From 2015 – 2016, RESOLVE facilitated a pilot process to test EPA’s draft guidelines for Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels for Federal Procurement. To test the draft guidelines, RESOLVE convened an expert and balanced group of stakeholders who piloted the guidelines in three product categories in the building sector (paints/coatings removers, flooring and furniture). EPA also coordinated a group of experts to explore potential future application in the services sector.
The pilot concluded in November 2016. Results of the Pilot and EPA’s recommendations of specifications, standards, and ecolabels for federal purchasing are available on the EPA website.
EPA’s overall objective in developing the guidelines is to create a transparent, fair, and consistent approach to selecting environmental performance standards and ecolabels that support the Agency’s mission and federal environmentally preferable purchasing mandates. The fundamental aim of the guidelines is to establish a cross-sector framework to be used in recognizing non-governmental environmental standards and ecolabels for use in federal procurement. By designating individual guidelines as baseline or leadership, EPA believes the Guidelines encourage continuous improvement of both standards and ecolabels and the products and services those standards and ecolabels address, while providing flexibility to accommodate the variety of approaches to and types of standards and ecolabels that exist in the marketplace today.
The pilot aims to address remaining questions regarding both the finalization of the guidelines and the proposed approach to assessing standards and ecolabels.
More specifically the primary goals of the pilot are to:
- Provide recommendations for refining, augmenting, and applying the guidelines in particular product categories – considering both previously received public comments and outcomes from the pilot’s expert and balanced stakeholder panels and associated work program.
- Convene three product panels – paints/coatings, flooring and furniture – to develop product category-specific assessment criteria (based on the guidelines) that one or more independent assessment entities will use to determine conformity of those standards and ecolabels that voluntarily submit their programs for pilot evaluation. Note that it is EPA’s intent to use the panel recommendations informed by these conformity assessment results in developing recommendations for meeting federal environmentally preferable purchasing mandates in these product categories (per EP 13693 Section 3).
- Determine in which circumstances, if any, the guidelines might not be a useful tool for assisting purchasers in achieving meaningful environmental and human health outcomes.
- Convene a fourth panel to provide preliminary analysis and recommendations regarding potential future application of the guidelines to service sector standards and ecolabels.
- Provide insights on if/how the guidelines could facilitate useful comparison among standards and ecolabels – for example distinguishing between baseline and higher performing criteria, and considering how to address product categories that have both: single-attribute or life-cycle stage standards as well as multi-attribute, multi-life-cycle stage standards, and stand-alone standards as well as ecolabels (which manage conformity to a standard).
- Test the long-term feasibility/potential for an appropriate external entity (or collaboration among entities) to work with multiple stakeholder panels and independent assessment entities to expand application of the guidelines and maintain up-to-date assessments as part of a self-sustaining program.
Previous Work and Government Mandates relating to the Guidelines
- EPA Responses to Key Themes Emerging from the November 2013-April 2014 Public Comment Period
- December 2014 Revised “Environmental Effectiveness” Guidelines (Section II)
- November 2013 Sections I, III and IV of the “Draft Guidelines” (revisions are pending)
- Executive Order 13693 — Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade
- Executive Order 13693 Implementing Instructions (see page 56 re: Non-Federal Specifications, Labels and Standards)
Who are we? RESOLVE is the primary contractor – joined by a team that includes Industrial Economics Inc. (IEc) and SEM Advisors – tasked by EPA to facilitate and administer the Pilot. Learn more about our team here!