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Interior’s Hardware Acquisition Team

Green Electronics Purchasing, the Department’s Office of the Secretary, Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington, D.C.

Alvin Vega, OCIO
Washington, DC
Phone: 202-513-0787
Email: Alvin_Vega@ios.doi.gov

Summary

In November 2004, in response to growing concerns that electronic equipment contain hazardous waste and should be managed properly, the Department joined 11 other Federal agencies to pledge their support for the Federal Electronics Challenge.  The Federal Electronics Challenge helps agencies purchase environmentally responsibly equipment, maintain equipment for longevity and energy efficiency, and dispose equipment responsibly.  The Hardware Acquisition Team quickly saw the opportunity to pursue all three objectives by pilot testing the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool criteria on the Department-wide mandatory use information technology (IT) hardware contract recompetition.  The contract supplies desktops, laptops, and monitors for over 70,000 Department employees, and is worth approximately $200 million over 5 years.  Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool  criteria address: Reduction of Use of Hazardous Substances, Materials Selection (Renewable/Biobased Materials and Recycled Content), Design for End of Product Life, Product Longevity, Energy Conservation (Energy Star), End of Life Management (Product take-back and proper disposal), Corporate Performance (Corporate Environmental Policies and manufacturer Environmental Management System), and Packaging (reduced Toxics in Packaging and Recyclable packaging materials).  Using the Federal Electronics Challenge Environmental Benefits Calculator, the contract has yielded the following environmental benefits.

  Savings Equivalent to
Energy 1,602 MWh Electricity to power 142 households/yr 
GHG Emissions 126 MTCE Removing 100 passenger cars from road/yr
Primary Materials 2,868 metric tons Weight of 22,219 refrigerators
Toxic Materials 710 kg Weight of 355 bricks
Hazardous Waste 26.3  kg Weight of 13,130 bricks
Air Emissions 6,624 metric tons  
Water Emissions 13.9 metric tons  

Since greening the contract was so successful, and the consolidated contract cost avoids over $7 million per year, the Chief Technology Officer Council officially chartered the Hardware Acquisition Team in spring 2007.  The Hardware Acquisition Team continues to ensure that the Department’s hardware contract meets and exceeds the Department’s Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool purchasing requirements under Executive Order 13423 and the Office of Management and Budget Environmental Stewardship Scorecard.  The Hardware Acquisition Team works diligently to include Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool the Department’s IT purchasing policies.  For example, Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool is a mandatory requirement in the Department IT hardware purchasing Standard Operating Procedures.  Knowing the significance of this procurement, the Department shared its experiences with other Federal entities, including procurement officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Social Security Administration.  The Department representatives continue to participate in conferences and workshops around the country to promote the use of Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool in IT hardware contracts and share lessons learned.  Through these efforts, the Department has paved the way for the Federal Government to use of Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool to prevent millions of pounds of hazardous materials from entering the waste stream in subsequent Federal IT hardware contracts, as well as by other institutions.


Detailed Description

Background

In November 2004, in response to growing concerns that electronic equipment, such as desktop computers, laptops, and monitors were not being managed properly as hazardous waste, the Department of the Interior (DOI) joined eleven other federal agencies to pledge their support for the Federal Electronics Challenge (FEC).  The FEC helps agencies reduce negative impacts of electronic equipment through life-cycle stewardship through environmentally responsibly purchasing, maintenance for equipment longevity and energy efficiency, and environmentally responsible disposal.

DOI quickly saw the opportunity to pursue all three objectives with its upcoming DOI-wide Information Technology (IT) Hardware Contracts re-competition.

Near the end of 2004, DOI began discussions to prepare for the re-compete of the Department-wide mandatory source IT Hardware Contract. This contract supplies desktops, laptops, monitors, and printers for over 70,000 DOI employees (see attachment 1), and is worth approximately $200 million over 5 years.

After early discussions with representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DOI made the decision to “green” the new contract in order to secure environmental benefits.  This action sent a clear message to the computer manufacturing industry that the Department of Interior was serious about procuring environmentally preferable electronics.  

Electronics Procurement Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)

The EPEAT is a voluntary standard for certifying a host of environmentally preferable electronics products, such as desktop computers and monitors.  DOI served on the EPEAT development committee along with other key stakeholders including computer manufacturers, electronics recyclers, academia, non-profit environmental groups, institutional purchasers, and government regulators.  In its final form, the EPEAT is a rating system with three tiers of environmental performance recognition:  bronze; silver; and gold. 

EPEAT criteria address: Reduction of Use of Hazardous Substances, Materials Selection (Renewable/Bio-Based Materials and Recycled Content), Design for End of Product Life, Product Longevity (Availability of additional warranty or service agreements), Energy Conservation (Energy Star), End of Life Management (Product take-back and proper disposal), Corporate Performance (Corporate Environmental Policy and manufacturer Environmental Management System), and Packaging (reduced Toxics in Packaging and Recyclable packaging materials).

