Feature Article

Navigating the Maze of Environmentally Preferable Products

The request for proposals (RFP) for a new municipal building lands on your desk. It includes a requirement that you specify environmentally preferable products (EPP) without compromising performance or increasing costs. You’ve used green materials in buildings before, so this requirement shouldn’t be a problem—you just have to find out how the client defines “environmentally preferable” and choose products accordingly, right?

Unfortunately, the RFP doesn’t define “environmentally preferable.” A Web search returns lots of hits but no clear answers. There are many different standards, guidelines, labeling programs, and claims, but they vary widely in their approach, and no one source offers a comprehensive list you can use. It looks like meeting that EPP requirement won’t be as straightforward as you had imagined.

Published November 1, 2003