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Sustainable Administration Hub: Procurement

Sustainable Administration Hub: Procurement


Procurement is a critical part of sustainability. Our purchasing decisions determine which businesses are financially supported by Ohio University budget resources and reflect the values of the University. Ideally, those purchasing decisions will simultaneously benefit our people, our planet, and the prosperity of our region.  Our sustainable purchasing guidelines and our student-created triple bottom line cost-benefit analysis tool are resources that can be used by Ohio University students and staff to evaluate their own purchases.


Sustainability Project Laboratory Icon


The Sustainability Project Laboratory is a database of sustainability-related project proposals. This resource hosts projects and project ideas that can be adopted by faculty, staff, and students for course projects, capstone or senior projects, theses, and more.

To find procurement related projects just type "procurement" into the search bar at the top of the database.


The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) is currently revising its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), which Ohio University uses to measure its sustainability efforts. You may view a draft of the proposed updates to Procurement guidelines here.

Procurement Infographic
The 2017 Purchasing infographic outlining progress towards the 2011 sustainability benchmarks and new goals set for fiscal year 2026. Find the information in the tabs "Where we are now (2017): Progress toward 2011 Sustainability Plan" and "Moving Forward: 2017 Sustainability & Climate Action Plan Goal."



Accessibility View of Purchasing Graphic

Where we are now (2017): Progress toward 2011 Sustainability Plan

  • Benchmark 20: Increase the percentage of paper products on campus that include post-consumer recycled content. Target not met​.

  • Benchmark 24: Encourage use of sustainable and/or recyclable materials and containers in place of polystyrene by developing environmentally preferable purchasing guidelines. Preferable Purchasing Guidelines Created​.

  • Benchmark 28: Increase purchase of non-food local goods and services and environmentally preferable goods. Alternative baseline determined​.

  • Benchmark 29: Increase purchase of environmentally preferable computer products. Target exceeded​.

  • Benchmark 31: Develop sustainability guidelines for concessionaires and franchisees. Target in progress. ​

Purchasing Graphics

STARS Purchasing Comparison Graphic
AASHE STARS compares programs across the nation in many different categories. Ohio University reports above the national average in investments.
Ohio University Emissions Breakdown
At Ohio University, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) data collection is limited for purchasing. Purchased paper accounts for 0.2% of emissions.​

Moving Forward: 2017 Sustainability & Climate Action Plan Goal

Goal: Increase purchasing of sustainable and/or recycled products across a range of categories:

  • Increase the use of recycled paper from 7% to 50%
  • Increase the use of EPEAT Gold Electronics (as defined in EPEAT Registry) from 94% to 95%
  • Increase the use of Green Cleaning Products (as defined in the AASHE STARS Technical Manual for OP 13) from 51% to 65%
  • Increase the use of Alternative Fuel Vehicles (as defined in the  AASHE STARS Technical Manual for OP15)from 1.4% to 3%
  • Increase the use of battery-powered lawn care products from 0% to 50%
  • Increase the number of Concessionaires / Franchisees with Sustainable Purchasing (to be defined in 2020 OHIO Sustainable Purchasing guidelines) in contract​ to 100%
  • Increase the total sustainable purchases (to be defined in 2020 OHIO Sustainable Purchasing guidelines) to 30%

Potential Strategies​

  • Review and revise existing sustainability purchasing guidelines to direct progress toward sub-goals.​

  • Educate University purchasers on benefits of, and encourage use of, sustainability purchasing guidelines, both for bid and non-bid purchases.  ​

  • Create model RFP criteria and protocol for bid purchases and evaluation tools for non-bid purchases, and include carbon emissions as criteria​

  • Incorporate sustainability practices into contracts for concessionaires and franchisees​

  • Develop strategies to monitor non-centralized purchasing, especially post-consumer content in paper purchasing​

  • Mark vendors or products meeting certain sustainable criteria in BobcatBuy to incentivize increased sustainable procurement​

  • Create bi-monthly sustainable purchasing group meeting to monitor progress​

  • Develop an assessment tool for social return on investment, especially for local purchases​

Benefits of the Goal

  • Improved reputation
  • Reduced emissions
  • Increased community engagement
  • Increased economic activity
  • Improved human health
  • Reduced operational costs

Costs of the Goal

  • Staff time
  • Capital cost

Current Data

A bar graph showing the percentage of OU's sustainable purchases over time.
This bar graph shows three different fields. The green cleaning products and EPEAT Gold electronics were calculated as the percent fiscal amount spent on the sustainable products. The percentage of alternatively-fueled vehicles was calculated from the number of vehicles in the campus fleet that were not purely diesel/gasoline-fueled.

Green cleaning products are determined as "Expenditures on cleaning products that are Green Seal or UL ECOLOGO certified and/or Safer Choice labeled" according to STARS.

EPEAT is a third party rating system used to determine the environmental-friendliness of imaging products. On the Canon website, it says that, "EPEAT® considers – among other things – absence of toxic substances, use of recycled and recyclable materials, design for recycling, product longevity, energy efficiency, corporate performance and packaging." EPEAT Gold is the ranking with the highest amount of criteria.
A line graph showing the erratic percentage of paper purchasing over time.
The amount of recycled paper is the total amount of paper purchased containing recycled content. The graph is somewhat erratic, showing the inconsistancy in recycled paper purchasing over time.



