Sustainable Procurement

For details about this credit, including the criteria, reporting timeframe, applicability, scoring, and more, please review the full credit language:

Data Accuracy Video

Frequently Asked Questions

How has this credit changed between STARS 2.1 to 2.2?

Substantive changes have been made to this credit. Commodity categories and expectations around a vendor code of conduct clarified, and an office products category that includes wood and paper products has been added. A comprehensive list of differences can be found in the 2.2 Summary of changes.

What’s the difference between LCCA and LCA?

LCCA is a method for assessing the total cost of ownership over the life cycle of a product or system (i.e., purchase, installation, operation, maintenance, and disposal). Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), by contrast, is a method for assessing the environmental impacts of a product or service over its life cycle. While LCAs may inform the sustainability criteria recognized in Part 3 of this credit, Part 2 specifically recognizes institutions that employ LCCA.

Definition of Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA): Total cost of ownership (TCO) estimates the total life cycle direct and indirect costs of an asset in a single monetary figure. Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) is the process used to estimate an asset’s TCO. In addition to purchase price, LCCA incorporates future costs such as maintenance, replacement of parts, energy use and disposal, and evaluates them on the basis of Net Present Value. LCCA can also be used to incorporate environmental and social life cycle costs, such as the cost of purchasing pollution offsets or monitoring labor practices.

An institution earns 1 point for Part 2 of this credit for employing Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) as a matter of policy and standard practice when evaluating all energy­ and water­ using products and systems. Partial points are available for institutions that employ LCCA less comprehensively. Practices may include structuring RFPs so that vendors compete on the basis of lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) in addition to (or instead of) purchase price.

If claiming in Part 2 that your institution employs LCCA, the supporting information must back it up.

Can information on current practices count for Part 3 of this credit?

Descriptive responses in Part 3 must reference policies, guidelines, or sustainability criteria that are published, rather than practices, which are recognized elsewhere in STARS. Note: The last category for “Other” must reference valid commodity-specific criteria not covered by the other categories listed.

What types of policies can be counted in Part 1?

The policy referenced in Part 1 must be a general purchasing policy that references environmental and/or social preferences. For example:

  • A stated preference for post-consumer recycled or bio-based content or to otherwise minimize the negative environmental impacts of products and services.
  • A stated intent to support disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises and/or local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or otherwise support positive social and economic impacts and minimize negative impacts.
  • A vendor code of conduct or equivalent policy that sets expectations about the social and environmental responsibility of the institution’s business partners (i.e., product and service providers).

Note: Commodity-specific policies are covered under Part 3 of this credit.

What is the difference between a plan and a policy?

In general, plans outline measurable objectives that the institution commits to doing in the future (e.g., reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030). In contrast,  policies or guidelines outline standards, mandates and recommendations that the institution is currently requiring or recommending (e.g., a stated preference for ENERGY STAR or EPEAT registered products). While a published plan may include guidelines or policies, this information must be made clear within the descriptive response. Note: Measurable objectives within formal plans are covered under Sustainability Planning (PA-2).

Templates & Tools

Example Responses

  • Black Hills State University – Comprehensive array of purchasing policies and standards. Good documentation of standards provided.
  • University of Calgary – Preferred vendor program includes commitment to sustainability and sustainability is integrated into contracts. Good examples of published sustainability criteria for commodity specific products.

Common Issues Identified During Review

  • Part 1: There must be a general purchasing policy across multiple commodity categories, institution-wide.. Commodity-specific policies are covered under Part 3 and should not be referenced under Part 1.
  • Part 2: If claiming that “Institution employs LCCA as a matter of policy and standard practice when evaluating all energy- and water-using products, systems and building components”, the supporting info must back it up. This credit covers LCCA, but not LCA.  
  • Part 3: Descriptions must reference actual policies for the purchase of products/services, rather than practices, which are recognized elsewhere in STARS. 
  • Policies and directives adopted by entities of which the institution is part (e.g., government or the university system) may count for this credit as long as the policies apply to and are followed by the institution. Institutions belonging to a system are encouraged to review responses from other institutions within the system.

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