National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP) and SciQuest, Inc., a procurement automation organization recently announced the findings of “The Current State of Green Procurement Trends within Higher Education” survey. The survey, which garnered responses from procurement professionals at more than 100 colleges and universities in the U.S., sought to provide a benchmark from which the profession can gauge the growing role of procurement organizations within sustainability efforts, from the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment–an effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions–to higher education’s efforts to contain costs and do more with less. This is the first year the survey was conducted.

Key Findings From The Study:

* Nearly half of respondents plan to institute a green purchasing policy in the next year. Currently, more than 62 percent of colleges and universities have a sustainability plan in place, but only 24 percent have green procurement policies in place to support them.

* There is a growing realization that procurement organizations significantly impact sustainability plans. Nearly half of respondents plan to institute a green purchasing policy in the next year. Currently, more than 62 percent of colleges and universities have a sustainability plan in place, but only 24 percent have green procurement policies in place to support them.

* The benefits of sustainability programs are multi-faceted. More than 85 percent of respondents believe the call to “do the right thing” is the most important reason for implementing sustainability initiatives and nearly 60 percent note that reducing costs is a key driver. Reducing carbon footprints and reducing consumption–both factors that directly relate to costs and in some cases are required by law–were deemed the most important reason by 74 percent and 70 percent of respondents respectively.

* Sustainability programs can complement business goals. Among institutions with sustainability programs in place, 43 percent see benefits in cost reduction and reduced liability.

* Most institutions do not have the eprocurement technology needed for successful green procurement programs. Only 30 percent of respondents have the ability to promote green certified suppliers and more than 60 percent have no way to determine how much is spent with them or on environmentally friendly products. Nearly two thirds of respondents cannot identify green vendors and five out of six cannot identify green products.

“We found that while formal green procurement policies are gaining momentum, they still need to become a reality at most institutions,” said Brian Yeoman, director of sustainable leadership at the NAEP. “Green procurement is a critical year away from leaving the planning phase and becoming actionable. This survey provides a valuable starting point for replicable efforts in the future and reveals the growing convergence of procurement and sustainability best practices within higher education.”

Eric Zoetmulder, director of product marketing at SciQuest  notes that the savings generated from successful green procurement programs bring benefits to a number of areas, including:

* Green products can be more cost effective. When brought under management through eprocurement systems, green products can be less expensive than less environmentally friendly alternatives.
* Bulk deliveries reduce carbon footprints and lower receiving and inventory costs. By aggregating purchases through the eprocurement system, the number of deliveries required of suppliers can be dramatically decreased–resulting in greater efficiency for all involved while decreasing the carbon footprint.
* Recycled packaging material can dramatically decrease disposal costs. Grading suppliers through the eprocurement system or mandating the use of recycled packaging materials can significantly lower landfill use and disposal fees.

For more information on NAEP’s “The Current State of Green Procurement Trends within Higher Education” survey and green purchasing, visit their web site.

Additional Resources:

Recommended Resources

Lean SCM Professional On-line Certification Program Lean SCM Professional On-line Certification Program
This On-line Certification Program has been developed in association with the American Institute of Industrial Engineers, the Irish Institute of Industrial Engineers, and the Canadian Professional Logistics Institute.
The Program consists of 9 on-line lessons that provide participants with a comprehensive overview of Lean Thinking and its application. It also outlines and demonstrates the essential lean tools and practices that can be applied to your business in order to achieve significant savings to your bottom line. It can be undertaken by individuals through on-line distance learning study.

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

Line Break

Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine,, Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine,, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.