UCSB Sustainable Purchasing Program

Welcome to the homepage of UCSB‘s Sustainable Procurement Program, a resource for institutions and
individuals interested in learning more about environmentally preferable purchasing and sustainable business practices.

Why Sustainability?

Because the purchasing power of the University of California is so large, it has the capacity to shift markets and drive technology toward a more sustainable model. Being an institution for higher learning, the UC is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to be proactive in its
transition toward sustainability, and the ability to educate our communities about the importance and feasibility of these initiatives. Accounting for the total cost of ownership for the purchasing decisions
we make can also create cost savings, especially with energy and disposal costs.

Using environmentally preferable purchasing as a tool to bring the campus closer to sustainability gained traction several years ago as a student effort and has now become an important part of university and system-wide business processes. Sustainable purchasing efforts have been truly collaborative as they require interaction from multiple stakeholders at all levels of decision making on campus. As UCSB moves forward, it is looking to increasingly shift toward environmentally preferable products and services, and a more sustainable campus environment.

What is Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP)?

EPP is a strategy that seeks to procure products and services with a reduced or minimal (ideally zero) environmental impact as compared to other similar products/services that serve the same purpose. In so much as “environmental” is defined in the scope of a product or service it pertains to the following:

  • Chemical use
  • Disposal
  • Durability and lifecycles
  • Energy efficiency and conservation
  • Human health
  • Manufacturing and transportation process
  • Necessity
  • Packaging
  • Price
  • Recycled content
  • Social concerns
  • Waste
  • Water efficiency and conservation


Sustainable Purchasing Website 
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Resources for California Local Governments

Guidelines and Criteria: Commodities

Most EPP specifications vary from product to product. Below you will
find some basic guidelines and criteria that can serve as a reference
point for some of the most commonly purchased products on campus. For
more information, please also see Databases and Third Party Certification Standards.

Office supplies:

  • Eliminate virgin paper by only purchasing recycled content paper for all printing needs. Post consumer waste content is available at 30%, 50%, and 100% at Central Stores or through Office Max. To go even further, seek FSC certified paper products with established sustainable harvesting standards.
  • When purchasing office supplies through Gateway, search for the products with recycled content.
  • Seek out and purchase file folders, envelopes, post-its, pads, binders, office organizers and all other relevant products with recycled content.
  • Purchase refillable and reusable pens, and pencils made from recycled materials.
  • Purchase re-furbished and/or remanufactured toner cartridges. For more information on how to do so at UCSB visit the Central Stores website.
  • Request non-toxic, unscented, low emission pens and markers.

Electronics, appliances, and computers:

  • Only purchase Energy Star rated equipment and specify that energy saving features come enabled and defaulted as factory settings.
  • Centralize and share appliances such as refrigerators, copiers, printers, and faxes.
  • Set up printing equipment to print on both sides of the paper.
  • For all desktop computers, laptops, and monitors, require bronze registration under the Electronics Products Environmental Assessment tool (EPEAT).
  • Request products made with recycled materials, and that have low emissions in terms of indoor environmental quality.
  • Recycling of old computers and electronic appliances is a requirement. Be sure to work through a responsible recycler who has signed the Electronics Recyclers Pledge of True Stewardship.
  • Be sure to wipe your computer’s hard drive when you are ready to dispose of it, and then contact Central Storesregarding recycling services.


  • Establish a minimum warranty of 5 years on chairs and interconnecting panels, and 10 years for workstations and filing cabinets.
  • Select seating and furniture with ergonomic designs, click for more information about UCSB’s Ergonomics at Workprogram.
  • Require furniture designed to be disassembled and enhanced with new or retrofitted parts, versatile and interchangeable designs, and fully recycled at the products end of use.
  • Specify products and specifically metals and plastics that are made from materials containing the maximum amount of post-consumer and post-industrial recycled content.
  • Ensure that the furniture’s foams do not contain CFCs or HCFCs, and that items have low-emissions to avoid harmful off gassing.
  • Require that wood products are grown and harvested in a sustainable manner and the appropriate 3rd Party Certification Standards such as a rating from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
  • Require vendors/dealer/installers to provide a recycling or recovery service for the responsible reuse, remanufacture, or recycling of old furniture.

Cleaning and custodial supplies:

  • Require Green Seal certified products for indoor environmental quality and green cleaning.
  • Implement a centralized portion controlled disbursement system of chemicals with reusable bottles.
  • Seek out strategies for source reduction, product consolidation, environmentally preferable product alternatives, inventory management, recycling, and compliance with LEED-EB compliance.
  • Improve interior entrance areas and walkways with larger doormats that capture particles and improve indoor environmental quality.
  • Require product training and testing in multiple languages for custodial staff.
  • Purchase uncut custodial and cleaning paper products that are made from 100% post-consumer waste.

Food services:

  • Purchase locally grown and organic food products.
  • Use disposables that are either bio-degradable or recyclable, and made from bio-based, non-bleached, or recycled content materials.
  • Set up composting programs for food waste.
  • Specify the need for packaging that can be recycled and/or composted.

Operations and Maintenance:

  • Require vendors to provide energy and water efficient equipment.
  • Utilize 3rd Party Certification Standards and rating systems such as Energy Star and Green Seal when making product selections.
  • Distinguish LEED and specifically LEED-EB as an operational standard for building maintenance. Work with vendors to evaluate product and service offering that improve, streamline, and
    assist in meeting LEED targets.
  • Ask (and require) vendors to provide recycling services for items such as batteries, old equipment, or where there is a need as applicable.