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Sustainability Initiatives

The University of Pittsburgh is committed to environmental stewardship through sustainable purchasing, conservation, and construction designed to conserve natural resources and preserve the environment. In February, 2018 Pitt received a Silver STARS designation from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Learn more about Pitt's Sustainability Plan here.

By increasing the purchase of products with a reduced or minimal environmental impact, we help reduce the quantity and environmental impact of materials entering and exiting the University. The following guidance and resources can assist you in making sustainable purchases.

How Does Purchasing Services Facilitate Sustainable Purchasing?

  • Provides environmentally preferable supply sources through active research and solicitation of bids on environmentally preferable goods and services.
  • Works with suppliers to ensure that environmentally preferable products are easy to locate through clear product labeling and use of the PantherExpress System. Our list of University-wide Contracted Suppliers can be sorted by the "Green Program" column to learn more about their programs.
  • Asks suppliers to provide clear environmental impact information for the entire life cycle of products.
  • Educates University departments about sustainable purchasing practices.
  • Provides management services to University departments with product inventories to reduce the excess or obsolete inventories that lead to waste or potential environmental and safety issues.
  • Provides a paperless purchase-to-pay process via the PantherExpress System.
  • Works closely with the Office of Sustainability to develop programs, provide outreach, or further support University sustainability initiatives.

What can Department Purchasers Do?

  • Utilize the PantherExpress System for paperless purchasing of environmentally preferable products from our University-wide contracted suppliers. Many suppliers have a punchout or hosted catalog with a means for sorting by sustainable, “green,” or eco-friendly products. We encourage departments to compare not only product cost, but other factors such as quality or sustainability. 
  • Ask suppliers about their sustainable practices.
  • Prioritize local procurement to reduce GHG emissions from air travel or shipping.
  • Consider getting a Pitt Green designation for your office or lab by contacting the Office of Sustainability.
  • Contact Jennifer Barnes, Diversity & Sustainability Coordinator in Purchasing Services, to request a sustainable purchasing presentation or for suggestions regarding suppliers.
  • Review the following resources for steps you can take when purchasing for your department.

General Guidelines for Sustainable Purchasing

When looking for products and making purchases, this information is important to keep in mind. Learn more about how to make sustainable purchases.

Commodity Specific Guidelines for Sustainability

Commodity specific guidelines provide information on sustainable products available for your lab or office, including: carpeting, cleaning products, computers, coffee, ink & toner, lighting, office furniture, and paper.

Chemical Redistribution Program

University of Pittsburgh's Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) offers a program where University Faculty and staff can donate uncontaminated chemicals that are not expired or obtain these chemicals free of charge. 

Supplier-led Sustainability Programs

Information about sustainability programs led by current University-wide Contracted Suppliers, including: Grounds to Grow On K-Cup Recycling Program, TreeZero Paper, and more. 

TreeZero Paper

 TreeZero paper is a cost-effective alternative to virgin or recycled paper. Learn more about the benfits of utilizing TreeZero paper and where the purchase it.