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back to green purchasingImplementing Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

purchasing standards
best value or life-span analysis
using life-span analysis to support EPP
calculation for economic analysis
educate your employees
educate your vendors

Purchasing Standards

Environmentally preferable products are tested and measured according to a number of standards. Some of these standards include:

  • Energy Star and RoHS Directive to measure energy efficiency of electronic devices and appliances, 
  • Integrated Part-Load Value (IPLV) to measure energy efficiency of conditioners,
  • Ballast Efficacy Factor (BEF) to measure energy efficiency of lamps and ballasts,
  • Volatile Organic Compound concentration ([VOC]) levels to measure toxicity,
  • Minimum Lamp Life and Maximum Mercury (Hg) to measure energy efficiency and toxicity of Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs),
  • Percent Post-Consumer Content (PCC) to measure material sustainability,
  • Gallons per Minute or Flush to measure water conservation in plumbing fixtures.

The following table lists examples of product categories and the types of standards used to evaluate them.

EPP Minimum Standards for Goods for Agencies



 Beverage Vending Machines   Energy Star
 Bottled Water Coolers   Energy Star 
 Freezers   Energy Star
 Refrigerators   Energy Star
 Steam Cookers   Energy Star
 Dehumidifiers   Energy Star
 Dishwashers   Energy Star
 Floor Coatings   VOC 100 g/L
 Nonflat Coatings   VOC 150 g/L
 Varnish   VOC 275 g/L
 Concrete Bond Breakers   VOC 350 g/L
 Fire-Resistive Coatings   VOC 350 g/L
 Recycled Coatings   VOC 250 g/L
 Shellacs   VOC 730 g/L
 Answering Machines   Energy Star
 DVD Products   Energy Star
 Table Radios   Energy Star
 Televisions   Energy Star/RoHS
 Air Conditioners   Energy Star
 Chillers   0.85-1.23 IPLV
 Heat Pumps   Energy Star
 Furnaces   Energy Star
 Fluorescent Ballasts   0.8-2.64 BEF
 CFLs   12,000 Hrs, 5 mg Hg
 Garden Hose   60-65% PCC
 Plastic Fencing   60-100% PCC
 Carpet Adhesives   VOC 50-8000 ug/m^2*hr

  VOC 50-500 ug/m^2*hr
  and 25-100% PCC

 Pallets   50-100% PCC
 Park Benches   50-100% PCC
 Signs, plastic   80-100% PCC
 Trash Bags   10-100% PCC
 Computers   Energy Star/RoHS
 Copiers   Energy Star/RoHS
 Printers   Energy Star/RoHS/double siding
 Bathroom Tissue   20-60% PCC
 Paper Towels   40-60% PCC
 Tablet Paper   30% PCC
 File Folders   30% PCC
 Faucets   <2.0 gal/min
 Toilet   1.6 gal/flush

You can read more about environmentally preferable purchasing standards for goods and construction products through the Mayor's Office of Contract Services website leaving NYCWasteLess. Also look at helpful links about purchasing for more green purchasing information

procurement laws and directives
buy recycled 

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Best Value or Life-Span Analysis

Best Value or Lifespan Analysis is designed to minimize expenditures by basing purchasing decisions on a variety of factors affecting the cost over the life of a product, rather than the initial purchase price alone. While two or more products may perform essentially the same function and be offered at comparable prices, one of the products may actually represent a better buy either because it lasts longer, uses less energy, or produced less waste. If purchasing decisions do not reflect the cost of using, replacing, and disposing of the product, in addition to the initial cost of purchase, you may not be getting the best value for its money.

The factors are considered in life-span analysis will vary depending on the product or material under consideration. Generally, life-span analyses may compare such elements as: initial costs, operating and maintenance costs, and disposal costs. Each of these elements is discussed below.

