Sustainable Procurement Policy

The City of Orlando recognizes its role as a responsible partner in its local and global community and strives to minimize negative impacts on human health and the environment. To support this goal, the city is proposing to embed sustainable considerations in the solicitation process that are fiscally responsible, promote worker health, conserve natural resources and prevent pollution.

The SPP aims to institutionalize sustainability-preferable decision-making into the City of Orlando procurement process. Working together, the city can leverage its substantial buying power to benefit local and global environments, while advancing the city’s sustainability and resiliency goals. The SPP will assist the city in procuring sustainable goods and services by developing sustainability specification guidance, providing training, resources and consulting services, vendor outreach, and tracking progress toward sustainable spend goals.

  • Reduce energy use and promote energy efficiency
  • Reduce water use and conserve water resources
  • Enhance indoor and outdoor environmental quality
  • Encourage the use of reusable and recyclable products
  • Reduce materials that are placed in landfills (i.e. promote circular economy)
  • Reduce the environmental impact of materials
  • Assess and consider climate change risks and vulnerabilities

How and why is SPPS important to the city?
It is the city’s vision is to transform Orlando into one of the most environmentally friendly, economically and socially vibrant communities in the nation. Most of an organization’s ecological footprint lies within their supply chain. Therefore as the city works towards citywide sustainability, we must also look to our partners and global supply chain to truly reach our goals. Sustainable purchasing is purchasing that builds healthy communities, economies, and environments all along local and global supply chains.

What is an sustainability preferable product or service?
A sustainability-preferred product or service (SPPS) is a product or service that has a lesser or reduced impact on human health and the environment when compared to competing products or services. An SPPS considers social and environmental factors such as recycled content, toxicity, energy or water consumption, waste, air emissions, end of life disposal, and fair-trade practices as appropriate to a given product or service.

What is sustainable purchasing and how does it differ from environmentally preferable purchasing?
For the purposes of the Sustainable Procurement Policy, “Sustainable Purchasing” and “Environmentally Preferable Purchasing” are synonymous terms. However, when using terms in a technical context, environmentally preferable purchasing is an activity that focuses primarily on environmental impacts, whereas sustainable purchasing encompasses how purchases impact the environment, economy, and people today and in future generations. All environmental issues fit within the rubric of sustainability.

Is using sustainable specification guidance required by law or policy?
The intent of this policy is for city employees to make a good faith effort to incorporate and balance these SPPS factors to the maximum extent possible. This policy does not require purchasing in alignment with the Sustainable Procurement Policy, but is intended to strongly encourage participation for all products and services. The U.S. government has federal sustainability requirements since 1993 through their Environmentally Preferable Program (EPP) which was designed to help federal agencies purchase greener products and use this spending power to support these efforts.

Who do I contact if I need help understanding guidance documents or developing an EPPS solicitation?
The Office of Sustainability & Resilience, led by Chris Castro, is available to answer any questions you may have about the policy. For questions on the SPP, please use the general Green Works Orlando email address:

If some of the products included in the solicitation meet SPPS requirements and others do not, what should I do?
For products like office or cleaning supplies where the solicitations contain a number of individual products, it is likely some products being required will be sustainable and others will not. The intent of the Sustainable Procurement Policy is to provide guidance on the approved third-party eco-labels and definitions of SPP that the city encourages as we make a purchase. It is not required to strictly follow the Sustainable Procurement Policy, but encourage you to make a good faith effort to support the city’s sustainability goals.

My agency is really into sustainability! We want to be a sustainable purchasing leader in the District. How can we take it up a notch?
The Sustainable Procurement Policy offers product-focused guidance to ensure your purchasing aligns with the city’s priorities. The Office of Sustainability & Resilience offers an annual Mayor’s Green Works Academy that provides a holistic and comprehensive overview of sustainability and how we incorporate these practices across the City of Orlando. We encourage you to speak to your Department/Division/Office director to seek approval for applying to the Mayor’s Green Works Academy. 

I would like to develop an SPPS solicitation for a product category for which sustainable guidance is not available, what should I do?
Great! Please contact the Office of Sustainability & Resilience (OSR) at OSR will continue to develop guidance for new product categories on a rolling basis. We also are available to assist in developing solicitations for new SPPS categories as time allows. Please also notify us if your agency has developed an SPPS solicitation for a new product category as we would welcome the opportunity to build upon your work and share it with other agencies. Please contact us to discuss how we can work together.

I have a suggested improvement for guidance for a specification. What should I do?
Please contact the Office of Sustainability & Resilience at

Which products and services does the city maintain sustainable guidance for?
The Sustainable Procurement Policy maintains in-depth resources and guidance for various product categories, encompassing more than 100 unique products.

How were the sustainable product categories chosen?
The City of Orlando, in alignment with the U.S. General Services Administration (U.S. GSA), has outlined the product categories that most align with local governments. These products were vetted and approved by an executive order.

How were sustainable specifications developed?
Sustainable specifications were developed with a heavy emphasis on stakeholder input. For a given product category the Sustainable Procurement Policy conducted in-depth interviews with vendors and manufacturers, focus groups with Orlando program managers that use the product or service, and a review of sustainable specification language that other jurisdictions were already utilizing. The specs only include language for products and services that research suggests will be readily available, will meet the needs of a program, and are reasonably priced.

Is there a specific price percentage premium that I need to be aware of that indicates whether I need to purchase, or not purchase, a sustainable product?
No. The Sustainable Procurement Policy does not establish a finite price premium percentage that informs the decision to purchase, or not purchase, a sustainable product. Rather, we rely on the judgment and good faith effort of our procurement teams to make this decision. Choosing a specific price premium percentage would have been exceedingly difficult to implement, and would have created unacceptable strain on our resources. Instead, the Sustainable Procurement Policy team conducted basic price analysis on all relevant products as each specification was developed. If a sustainable product seemed prohibitively expensive, had questionable performance issues, or were not readily available in the marketplace, you will not find it in the specification.

We encourage you to perform life-cycle assessments (LCA’s) where relevant in order to help make the most fiscally responsible decision over the long-term. This will help with deciding whether to get a cheaper product, versus a product that has a much longer useful life and mitigate the need to continually purchase the product.

Don’t sustainable products cost more than normal products?
It depends. There is a common misconception that all sustainable products will cost more than their counter parts, but this is not true. Some products do cost more, although in the life-cycle assessment they end up being the more cost-effective choice in the long run (e.g. incandescent light bulbs versus LED light bulbs). There are also many products that are relatively similar in price, and a host of other products that are actually cheaper, especially when considering products that save energy over the course of their life.

I am a vendor, how can I find sustainable solicitations? Can I register to be a vendor of sustainable products?
The city does not maintain a unique certification for Sustainable Vendors, nor does it maintain a list of sustainable solicitation opportunities. Rather, the goal of the Sustainable Procurement Program is to provide District agencies with sustainable specification language that can be included in market research. Vendors are encouraged to review sustainable specifications and provide recommendations for more sustainable choices. They may also provide information on their company’s sustainable practices, certifications and commitments.