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Purchasing plays a crucial role in determining how sustainable we are here at UMass Lowell, and as such we have been working hard to procure the most economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable products available.

Through purchasing in such a fashion, we at the University can have a far-reaching and positive impact. We can support small, local businesses who are taking it upon themselves to produce goods in a sustainable fashion, so that they are not forced out of business by less sustainability-focused competing corporations. As a result, we can do our part in helping to develop a sustainable economy and, through local purchasing, ensure that there are plentiful reliable jobs adhering by sustainability guidelines in the Lowell community.

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We have been using AASHE STARS since 2015 to analyze how sustainable our University is becoming, and a significant portion of that reporting takes into account what products we purchase. One section of the reporting reviews general purchasing practices of all goods. The University has enacted a Purchasing Policy (pdf), which sets in place certain guidelines for all purchases.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view any pdf files. It can be download for free from the Adobe website.

AASHE STARS rates institutions in terms of purchasing based on the following three criteria:

  1. Whether or not we have “written policies, guidelines or directives that that seek to support sustainable purchasing across commodity categories, institution-wide”.
  2. Whether or not we use “Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) as a matter of policy and standard practice when evaluating all energy- and water-using products and systems”.
  3. Whether or not we publish sustainability criteria for different categories of products, such as transportation and fuels or garments and linens.

So, we are doing our best to follow those criteria in our purchasing. There are also specific categories of procurement that are looked at more closely:

To conclude, these are the steps we are taking to reach sustainability through our procurement of products for the University. To continue the story, we ask you to join us in this endeavor! Try to purchase products with the same certifications that we do, and if you have any questions about whether a product helps or hurts the world, please feel free to reach out and ask us!