  • Initial costs refer to the expenditures to acquire and establish use of a product. Specifically, the purchase price, shipping fees, and installation costs, which include any necessary costs associated with providing access to electricity and water.
  • Training costs may include materials and labor to educate current and future employees on how to use the product or material properly.
  • Operating and Maintenance (O&M) costs refer to the annual expenditures for parts, labor, and supplies for routine operations, as well as for preventative maintenance and repairs over the life of the product or equipment. O&M also includes the costs of gas, electricity, and water to operate the equipment. A crucial element in determining O&M costs is the anticipated usable life of the product or equipment. Product life can be estimated based on both vendor warranties and user experience.
  • Disposal costs cover the handling of discarded operating and maintenance supplies, as well as associated packaging wastes during the functional life of the product. This expense also includes the costs associated with the final disposal of the product or equipment when it is no longer operational or needed.

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Using Life-Span Analysis to Support EPP

Use life-span analysis to support an environmentally preferable procurement or to compare responsive bids that meet your EPP criteria. Be sure that the technical evaluation factors contain sufficient detail so vendors responding to a solicitation offer comparable, environmentally preferable products.

To support their effort to purchase a more durable, longer life battery, the State of Georgia required bidders responding to vehicle battery solicitations to apply a formula based on the initial purchase price plus factors related to warranty conditions, assuming that a battery with a longer warranty is more durable than a battery with a shorter warranty period. This example demonstrated how states are factoring warranty periods into the cost of products. Bids must be supported with technical data confirming the battery's reserve capacity and warranty.

Formula for Vehicle Battery Bid

Life-Cycle Cost = (P+RC+$50) x (12/WP)
P = Quoted Price
RC = Replacement Cost of failed battery
$50 = Labor to replace failed battery
WP = Quoted Warranty Period (months)

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Calculation for Economic Analysis

To perform a simple analysis, begin by accumulating all of the information necessary to your calculations. This will include initial and ongoing cost data as well as information concerning the anticipated usable life of the product and any environmental issues of concern to your company. For example, before you start to compare costs, you will want to review each product's warranty. What is the fully warranted life of the product, or for how long will the manufacturer either refund the full purchase price or replace the product? Can you purchase an extended warranty and, if so, what are the additional costs and benefits?

The table below can be used as a reference for determining the cost data you can use to compare competing products. Remember that you are considering both the initial costs and the ongoing costs of each product under consideration. The costs below are included in the chart because an essential part of an EPP program involves considering all the costs associated with the use and disposal of a product, even those we normally do not see.

 A Initial costs (one-time or start-up costs) Purchase price (including cost of extended warranty, if applicable) + Installation costs (including delivery, power hook-ups, new plumbing, etc.) + Staff training time and materials (if any).
 B Labor (operations, waste management, additional training)  Hours x Rate
 C Parts and supplies for regular use  Cost x Number purchased per year
 D Utilities (gas, electricity, water)  Cost x Kilowatt hours or cubic feet per year
 E Disposal  (Pounds of waste (including packaging)/2000) x disposal fee
 F Recurring costs  Labor + Parts & Supplies + Utilities + Disposal (B+C+D+E)
 G First-year cost of operations  Initial costs + Recurring costs (A+F)
 H Subsequent year(s) cost of operation  Recurring costs x Warranted life of product

Some of the factors that may influence your purchasing decisions cannot be easily quantified. For example, if your goal is to replace a hazardous product with a non-hazardous alternative, the presence or absence of toxic constituents may be more important to your selection than a potential minor increase in the initial cost of the product. Other variables to consider include: reduced labor needs, freeing staff to complete other projects, and improved health and safety conditions for the staff.

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Educate your employees  

You will want to involve staff when implementing an EPP program. Talk to staff who use the products daily to test and select substitutes in order to ensure that they understand the reasons for phasing out the current product and to gauge their satisfaction with the more environmentally friendly substitute. Your company may wish to develop a protocol for obtaining, testing, and comparing potential substitutes. Once you select a product, you may want to include in the solicitation a requirement that the vendor provide your staff with training and hands-on demonstration in the use of the product or equipment.

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Educate your vendors

Once your company establishes EPP standards, these standards need to be communicated to staff and to your vendors. You can insert the new standards into product specifications when you issue an Invitation to Bid. However, you may also want to notify your suppliers of any changes in your Company's purchasing policy and share your new product expectations.

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