We live in a time when sustainability is a core conversation that corporations, governments, and citizens have at all levels, from the dinner table to international summits. Of course, the views and perspectives vary widely, but one theme is fairly consistent: creating a better future is critical. But how? And what does it even mean?

The way government procurement works is changing. Now, more than ever, government contract and procurement officers focus on the sustainability of the products and services they seek. Greenwood Aerospace has adapted our strategies for a more sustainable future to meet this demand. We apply our more than four decades of expertise to provide the most cutting-edge services to all our contractors. These services include: 

Contact us today, or request a quote, and one of our specialists will be in touch with you shortly. We look forward to working with you! 

Now, let’s take a look at why sustainability in government procurement is so important and how we are tackling this issue. 

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What is Sustainable Government Procurement?

We all have a basic understanding of what sustainability is, and we understand what government procurement is, but how do the two converge?

Sustainable government procurement is the process of acquiring goods and services that meet the government's needs while minimizing environmental and social impacts. It can be achieved by purchasing products and services made from sustainable materials that are produced sustainably and that have a positive social impact.

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Sustainable government procurement is important because it can help reduce government operations' environmental impact, promote economic development, and improve social welfare. It can also help to create a more sustainable future for all.

There are many ways to implement sustainable government procurement. Some common strategies include:

  • Developing a sustainable purchasing policy
  • Using life cycle assessment (LCA) to evaluate the environmental impact of products and services
  • Green procurement certification
  • Collaborating with non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Engaging suppliers and providing training

Greenwood Aerospace is a company that helps governments implement sustainable government procurement. We offer a variety of services, including:

  • Developing sustainable purchasing policies
  • Providing training on sustainable procurement
  • Helping governments identify and purchase sustainable products and services
  • Collaborating with NGOs to promote sustainable procurement

Why is Sustainability in Government Procurement Important?

One recurring theme of sustainability is the process itself. When the government sets out to procure services or hard assets now, they must have a sustainable impact. There are a few reasons for this:

  • The economic benefits of sustainable procurement
  • The importance of environmental preservation
  • Building public faith and trust

Let’s take a look at each of these a little more in-depth.

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We wrote recently about the overall economic impact of government spending. Government spending makes up over 40% of the gross domestic product (GDP), an absolutely enormous sum. Whatever initiatives the government chooses to settle on as important are going to either drive or stifle economic activity. The federal government has decided that environmental sustainability is a top priority, and most state and local governments will follow suit. Government funding through procurement is one of the most stable ways for sustainable services to grow and prosper since governments are poised to spend billions of dollars on products and services every year. 

The importance of environmental preservation goes without saying. Our resources are finite, and it is a government initiative to ensure that goods and services are being produced with sustainability in mind. The best way to do this is leading from the front, putting their collective money where their metaphorical mouths are. 

Finally, it is a function of the government to harbor goodwill and trust. One of the best ways to do this is by investing in initiatives that are in the interests of the greater good. When the public sees their government spending on things that matter, namely sustainable initiatives, the public will be more trusting and likely to invest in those same things. 

Impacts of Sustainable Government Procurement

Sustainable government procurement is a watershed event. We are all looking for someone to make the first move or the right move. It can be a transformative force that shapes a more conscientious, ethical, and environmentally friendly approach to public administration. It symbolizes the collective pursuit of a better future, where responsible procurement practices become the new norm rather than the exception.

Let's explore the primary factors that influence sustainability in government procurement.

Economic Impact

The government sets aside enormous budgets every year earmarked for goods and services. They have chosen to make sustainability an initiative of significance, and the market will respond in kind.

The government maintains a balance between public good and economic good, all while minimizing the negative effects on the environment. This is a huge undertaking because the government operates so many huge projects that have the potential to harm the environment, especially in the DOD. Defense spending is necessary, but it is now being looked at through the lens of mitigating negative environmental harm while maintaining mission readiness.

Social Impact

So, what is the social impact of sustainable procurement? There are several. 

  • Job creation through the creation of new jobs to tackle some of these tough issues.
  • An always in-demand decrease of corruption in the public sector. 
  • Better conditions on the job site. The entire purpose of sustainability is to create cleaner solutions, which will directly translate to the job site and manufacturing. 
  • A healthier environment is a win for the entire planet.

Environmental Impact

We know the purpose of sustainable procurement is for a cleaner future, but how exactly does that happen?

One way is the reinforcement of sustainable supply chains. When providing for the private sector, there isn’t always the push necessary for all of the pieces of the supply chain to follow sustainable practices. However, the government can mandate the process and ensure that renewable energy processes are used. Also, they can control whether or not natural resources are used in certain practices, whereas private sector companies have no such authority. 

Finally, government procurement policies can mandate reduced carbon emissions during manufacturing, ensuring a cleaner environment. 

