Purchasing Green & Sustainable Products for Schools

Did you know that the primary sources of indoor exposure to airborne chemicals are furnishings, building materials and other products found in schools that can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particles into the air? These chemical emissions can contribute to a wide range of adverse health effects including asthma, upper respiratory irritation, fatigue, nasal congestion, nausea, dizziness and more.  Furthermore, chemicals found in many common cleaning products can cause similar health problems.

Creating a sustainable purchasing policy helps meet facility needs while reducing chemical exposure in the school environment. Sustainable purchasing can also help slow the depletion of natural non-renewable resources, and materials purchased regionally help the local economy and reduce both the energy required for transportation and the associated greenhouse gas emissions. There is now a wide range of certified, effective, “green” products available. Learn more about establishing a sustainable purchasing policy and finding green certified products for your school.

Tip: Also visit our National & State Green School Programs page to learn more about local and national Green School programs and resources to help you improve the health & sustainability of your school!

Before You Start

Form an Action Team

Center for Green Schools: Sustainable Purchasing (6 mins)

Center for Green Schools: Sustainable Purchasing Companion Guide

Overview: Protect Students & Staff with Green Cleaning (EPA)

Design and Preparation

Conduct a General Environmental Review Checklist

Green Cleaning Program Assessment

Conduct a Healthy Schools Audit

Implementation

Create a Healthy Schools Action Plan

Develop a Sustainable Purchasing Program:

  • EPA: Purchasing Greener Products & Services
  • Guidance for Sustainable Purchasing Programs (Implementation Workbook)
  • Green & Sustainable Products: Databases & Certified Products

    Also See: Green Cleaning

    Using Your Project

    EPA Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides & Online Resources for Educators

    Eco Schools Sustainability Pathways & Resources

    Eco Schools National Standards & Curriculum Alignment

    Eco Schools Green STEM Initiative

    Green Education Foundation: Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

    Learning Lab Sustainability Lessons

    Project Learning Tree Curriculum Offerings

    Sharing Your Project

    Downloadable Green Cleaning Posters & PowerPoints

    Involve Parents in Creating a Healthy Indoor School Environment

    Create Signs About Green Cleaning & Green Product Tips & Efforts

    Resource Center

    Project Resource Library: Learn More!
    National & State Green School Programs
    Eco Schools USA Handbook
    Bay Backpack Teaching Resources Search Engine
    EPA: Healthy Schools, Healthy Kids!
    Healthy Schools Campaign: Green Clean Schools
    EPA Learning & Teaching About the Environment (awards, resources, more)