2015 Leadership Awards Winner Abstracts

Below are brief descriptions of the work that the 2015 SPLC Leadership Awards Winners did to merit their distinctions. Full descriptions of their work, as well as the 29 other case studies submitted by the 22 Outstanding Case Study Award recipients, will soon be available in the SPLC Case Study Database. To be able to access the Database, join SPLC as a member.


Purchaser Leadership Award for Overall Program – U.S. Department of Energy

Josh Silverman & Shab Fardanesh, U.S. Department of Energy
U.S. DoE GreenBuy Award Program
The U.S. Department of Energy has been on the forefront of sustainable acquisition since the 1990s—always seeking innovative ways to help DOE sites transition to healthier, environmentally friendlier products. One of the most recent innovations is the DOE GreenBuy Award Program that is based on purchasing products that meet specific environmental standards or attributes.

DOE realized that the market is moving at a much quicker pace than the requirements for green purchasing. DOE’s Sustainable Acquisition Working Group developed a voluntary process that looked at the most common purchases relevant to its sites and evaluated the products with the highest sustainable components available for purchase in these categories. The result is DOE’s GreenBuy Award Program, which recognizes those sites that go beyond minimum expectations to purchase more sustainable products.

As a strategy, DOE sites embed sustainable acquisition into their Environmental Management System (EMS). The EMS process, which follows the classic “plan-do-check-act” model, aligns with the Council’s Guidance:

  • launch the process (engaging internal stakeholders—DOE sites—and external stakeholders—manufacturers and vendors),
  • analyze spending (using dollars spent to identify which products to focus on first),
  • plan strategies (encouraging stakeholders to prioritize which products to focus on, set goals to transition to one or more sustainable products a year, identify the pertinent purchasing system),
  • win commitment (helping management, specifiers, and purchasing staff understand how important sustainable acquisition is to accomplishing their mission), and
  • report results (cross share information on a variety of tracking systems, especially specifying sustainable acquisition standards and attributes in contracts along with requiring reporting, evaluate progress, renew efforts, and report results).

The GreenBuy Award Program covers chemically intensive products, construction and renovation products, food, IT hardware and services, and wood and agrifiber products.


Purchaser Leadership Award for Special Initiative – County of Alameda

Karen Cook, Alameda County
Copy Paper Impact Reduction Initiative
Alameda County has set goals to support paper recycling collection markets; reduce the environmental, social and economic impacts associated with virgin wood fiber use; and address the climate impacts of our day-to-day operations. To achieve these goals, they implemented strategic activities including reducing their use, buying better paper, and leveraging their efforts to advance green purchasing efforts locally.
The County has reduced its annual copy paper use from its peak use year in 2009 by 4,000 cases.

This reduction, in combination with their significant transition to using primarily 100% post-consumer recycled content paper, has resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 86 passenger cars from the road annually. In 2014, these efforts resulted in a net cost savings of approximately $120,000. By setting a minimum recycled content level of 100% post-consumer recycled content in their 2014 paper contract, the County ensured bidders were incentivized to offer the best price possible. This strategy realized a per-case cost reduction of more than $3.00 over the previous contract price for this high-recycled content product.

To date, three local public agencies have been able to transition to 100% PCR paper at the County’s price by piggybacking on this contract. By piggybacking, they are able to receive our volume discount pricing and also achieve operational efficiencies by eliminating their need to run a competitive procurement process.
By opening the bid to only those businesses currently certified by Alameda County as a Small, Local and Emerging Business, the County is able to provide enhanced contracting opportunities for qualified vendors and promote local business economic opportunities.


Supplier Leadership Award, Supplier of Goods & Services – Office Depot

Yalmaz Siddiqui, Office Depot
Advancing Sustainability by Engaging Customers
For more than 15 years, Office Depot has been on a journey toward customer-centric sustainability – a journey that started reactively but has evolved proactively – not just for the company and its customers, but potentially for an entire marketplace. These initiatives have included:This effort has included selling greener as a supplier, and doing so independently. One of Office Depot’s first initiatives was publishing the company’s Recycled Products Catalog in 1999. This catalog featured the few hundred products in Office Depot’s assortment that contained 10% or more post-consumer recycled content.

