Want a Federal Government Contract? Meet Annual Emissions Targets

United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express have been reducing emissions for years, and that’s turned out to be important for their businesses because one of their big customers now requires it – the US General Services Administration.

In order to get a shipping contract with the GSA, companies not only have to compete on price and performance, they also have to meet annual targets for cutting emissions.

They have to provide GSA with annual reports on their greenhouse gas emissions and footprint of their shipping activities. Initial benchmarks and goals for alternative fuel and vehicles are written into the contract. 

Vehicles FedEx is experimenting with:


GSA is now applying these benchmarks to all big contracts, starting with those that have the greatest impact on emissions – the $1.5 billion contract for shipping packages that runs for the next five years. Its part of GSA’s plan to push efficiency and emissions reduction through its supply chain, and to stimulate sales of extremely efficient and electric vehicles. 

American Clean Skies Foundation has been urging GSA on this, and wants the Department of Defense to do the same. In fact, the government should point the $150 billion it spends each year on transportation services to advance environmental objectives, they say.

"It’s a policy that’s long overdue and has huge potential to benefit the environment, but also to promote economic growth for the American engineered, American manufactured and domestically fueled products we can source, and to promote sustainable business practices in the service providers we engage," Jed Ela, Sustainability Coordinator at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, told Federal Times.   

The policy stems from President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order on Sustainability, which requires the federal government – the biggest energy consumer in the US – to cut emissions 28% by 2020, from 2008 levels. He directed all agencies to adopt sustainability plans with annual targets that include vendors’ performance.  

As last year ended, Obama issued another Executive Order, directing every federal agency to get 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020. 

Federal Times points to other sustainability requirements in GSA contracts:

  • Adding language in the OASIS services contract requiring contractors to disclose their sustainability practices through Global Reporting Initiative-based sustainability reports or carbon footprint reports.
  • Awarding contracts for managed print and copier services to vendors that complete a greenhouse gas emissions inventory.
  • Encouraging contractors on several large blanket contracts, such as for office supplies and janitorial products, to use transportation vendors who are members of EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership.
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