San Diego County, California

San Diego County’s environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) efforts began when its Board of Supervisors adopted a buy-recycled resolution in 1992. In April 1997, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution mandating that the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) investigate expanding its buy-recycled program to incorporate the U.S EPA’s EPP principles and guidelines as outlined in the 1996 report, (A Study of State and Local Government Procurement Practices that Consider Environmental Performance of Goods and Services). DEH established an advisory committee of environmental and purchasing specialists that met regularly over the course of one year to discuss EPA’s guiding principles, lifecycle assessments, and certification programs. The committee also discussed ways to certify manufacturers’ claims concerning the green value of their products.

The committee developed a countywide policy based on EPA’s EPP guidance including such components as requiring paper purchases to include 30% post-consumer recycled content. DEH also prepared a matrix comparing the risks of different environmental impacts and ranking the most important environmental attributes.

In April 2000, the county elected to move the EPP program from DEH to the City of San Diego’s Purchasing Division. The Mayor of San Diego then directed the Environmental Services Department to work in conjunction with the Purchasing & Contracting Department to develop an environmentally preferable purchasing program, EP3. This partnership enabled the development of a program that is both practical and environmentally friendly. To aid all city departments in considering environmental criteria in addition to the usual price and performance criteria, EP3 administrators:

  • Develop and distribute environmentally preferable products listing and resources;
  • Offer information and training aids;
  • Update city bid documents to encourage the use of recycled and environmentally preferable products;
  • Provide annual reports to the Mayor on the status of EP3implementation; and
  • Target major city purchasers, to achieve the greatest impact.

EP3 has developed an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Evaluation Checklist and justification form that purchasers must complete if they are unable to find a product which meets the standards developed in the city's policy.

In FY 2007, the first full year since passage of the authorizing resolution Administrative Regulation 35.80, the city saved nearly $13 million from EP3 purchases, including $8.8 million in electricity savings from the installation of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures in city facilities.  One notable component of the San Diego program is the model contract language that can be used in city request for bids, requests for proposals, and requests for information, as well as for the procurement of environmentally preferable products and services.