University departments should consider the following factors and commodity identifiers when planning purchases of goods and services.

Sustainable PurchasingSource Reduction

Procurement activity may include:

  • Institute practices that reduce waste, resulting in the purchase of fewer products whenever practicable and cost-effective, but without reducing safety or workplace quality.
  • Purchase remanufactured products such as laser toner cartridges, tires, furniture, equipment and automotive parts whenever practicable, but without reducing safety, quality, or effectiveness.
  • Consider short-term and long-term costs in comparing product alternatives. Include evaluation of total costs expected during the time a product is owned, including, but not limited to, acquisition, extended warranties, operation, supplies, maintenance, disposal costs, and expected lifetime compared to other alternatives.
  • Purchase products that are durable, long lasting, reusable, or refillable.
  • Request that vendors eliminate packaging or use the minimum amount necessary for product protection to the greatest extent practicable.
  • Request packaging that is reusable, recyclable, or compostable when suitable uses and programs exist.
  • Reuse pallets and packaging materials.
  • Require that all equipment purchased, when practicable, be compatible with products and services that provide source reduction benefits.

Recycled Content Products

Procurement activity may include:

  • Products for which the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has established minimum recycled content standard guidelines - such as printing paper, office paper, janitorial paper, construction, landscaping, transportation, vehicles, and non-paper office products - and which contain the highest post-consumer content practicable, but no less than the minimum recycled content standards established by the U.S. EPA Guidelines.
  • Copiers and printers that can be used with recycled content products.
  • Re-refined lubricating and industrial oil for use in vehicles and other equipment, as long as the product is certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API) as appropriate for use in such equipment.
  • Asphalt concrete, aggregate base, or portland cement concrete for road construction projects that contains recycled, reusable, or reground materials.
  • Recycled content transportation products including signs, cones, parking stops, delineators, and barricades.

waterEnergy and Water Savings

Procurement activity may include:

  • Energy-efficient equipment with the most up-to-date energy efficiency functions including, but not limited to, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems.
  • Efficient lighting with energy-efficient equipment.
  • Products for which the U.S. EPA Energy Star certification is available and which meet Energy Star certification, when practicable. When Energy Star labels are not available, choose energy-efficient products that are in the upper 25% of energy efficiency as designated by the Federal Energy Management Program.
  • Water-saving products.


Procurement activity may include:

  • Employ sustainable landscape management techniques for design, construction and maintenance. These techniques include, but are not limited to, integrated pest management, grasscycling, drip irrigation, composting, and procurement and use of mulch and compost that give preference to those produced from regionally generated plant debris and/or food waste programs.
  • Minimize waste by selecting plants that are appropriate to the microclimate, species that can grow to their natural size in the space allotted them. Place preference on native and drought tolerant plants that require no or minimal watering once established.
  • Limit amount of impervious surfaces by procuring permeable substitutes such as permeable asphalt or pavers for walkways, patios, and driveways.

Toxic Products and Pollution

Procurement activity may include:

  • Refrain from procuring cleaning or disinfecting products (i.e. for janitorial or automotive use) containing carcinogens, mutagens, or teratogens. Chemicals to be avoided are listed by the U.S. EPA or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on the Toxics Release Inventory.
  • Phase out chlorofluorocarbon-containing refrigerants, solvents and similar products.
  • Procure readily biodegradable surfactants and detergents that do not contain phosphates.
  • Maintain buildings and landscapes, manage pest problems through the application of prevention techniques and physical, mechanical and biological controls
  • Procure products with the lowest amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), highest recycled content, and low or no formaldehyde in materials such as paint, carpeting, adhesives, furniture and casework.
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of products that contribute to the formation of dioxins and furans, including, but not limited to:
    • Paper, paper products, and janitorial paper products that are bleached or processed with chlorine or chlorine derivatives; and,
    • Products that use polyvinyl chloride (PVC), including, but not limited to, office binders, furniture, flooring, and medical supplies.
  • Procure products and equipment with contain no lead or mercury. For products containing lead or mercury, give consideration to those with lower quantities of these metals and to vendors with established lead and mercury recovery programs.
  • Consider vehicle procurement alternatives to diesel such as compressed natural gas, biobased fuels, hybrids, electric batteries, and fuel cells, as available.

Forest Conservation

Procurement activity may include:

  • Procure wood products such as lumber and paper that originate from forests harvested in an environmentally sustainable manner.
  • Give consideration to wood products that are certified sustainably harvested by a comprehensive, performance-based certification system. The certification system shall include independent third-party audits, with standards equivalent to, or stricter than, those of the Forest Stewardship Council certification.
  • When practicable, procure locally, sustainably harvested wood.

Who Buys What?

CU Procurement Service Center (PSC)

All general purchasing questions should be directed to the PSC at  The PSC is CU's centralized purchasing office located in Denver. Serving all CU campuses, the organization is responsible for buying goods and non-construction services. PSC contact: Katie Wilson

CU Boulder Facilities Management (Facilities)

Facilities provides a broad range of construction and maintenance services for campus facilities, grounds and infrastructure. Through a delegation of authority from the Office of the State Architect, Facilities is responsible for the procurement of all construction-related services, including professional services (i.e. architects, engineers, industrial hygienists, and general consultants). Facilities contact: Charlie Geanetta