You may be surprised to hear that federal, state and local governments really do care about what they purchase and how it will affect people and the environment. Over the last 20 years or so, governments have been focusing more on purchasing environmentally friendly and energy-efficient products and services. What does this mean for businesses? For vendors who provide green products or services, it means that it’s a great time to start bidding on government contracts and growing your business as public agencies and individuals become more environmentally conscious.
President Clinton’s Executive Order
In 1998, then-President Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order titled “Greening the Government through Waste Prevention, Recycling and Federal Acquisition”. What this order did was to create guidelines for government agencies to follow if they decided they wanted to purchase goods and services that were more environmentally friendly. According to epa.gov, these are products and services (such as raw materials, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, operation, maintenance or disposal services) that have a reduced negative impact on human health and the environment.
“Green” Opportunities for Businesses in 2016
Today, you can find many open government solicitations that are all about going green. Products such as energy efficient lighting, appliances, and items that require installation such as windows, doors, and roofs are in high demand; as well, cleaning supplies that are GS-37 (Green Seal) certified are also among the many green items that public agencies solicit for. These represent huge opportunities for smaller companies who sell strictly green products and also for service companies (such as janitorial businesses) who don’t have a large staff, because these solicitations contribute to job stability thanks to long term contracts and a fixed contract rate. These opportunities can also help businesses expand by encouraging them to hire more employees and do business in different territories around the state, or even nationwide.
Green Construction Standards: Protecting the Environment
Another area where the government is taking the initiative to go green is during the construction or renovation of state-owned buildings. For example, since 2009 New York State has implemented green standards of building construction which require that new buildings are designed with sustainability in mind and meet government standards for energy efficiency, water efficiency, sustainable materials & resources, indoor environmental quality and general operations.
According to the state:
Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by
- Efficiency using energy, water and other resources
- Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
- Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation
For example, green buildings may incorporate sustainable materials in their construction (e.g. reused, recycle-content, or made from renewable sources); create healthy indoor environments with minimal pollutants (e.g. reduced product emissions); and/or feature landscaping that reduces water usage (e.g. by using native plants that survive without extra watering)
According to the EPA, the built environment has a large impact on human health, the environment and the economy. By adopting these green strategies, economic and environmental performance of the built environment can be maximized. The EPA lists the environmental, economic and social benefits of green strategies as follows:
- Enhance and protect biodiversity and ecosystems
- Improve air and water quality
- Reduce waste streams
- Conserve and restore natural resources
- Reduce operating costs
- Create, expand, and shape markets for green product and services
- Improve occupant productivity
- Optimize life-cycle economic performance
- Enhance occupant comfort and health
- Heighten aesthetic qualities
- Minimize strain on local infrastructure
- Improve overall quality of life
For states like New York, where there are many state buildings and campuses that require renovations or the construction of new buildings, this means big opportunities for contractors: there will be more projects to bid on, successful bids will help build vendors’ reputations as successful and reliable companies, and won contracts will help create more jobs in the area.
As individuals and governments become increasingly environmentally friendly in their day-to-day practices, “Green” products and services will remain in high demand, leading to more government contracts being posted and more opportunities for companies to expand their business and increase employment rates in their regions.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com
 n.p. “Green Building.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. Epa.gov, 9 Oct. 2014. Web. 9 July 2015