Emma Olsen

UC Santa Barbara is a leader in sustainability, the university’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative focuses on climate research, improving energy efficiency, increasing renewable energy, and implementing strategies to reduce carbon emissions. UC Santa Barbara is also expanding its focus beyond the Carbon Neutrality Initiative to reduce emissions in our supply chain. The supply chain accounts for a significant portion of a campus’ total emissions, these are the greenhouse gases that are released from the production of goods and services an institution purchases. It is important to understand the incredible amount of goods and services that a university purchases; all of the materials used in the construction and renovation of campus buildings, the hardware and software for computers and phones, office and printing supplies, laboratory supplies, food services, and the transit and freight required to move all of these products. All of these goods and services that a campus purchases have a significant environmental impact. According to a report published by the West Coast Climate Forum, the supply chain comprises nearly 40% of an educational institutions’ total emissions. These emissions are created all along the supply chain, beginning with the extraction of raw materials, production, manufacturing, and packaging, all the way to the transportation and distribution stages. Additionally, further emissions result throughout the life cycle of a product or service, from its use, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal. Find out more about UC Santa Barbara’s commitment to climate action through purchasing in this video.  

The University of California has developed Sustainable Procurement Guidelines in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of the UC’s purchases. These guidelines establish the minimum sustainability requirements for products and services purchased by the institution. The guidelines primarily encourage the reduction of unnecessary purchases, the purchase of surplus or multiple-use products, and the use of recyclable, compostable, or other certified sustainable products. Overall, these policies exist to reduce the social, economic, and environmental impacts that result from our procurement of goods and services on our local and global community, in alignment with the University’s dedication to being a leader in sustainability. 

UC Santa Barbara’s Procurement Services is dedicated to improving the campus’ sustainability practices. UC Santa Barbara is committed to meeting or exceeding its own Sustainable Procurement and Use Practices, which delineates their preference for products or services with a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. UC Santa Barbara seeks to maximize the procurement of environmentally-friendly products from socially responsible sources. 

Heather Perry, UCSB’s Sustainable Procurement Program Manager, highlighted some of Procurement Services’ recent accomplishments. The Chief Procurement Officer, along with the Director of Campus Sustainability, recently signed the Center for Environmental Health’s pledge to purchase safe furniture that is free of harmful toxins. This year, UC Santa Barbara became an EPA Smartway Affiliate, a market-driven initiative that empowers businesses to move goods in the cleanest, most energy-efficient way possible to protect public health and reduce emissions. Additionally, UC Santa Barbara Procurement has implemented a new sustainable shopping tool: uc.ecomedes.com. For example, purchasers can use Ecomedes to find furniture that meets the criteria in the Safer Furniture Pledge. This video explains how to use the Ecomedes guidelines to purchase sustainably through Gateway. 

UC Santa Barbara strives to achieve the system-wide 25% Preferred Green Level Spend. Green Level Spend refers to the money spent on the products that meet the UC Preferred Level of environmental sustainability criteria. For example, ENERGY STAR electronics, Green Seal cleaning supplies, post-consumer recycled content office supplies, and WaterSense certified appliances are all recognized certifications and standards that qualify as green spending. Additionally, UC Santa Barbara is aiming for 25% spend with Economically and Socially Responsible Suppliers. This entails spending on products or services supplied by businesses that hold UC-recognized classifications or certifications that have a positive impact on society and/or the economy. The Small and Diverse Business Program exists to encourage purchasing from Economically and Socially Responsible (EaSR) suppliers, such as suppliers that are certified under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program. Department buyers can help the University achieve it’s 25% EaSR goal by searching for suppliers through EcoVadis and Supplier.io Explorer, platforms that assess an organization’s social responsibility practices, or small and diverse business status, respectively. 

Stay up-to-date on UC Santa Barbara’s Sustainable Procurement efforts by visiting the website and emailing procurement-news@lists.ucsb.edu to subscribe to their newsletter.