
  • Pilot programs testing products’ efficacy
  • Expert, hands-on training to city custodial staff
  • Flexible programs that can evolve and respond to lessons learned