Pennsylvania State University

Penn State Case StudyIn 2008, The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) incorporated EPEAT into its bulk buy process, yielding substantial environmental benefits. The University’s online catalogue made it easy for faculty and staff to select EPEAT-qualified products with prominent labels of each product’s EPEAT status.

The Bulk Buy Process and EPEAT

At Penn State, a university system comprised of more than 23,000 full-time faculty and staff supporting more than 80,000 students, computer equipment is purchased annually through a bulk buy. Each year, purchasing, the central information technology (IT) department, and major IT purchasers across the 22-campus university system, meet to discuss IT needs and decide on standardized system configurations. Every spring, Penn State solicits pricing from vendors for purchase over a three-month period in the summer.

Adopting EPEAT as an IT standard was easy, since environmental stewardship was a key initiative of Penn State’s Finance and Business organization. The biggest challenge, although not much of one, was getting the attention of decision makers to introduce EPEAT program information into the deliberation process. The IT procurement meetings were internal discussions, so having an EPEAT advocate – The Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center (PARMC) – within the Penn State system was instrumental in getting EPEAT on the agenda. In one of the initial meetings, EPEAT was introduced, and a subsequent meeting was reserved exclusively for an in-depth presentation and discussion of EPEAT. There was no pushback to purchasing EPEAT, just questions that were easily addressed, according to Meg Harpster, Strategic Purchasing Manager at Penn State.

When Penn State issued its RFQ in April, they requested vendors to submit an EPEAT rating for each of the standard configuration desktops, monitors and notebooks.

Results for Penn State

Penn State selected one vendor to provide its computer equipment in 208, and was pleased to discover that “green” features did not impact pricing. The University’s online catalogue included each product’s EPEAT status, making it easy for faculty and staff to select EPEAT-qualified products.

All the desktop computers (3,010 units) purchased during Penn State’s bulk buy were EPEAT Gold rated, along with half of the laptops (597 units). The remaining laptops (560) and all of the monitors (2,004) were EPEAT Silver. The table below summaries the environmental benefits resulting from Penn State’s EPEAT purchases.

Original publication date: 2008