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Agencies making switch to green products

Sep. 28, 2012 - 04:25PM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments

The Defense Logistics Agency is going green by switching to maintenance lubricants that are made with plant materials instead of petroleum.

The switch is part of the Defense Department’s effort to make sure 95 percent of its product purchases and services are environmentally friendly, Calvin Lee, branch chief of DLA’s aviation division, said Monday at the GreenGov 2012 symposium in Washington.

President Obama directed agencies in 2009 to ensure that new contracts require that 95 percent of products and services supplied or used are energy-efficient, water-efficient, bio-based, environmentally preferable, non-ozone depleting, recyclable, or non-toxic or less toxic alternatives.

Lee said DLA used the Agriculture Department’s Bio-Preferred program to find substitutes for the traditional lubricants and help meet the goal.

“We identified this area as one of the low-hanging fruits,” Lee said.

Jonathan Powers, federal environmental executive at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said agencies are making progress in identifying the right products and training their contracting officers to understand the different types of green products.

“You are seeing significant purchases of alternative and electric vehicles,” Powers said.

Contractors are also increasingly offering green products and services in their bid proposals without additional prompting from agencies, Powers said.

The Defense Department audits about 900 contracts out of more than 10 million to check how well it is doing at purchasing green products, said David Asiello, environmental technology program manager at the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations & Environment).

The audits show the 95 percent goal is being reached, he said.

DoD also brings new green products directly to installations to show how their performance is the same or higher than traditional products, which helps boost their use, he said.

“If the performance isn’t there, the sailors and soldiers and airmen are not going to use it no matter what we say,” Asiello said.

Ronald Robbins, sustainability performance management specialist at the U.S. Postal Service, said the agency has been building its portfolio of green products for more than 20 years while making sure it gets the best value for its purchase.

Purchases of green products measured $287 million in fiscal 2011, he said.

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