Challenges of Sustainable Government Procurement

Unquestionably, there are challenges to creating a sustainable government procurement strategy. Here are a few of them:

  • Defining sustainability: There is no one-size-fits-all definition of sustainability, so it can be difficult for governments to develop and implement sustainable procurement policies.
  • Measuring sustainability: It’s hard to measure government procurement's environmental and social impacts, so it can be hard to track progress and ensure that policies are effective.
  • Lack of data: There is often a lack of data on the sustainability of products and services, making it difficult for governments to make informed procurement decisions.
  • Lack of competition: The sustainable procurement market is often fragmented and often lacks competition, which can lead to higher prices. It also leads to issues in the procurement process, like single-source or sole-source.
  • Lack of awareness: There is often a lack of awareness of sustainable procurement among government officials and suppliers, which can make it difficult to implement sustainable procurement policies. 

How Can Governments Develop a Sustainable Purchasing Policy?

There are a few steps that governments at all levels can take to develop sustainable purchasing policies. 

  1. Define the overarching goals of the sustainable purchasing policy. What are the key outcomes that need to be achieved?
  2. Inventory the current practices. You have to know where you already are to get where you need to go. This will entail conducting a comprehensive review of the current procurement practices, including the types of goods and services procured, the volume of procurement, and the environmental and social impacts.
  3. Establishing and exploring legal and regulatory frameworks. It may involve updating code and creating new regulations or policies 
  4. Governments need to engage key stakeholders in the process, which will include all of the applicable government agencies or offices, environmental organizations, businesses, and so on. 
  5. A clear sustainability criteria needs to be set. What are the goals? How will suppliers quality for government contracts that are sustainability-oriented?
  6. Monitoring and reporting progress. The key to a sustainable initiative lies in measurable results. The responsible agencies will need to establish a monitoring and reporting system to track progress toward sustainability goals and regularly publish reports on sustainable procurement performance, both internally and to the public.

This is only a primer on what is necessary for developing a sustainable purchasing policy, but it is a good start. 

Tools and Strategies for Implementing Sustainability in Procurement

There are several tools and strategies that will be used for implementing sustainability and procurement. These include: 

  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Green Procurement Certification
  • Collaboration With NGOs
  • Supplier Engagement and Training

Let’s take a look at them, and how they impact the procurement process. 

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

One of the most important parts of government procurement is understanding the life cycle of any given item. When items are procured, they have an expected life cycle regardless of what they are. This is not an exact number but an accurate estimation of how long something will last in terms of years, cycles, or operating hours. For the sake of sustainability, the longer the life cycle, the better. If two items use identical amounts of resources, the one that lasts 20 years instead of 10 years is a far more sustainable option. 

The LCA assesses items throughout their lifecycle to ensure the most sustainable options are procured. 

Green Procurement Certification

Green procurement certification, also known as sustainable procurement certification, is a formal recognition or designation awarded to businesses, organizations, or government agencies that demonstrate a commitment to environmentally and socially responsible purchasing practices. These certifications show that an entity is actively working to minimize its procurement activities' negative environmental and social impacts while promoting positive sustainability outcomes. Here are some key aspects of green procurement certification:

  1. Purpose: Green procurement certifications serve as evidence that an entity is incorporating sustainability criteria into its purchasing decisions. This encourages businesses and governments to adopt more responsible and sustainable procurement practices, which can have positive effects on the environment, society, and the economy.
  2. Certifying Bodies: Many organizations and certification bodies offer green procurement certifications throughout the tiers of government, from the local to the global level.
  3. Criteria and Standards: Certification standards for green procurement typically include a range of environmental, social, and economic sustainability criteria. These criteria may encompass factors such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, fair labor practices, ethical sourcing, and more.
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Collaboration With Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

This process will not be successful without the help of NGOs. NGOs are the engines that the government runs on; without them, they cannot function. This goes back to the stakeholder component to ensure that all parties involved in the process have buy-in.

For instance, organizations like Greenpeace advocate for environmentally friendly practices, while Amnesty International focuses on human rights. These NGOs bring specific expertise and perspectives, ensuring that the procurement process aligns with ethical and sustainable standards. It's a team effort where NGOs, as essential stakeholders, collaborate with the government to ensure that everyone is on board with the playbook of responsible procurement. Together, they create a powerful alliance that drives positive change in government procurement.

Supplier Engagement and Training

To make sure that sustainability initiatives are consistently met, it is up to the governments to provide training and regularly engage with suppliers. It's not just about getting the best deal; it's about ensuring that the products and services procured align with sustainable practices. This requires ongoing collaboration between governments, suppliers, and other stakeholders, fostering a shared understanding of the rules of the game and a commitment to playing by them. By working together, we can create a procurement strategy that not only meets current needs but also ensures a sustainable and responsible future.

This is a shift in the entire scope of how procurement has worked for decades, and it will take a collaborative approach by all stakeholders to ensure the products delivered are adequate. 

How Greenwood Aerospace Helps With Sustainable Government Procurement

Greenwood Aerospace is committed to a sustainable future, which starts right now. We have deep connections in the industry to ensure only the most competent suppliers and manufacturers are contracted for this critical initiative. Greenwood Aerospace has spent years partnering in the space of atmospheric sciences with the Department of Energy (DOE), NASA, NOAA, the University of Wyoming, and the Battelle National Laboratories, to name a few. We have a vested interest in a sustainable future and will be your most trusted partner in contracting and procurement. 

Reach out to us today to get started, email us at contact@governmentprocurement.com, or request a quote on large orders. We can't wait to get started! 

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