Market Research

Before incorporating EPEAT into the contract, DOI had to answer two questions; can the IT industry comply with EPEAT criteria and, if so, at what costs? The HAT addressed these questions in two ways: 1) DOI drafted the “Greening Market Survey” with thirty-eight technical questions (e.g. Does product contain bio-based components; Does product contain Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffin’s; etc.) taken from the draft EPEAT criteria; and 2) DOI hosted a “Vendor’s Day” in Reston, VA., to brief hardware manufacturers on the type of equipment DOI intended to seek on the IT contract.  It was at this session that the EPEAT requirements were explained in detail. After the presentation, the HAT met with each vendor to hear their concerns.  The Greening Market Survey received vendor attention, and DOI received good feedback from thirteen vendors addressing market readiness and cost.

Greening the Contract

To pilot test the draft EPEAT criteria on DOI’s $200 million contract, the HAT first secured support from their senior management. The HAT presented the pros and cons of EPEAT, market research, and DOI’s commitment to electronic stewardship at the highest levels of management. The Office of the Chief Information Officer, DOI Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) gave their support to greening the contracts.

After reviewing market data  the HAT included the nearly 30 draft EPEAT criteria into each of the hardware technical specifications for twelve products (see attachment 2). 

In addition, greening criteria were established for printers available under the same contract.

Each product had sixty specifications or requirements.  Of these sixty, over twenty directly addressed environmental performance. For example:  Product should contain renewable/bio-based materials; Product shall comply with provisions of European Union RoHS directive one year from the effective date of the contract; and Manufacturer should create product in a facility with an Environmental Management System certified (ISO 14000).  

Modifying the EPEAT criteria for incorporation into the technical specifications, answering vendor’s questions in the RFP’s, and the subsequent amendments to the specifications took the Team six months of intensive work, conference calls, and collaborative editing of amendments.

The HAT had little margin of error. The potential negative impact could have been that if the incorporation of the greening criteria resulted in a solicitation protest, the Team would have had to essentially start its work all over again -  losing over nine months of hard work by a dedicated few individuals.  Also, EPEAT itself would have had a black mark on its reputation and its subsequent roll-out would have been damaged.  DOI worked efficiently and effectively to ensure that it was fully supporting this extremely important environmental effort without jeopardizing the procurement.

The Road Ahead

Since greening the contract was so successful and the consolidated contract yielded many significant benefits, the Chief Technology Officer Council (CTOC) chartered the IT HAT working group in spring 2007. The HAT will continue to ensure that the Department’s Hardware Contracts meet and exceed DOI’s EPEAT purchasing requirements, under Executive Order 13423 and the OMB Environmental Stewardship Scorecard.

The HAT is diligently working to include EPEAT into DOI’s IT purchasing policy. EPEAT will be a mandatory requirement in DOI IT Hardware purchasing Standard Operating Procedures, and HAT works closely with DOI Electronics Stewardship Task Force to implement requirements under Executive Order 13423 and the OMB Environmental Stewardship Scorecard.

Because of the HAT’s work in greening the contract and DOI’s commitment to the electronics stewardship, DOI received a “green” on the OMB Environmental Stewardship Scorecard.

Because of the HAT members work, DOI is a government leader in implementing Executive Order 13423.

Benefits to the Federal Government & Sharing Lessons Learned

Through these efforts, DOI has paved the way for the use of EPEAT to prevent millions of pounds of hazardous materials from entering the waste stream in subsequent federal IT hardware contracts, as well as by other institutions. 

Knowing the significance of this procurement, DOI has shared its experiences with other federal entities including procurement officials from the EPA, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Social Security Administration. DOI representatives continue to participate in conferences and workshops around the country to promote the use of EPEAT in IT hardware contracts and share lessons learned.

From September 2005 – February 2007, use of the draft EPEAT criteria in DOI’s IT Hardware contract has yielded significant pollution prevention results.  Using the Federal Electronics Challenge Environmental Benefits Calculator and the numbers of products purchased under the contract, the contract has yielded the following environmental benefits.

  Savings Equivalent to
Energy 1,602 MWh Electricity to power 142 households/yr 
GHG Emissions 126 MTCE Removing 100 passenger cars from road/yr
Primary Materials 2,868 metric tons Weight of 22,219 refrigerators
Toxic Materials 710 kg Weight of 355 bricks
Hazardous Waste 26.3  kg Weight of 13,130 bricks
Air Emissions 6,624 metric tons  
Water Emissions 13.9 metric tons  

HAT Accomplishments and Impact

  • The HAT made DOI the first federal agency to use EPEAT in a large IT contract.
  • Contract yielded over $7m in cost avoidance and provides efficient product standardization.
  • Proved EPEAT is a successful tool paving the way for its use by other agencies.
  • Helped DOI get a “green” on the OMB Environmental Stewardship Scorecard.
  • Mentored other federal entities, including DHS and VA, in how to incorporate EPEAT into their large IT contracts.  
  • HAT is still together and working toward helping DOI to be one of the first agencies to meeting EPEAT purchasing requirements under EO 13423.

Additional Information

  • HAT roster moremore
  • Hardware Specifications including greening moremore

 


U.S. Department of the Interior

Greening of the Interior

catherine_cesnik@ios.doi.gov