In 2003, Office Depot received Green Seal Certification for its top selling recycled paper, EnviroCopy, and published the company’s first Green Book catalog of environmentally preferable products – a catalog that formed the foundation of many proactive sustainability programs in the years ahead.
As the initiative continued, Office Depot enacted the following strategies to position itself as an environmental leader:

  • declared a commitment to ‘sell greener’ as formal environmental strategy,
  • created the Buy Green site and search for common environmental attributes,
  • launched the Small Steps to Buying Greener Seminar Series,
  • launched the Shades of Green and Green Business Review,
  • Created the GreenerOffice Brand Identity & Global Green Product Range,
  • Created a comprehensive definition of ‘greener’ and $2 Billion in “greener” sales by 2012,
  • Recognized customers more publicly for purchasing leadership, and
  • Expanded into social and economic factors of sustainability

The future will be about bringing unique online and offline tools and functionality to support purchasers who want to advance sustainability in all its dimensions – from environmental to social to economic. It is also about moving from independently developing approaches to a focus on collaboratively developing approaches and solutions with a much wider set of stakeholders. This will be achieved through Office Depot’s involvement in SPLC and discussions with government entities and non-profits. But most importantly it will be achieved by continuing the long heritage of customer centric sustainability, and proactively working with Office Depot customers around the world who want to jointly advance sustainability with a proactive and can-do attitude to this task.


Supplier Leadership Award, Supplier of Sustainability-Related Services – Vital Metrics

Sangwon Suh, Vital Metrics
Providing Sustainability Impact Spend Analysis Services
VitalMetrics was founded in 2005, then named IERS (Industrial Ecology Research Services). The founding principle of the company was, and remains to this day to enable organizations of any and all sizes to achieve scientifically credible and commercially viable sustainability measurements. The sustainability performance and impact of an organization can only be managed if it is reliably measured in the first place. Over the last decade, VitalMetrics has helped clients ranging from government agencies, to multinational corporations and SMEs to measure and continuously improve their sustainability impacts.
Today, VitalMetrics is awarded the Supplier Award for Providing Sustainability Related Services to the Travis Perkins Group and the United States General Services Administration, and their strong linkages to the SPLC’s Principles for Leadership in Sustainable Purchasing.

For Travis Perkins Group, VitalMetrics’ services enabled an innovative way to rapidly and comprehensively understand the relevant environmental impacts of their purchasing, helping them to win commitment for improving their impacts in the most important areas. Travis Perkins is currently implementing and delivering on their commitment to drive improvement across the relevant environmental impacts of their purchasing with continued engagement with VitalMetrics.

VitalMetrics is actively promoting innovations (from comprehensive spend analysis, to supplier engagement and communication hubs) to help further refine analysis, share best practice, inform procurement protocol, and achieve environmental impact reductions. VitalMetrics also encourages transparency and has successfully encouraged Travis Perkins Group to fully publish the findings of the study.
VitalMetrics has also done significant work with the U.S. General Services Administration that will have positive impacts for years to come. With its over $500 billion of annual expenditure, U.S. Federal Government is the single largest purchasing body in the world. VitalMetrics’ experience shows how the SPLC’s Guidance can be implemented in practice for such a large organization like U.S. Federal Government. Their study follows the Guidance step-by-step from the creating the program, running it, and implementing the outcomes to change procurement procedures.

Analytically, this project represents one of the first examples of using multiple environmental impact categories for analyzing and prioritizing the impacts of spending across the entire organization.

The Spend Dashboard developed under the project enables an innovative way to create a one-stop access point for analyzing spend categories. Underlying data, CEDA-Federal Government is also available for other federal government agencies promoting transparency.