Department of Energy's Carpet Contract
At a Glance
- Low VOC adhesive
- 30-40% recycled content carpet face fiber
- 100% recycled content backing
- 100% recycling required
- Indoor Air Quality standards
Staff at the Department of Energy (www.energy.gov/) worked closely with carpet vendors and service providers.
Environmental Information Sources:
- Green Seal
- Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines
- DuPont Carpet Reclamation Program (1-800-4DUPONT)
- Carpet and Rug Institute
- Carpet America Recovery Effort
- Saves 63,000 lbs of virgin nylon
- Saves disposal of 831 adhesive buckets
(650 ft3 of landfill space)
- VOC emissions 20 times lower than CRI's Green Label standard
- Cost less than GSA's discount price
Listed at the end of the case study.
The team responsible for procurement at the Department of Energy worked to effectively implement greener purchasing practices since the issuance of E.O. 12873 and E.O. 13101 and in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulations. Since carpet takes over 50 years to decompose and many landfills no longer accept carpet, the organization decided to actively pursue a carpet recycling program. The persistent efforts of the purchasing team culminated in the successful awarding of a five-year, $5.3 million Blanket Purchase Agreement with environmentally preferred qualities at both the manufacturing and disposal stages. This BPA saves over 63,000 pounds of virgin nylon, diverts over a million pounds of carpet from the landfill, and saves the disposal of 831 adhesive buckets (about 650 cubic feet of landfill space). All of these environmental attributes were achieved at a price below the GSA's discount price for carpets and related services.
In contract solicitation, the Statement of Work evaluated firms under a three phase process incorporating performance, environmental attributes, and price.
Phase I: Quality
Phase I required vendors to submit their renditions of existing carpets, which had to approximately match in color and pattern the interior design scheme. Quality requirements also required standards such as carpet weight, nylon fiber, and effective installation.
Phase II: Environmental Attributes
To achieve the goal of procuring carpet that would be environmentally preferable, Phase II set mandatory requirements for recycled content, complete recycling of used Department of Energy carpet, and indoor air quality.
Specific mandatory requirements featured:
- Minimum recycled content of 60% in the backing
- Minimum recycled content of 15% of the nylon face
- Information on recycling plans. None of the old carpet could be placed
in a landfill or incinerated. The President or Chief Executive Officer
(CEO) of the carpet company had to sign a certificate of compliance.
Additionally, the selected vendor would be required to submit monthly
reports on recycled carpet totals.
- Indoor air quality standards, including provisions allowing highly sensitive people or those with respiratory conditions to request no carpet in their space. The vendor had to demonstrate compliance with either the CRI Green label voluntary standards or State of Washington Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) specifications.
Phase III: "Best Value"
Phase III sought to award the contract on the basis of best value rather than accepting the lowest price offer. Two-fold, it considered the (highest) percentage of recycled content in the products offered, compared to the total 5-year overall cost to the Department of Energy. Because the trade off between price and recycled content is subjective, the evaluation team included those with budgetary, technical, and procurement expertise. Together, they determined whether the trade off between price and recycled material was reasonable and worth the slight difference in price.
Two vendors passed both Phases I and II, leaving the choice between the two on Phase III requirements. In terms of cost considerations, the two varied by only $500 on a $5.3 million bid (less than 0.01%). Collins and Aikman Floorcoverings was the vendor charging $500 more, but offered products with much higher percentage content in both the face yarn and backing. The carpet provided by Collins and Aikman contains 30-40% recycled nylon and 100% recycled tile backing, surpassing the mandatory requirements established in the Statement of Work. Consequently, they won the 5 year contract. In additional to the numerous environmental attributes included in the carpet contract, the negotiated contract cost less than the GSA's discount price.
Over the 15 months when the carpet contract was researched and awarded, the DOE team working on the project emphasized a few key lessons they learned from the process. First, an ambitious new procurement project involves much trial and error, especially in the absence of federal precedents. In this particular case, the DOE did not know of any other large federal agency pursuing environmentally preferable carpet awards. Second, researching industry standards is an essential part of deciding what standards to include in an awards solicitation. The DOE team feels the final contract was researched adequately to establish high standards, while remaining flexible enough to require no modifications. Finally, requiring company certification of claims was an important factor in ensuring honest bidding. A few firms withdrew their bids when they realized all claims would be verified and required a certificate of compliance signed by the company president.
The Department of Energy staff has been pleased with the implementation of the carpet contract since November 2000. When the contract comes up for renewal in 2005, they expect to incorporate higher standards based on what becomes available in the next few years.
Mr. Amos Street, Jr.
US Department of Energy
Phone: (202) 586-3962
Mr. Craig Frame
US Department of Energy