Best Practices for Instilling Sustainable Procurement
in an Organization and Workforce:
Determine a process for collaboration within an organization
Adopt a policy with clear goals and reporting requirements
Establish communication and outreach strategies
Track information and establish a baseline at the beginning of a program
Centralize procurement activities in the organization
Alicia Culver, Sustainable Purchasing Network, December 7, 2011.
participant noted that the roles and responsibilities for different workers need to be clearly identified so that the proper level of training can be targeted to that group for best results. Another aspect of this, said another participant, is that a culture change is needed in addition to training. One solution is to have a pilot-scale project in order to foster buy-in from some, and then expand the effort to all, a participant suggested. Once a small example is out there, another participant added, it could lead to larger efforts and eventually to buy-in from leadership.
Training should be presented and viewed as education, and it should be a two-way activity, commented one participant. Receiving feedback, both data-driven and qualitative, helps point out opportunities for improvement and reveals whether the training had the right focus. One participant urged that culture change, especially empowering procurement professionals to make more informed choices and provide guidance, should be incorporated into the strategic vision of organizations; instilling sustainability principles will not be successful unless it is connected to the vision of the organization. Also important are promoting proper practices and giving recognition to the people who are doing things the right way, some participants noted.
Jonathan Rifkin from the District of Columbia’s Office of Contracting and Procurement presented the case for an interagency, jurisdiction-wide team capable of addressing issues around sustainable procurement. The team should include a procurement professional who can move the process forward and who understands how to write contract language that can be readily applied. An environmental expert will also be needed, such as a representative from the jurisdiction’s environmental unit. Such expertise would help inform the purchaser, who may not be able to make environmental value judgments for that particular jurisdiction. Mr. Rifkin also said that people from budget and finance would be needed on the team to overcome the notion that sustainable products are more expen-