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CHAPTER 5

G N N I E S E A R G RCH PU Universities procure a remarkable array of goods and services. Universities that house highly technical and laboratory-based research are faced with particularly impactful commodities, including lab equipment, chemicals, and IT systems. Other commodities to be considered include stationary, office supplies, vehicles, and food. Finally, universities are frequently constructing and renovating buildings, which requires choices about materials, building management systems, furniture etc. All of this means that there are ample opportunities to integrate sustainable procurement standards into campus projects and policies. Goods and services can make up a substantial portion of an institution’s annual budget. At ETH Zurich, for instance, the annual expenditure in this category is roughly 40% (see page 69). Therefore, ‘green purchasing’ affords an opportunity to demonstrate environmental leadership, while stimulating a part of universities' demand for environmentally preferred goods and services. This is why it should be an integral part of the commitment to sustainability. However, purchasing is far from an unproblematic subject to address, as it deals with the potential conflicts between short-term budget savings for the university and long-term environmental ‘gains’ for society at large. Green purchasing must be considered in terms of both supply chain and disposal; i.e., including a product’s entire lifecycle, rather than merely short-term savings because, while buying a green product may at first appear expensive, it could in fact turn out to be cheaper in the long run.

GREEN PURCHASING

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IARU - Green Guide for Universities – pathways towards sustainability