Northwestern considers environmental impact in purchasing decisions, when appropriate. PRS will consider the use of products and services with less environmental impact than competing products when it is a good best-value decision to do so (based on a thorough total-cost-of-ownership analysis). When establishing contracts and agreements on behalf of the University, PRS considers the initial price as well as the factors listed below. Northwestern also encourages departments/schools to consider the use of products and services that impact the environment less than competing products, when it is a good best value decision to do so.

A good best value decision based on a thorough total cost of ownership analysis considers the initial cost of the item as well as factors such as:

  • Energy Efficiency. Purchase equipment that is Energy Star-rated (or, if there is no Energy Star rating, equipment that is highly energy efficient). Energy Star is a program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.
  • Shipping Materials. Purchase products that are shipped in containers that are returnable or reusable and made from recycled content (i.e. cardboard boxes). Also request bulk packaging when multiple items are ordered for delivery at the same time.
  • Recycled Content. Purchase products made with recycled content suitable for the intended use. Look for a high percentage of post-consumer content. “Post consumer” is material that has served its intended purpose and has been discarded for disposal or recovery by a business or consumer. Other recycled content includes post-industrial wastes, which are by-products of a manufacturing process that would normally not be reused in the process.
  • Other. Environmental performance of the supplier and/or producer should also be considered, such as waste prevention, waste reduction, pollution prevention, clean air and water programs, re-use of materials, minimization of scrap material, and any other green factory initiatives, etc. The University strongly desires to minimize the amount of waste sent to landfills.  Both the product purchased and the packaging materials associated with it should be minimized to prevent waste as much as possible.

View the Sustainability Glossary of Terms.

For sustainability information about specific Preferred Vendors, view the "Sustainability Info" column on the Preferred Vendor Matrix. Click on the vendor name to see detailed information on the Vendor Profile.