OU has 46.59% of its lawncare equipment powered by electricity.
Graph showing Ohio University scores in Purchasing section of STARS at 71.8% vs lower averages for US STARS institutions, Doctoral institutions and large institutions
Ohio University 2021 STARS Purchasing scores vs. average scores for other groupings of institutions


Hub Supported Initiatives

Initiative (Lead department/Unit)SCAP Alignment

Participation in Pouring Rights RFP process (Procurement)

Public bid process to choose new beverage supplier for Ohio University Culinary Services and Athletics.  Director of Sustainability on RFP committee.

Increase purchasing of sustainable and/or recycled products across a range of categories. (100% of concessionaires have sustainable purchasing in contract by 2026).

Culinary Services Local Food Procurement (Culinary Services)

Foods that are grown, raised and processed within 100 miles of OHIO

Culinary Services is a key player in the Sugar Bush grant-funded Farm to Ohio Working Group focusing on local food systems and local food procurement.  Office of Sustainability staff support this working group.

Increase purchasing of sustainable and/or recycled products across a range of categories (also see the Food theme of the Sustainability & Climate Action Plan).
Triple Bottom Line ToolTriple Bottom Line Cost-Benefit Analysis (TBL-CBA) working group, a group of students, faculty, and staff who meet weekly to create a cost-benefit analysis tool to evaluate projects in the SPL.
Sustainable Procurement GroupA group of stakeholders in procurement across multiple OHIO offices and departments that discuss progress, challenges, and solutions that promote the goals within the Sustainability & Climate Action Plan.
Green Purchasing ReportsAggregation reports submitted to the university by potential vendors that detail total numbers of sustainable purchasing within their portfolio.


Hub-Related Initiatives 

  • EPEAT Gold computer purchases
    • The University's Bobcat Depot purchases only EPEAT certified computers and laptops.
  • RFP Sustainability language
    • The University's RFP template contains requirements to provide sustainability information in all bid proposals.
  • Social Enterprise Ecosystem
    • The Social Enterprise Ecosystem (SEE Appalachia) is a project that seeks to make positive changes to health and wellness, education and the environment. SEE assists social enterprises, which combine the social mission of a nonprofit with the market-driven approach of a business, with financing and operational sustainability in every stage, from start-up to eventual growth and expansion. 

Procurement Best Practices

Sustainable Purchasing Best Practices

Best Practice Table

Sustainability AttributeSustainability GoalSustainable Purchasing Best Practices
Recycled contentReduce carbon emissions, deforestation, use of finite resourcesFavor higher post-consumer recycled content; Avoid "virgin" (non-recycled) paper or wood content
Local productsReduce supply chain emissions; support local communitiesPrioritize products made within the state of Ohio or within 250 miles of the campus
Conflict Free MineralsEliminate socially harmful extraction processes for minerals used in most electronic devicesEvaluation of vendor’s conflict mineral policy
Biodegradable/CompostableReduce landfill wastePrioritize BPI-certified paper products
Fair TradePromote sustainable and equitable trade relationships between producers and consumersPrioritize Fair Trade labeled products
Chemical FreeMinimize use of chemicals that diminish indoor air qualityAvoid purchasing products that require use in a well-ventilated area (e.g. cleaning products, hygiene products, carpeting, plastics, fabrics)
Sustainably HarvestedReduce deforestation, desertificationWood products (e.g. furniture) should be certified as sustainably harvested (FSC Certified) or rapidly regenerating (such as bamboo).
Energy EfficientReduce energy consumption, utility costSeek Energy Star rated appliances, alternative fuel or LEED rated vehicles
Carbon OffsetsReduce institutional carbon footprintPurchase offset credits to compensate for emissions produced

Product Standard

ComputersEPEAT Gold rated
Paper30% post-consumer recycled content (minimum)
StyrofoamProhibited from purchasing (see Styrofoam Fact Sheet)
VehiclesLEFE rated

Disposal Guidelines

  • When a good is no longer desired, the owner must contact Moving and Surplus to have the product entered into the University's surplus inventory.
  • Moving and Surplus may deem the product inappropriate for surplus inventory. In such a situation, the user will make a good faith effort to repurpose or recycle the product. Recycling pick-up can be requested by emailing the Office of Refuse and Recycling at
  • All electronic products should be disposed of at campus-designated locations for electronic waste

Ohio University Experts & Area Stakeholders

OHIO Experts

Dan Karneykarney@ohio.eduAssociate Professor of Economics
Allison Ricketricket@ohio.eduVisiting Professor, Voinovich School
Faith Knutsenknutsenf@ohio.eduDirector, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Voinovich School
David McCrackenmccracken@ohio.eduDirector, Strategic Sourcing, Procurement Services
Chad Mitchellmitchec2@ohio.eduAssistant Director, Strategic Sourcing, Procurement Services
Mary Nallynallym@ohio.eduDirector, Center for Community Engagement
Ryan Fogt

Sustainable Administration Hub Coordinator
Elaine Goetzgoetze@ohio.eduDirector of Energy Management & Sustainability