The Greening of Professional Services
Acceleration of green products in the marketplace over the past decade makes it easy for public procurement professionals implementing environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) policies to spend all their time focused on green commodity purchases such as paper, office supplies and lighting. After all, most of the market's ecolabels and related standards have focused on these types of goods. But what about professional services such as engineers, architects, health care services, and consultants? In contrast, among services, the green market barely makes a dent.
Common advice when first implementing an EPP policy is to "start with the low-hanging fruit." Advisers subsequently cite examples such as recycled-content paper, energy-efficient electronics and third-party certified cleaners, all of which are fairly common in the marketplace, have well-recognized ecolabels and are easily verifiable. In contrast, few such standards or ecolabels apply to professional services. Yet, for many municipalities, professional services make up the vast majority of their procurement spend. According to a recent article by Sarah Chacko in the Federal Times, "contract spending [by federal agencies] on 15 types of professional and management support services quadrupled from $10 billion in 2000 to $40 billion in 2010." Clearly, there is a lot of money being spent on these types of contracts. So where is the "low-hanging fruit"?
Read the entire story from Government Procurement, our sister publication.