Altering what we purchase is one of the most direct ways that we can positively influence our environments. Counties across the country are evaluating their purchasing strategies to find opportunities to save taxpayer money, reduce negative impacts on the environment, and find better performing products to provide vital services to communities. However, there is still a perception in many counties that purchasing products that reduce negative impacts on the environment is difficult and could mean settling for poorer performing products with higher costs. In NACo's 2011-2012 Green Purchasing Survey over 50% of respondents indicated cost as a barrier to purchasing green.
NACo and its partners, U.S. Communities, the Responsible Purchasing Network, and Green Seal developed this toolkit to help America's counties reduce negative impacts on the environment without compromising on cost or performance. We believe that when buying products with reduced environmental impacts, it is unacceptable to compromise on quality and cost. In fact, the toolkit contains case studies which illustrate how counties are already purchasing green products and actually saving money through lower upfront costs, reduced operating costs, and avoid substantial costs associated with hazardous material disposal.
Efforts to help counties purchase environmentally preferred products are not new. In 2004, the National Association of Counties published the Green Purchasing Starter Kit to help counties purchase environmentally-preferred products. The Starter Kit, focused mainly on cleaning and office products, included key principles for counties to get started with greening their purchasing processes, as well as tools for conducting a baseline inventory and communicating with the media about county green purchasing efforts. This helped many counties get started with evaluating their purchasing practices.
In the past seven years, much has changed in county purchasing and product manufacturing. Product providers are learning how to bring a wider variety of green products to the market that perform better than traditional products and provide value to county customers. NACo also recognizes that there is a need for county-focused materials that provide guidance on greening all government functions. As a result, NACo and its partners believe it is time to develop a new tool that focuses on strategies to help counties purchase products that only perform better and provide more value that the traditional products they are currently using.
NACo and its partners spent a great deal of time and resources pulling this product together. We hope counties find it useful, and we look forward to working together in the future to provide more assistance for America's counties that are seeking to improve their environmental performance.