Alameda’s Green Purchasing Program

As part of Alameda County’s (California, USA) goal to achieve a minimum 15% reduction in operational greenhouse gas emissions, the County’s Climate Executive Committee identified “greening County-sponsored events” as one of five cross-agency climate initiatives to be launched by employee teams in 2014. To develop guidance that would be effective across the County’s 20 diverse agencies, a cross-agency team was formed and tasked with researching approaches to greening events, studying external models and current practices to determine the most effective way to “green”. In addition to this research, the team also used data from 60 survey respondents, four focus groups, and a handful of high-level stakeholder interviews to identify what motivated and deterred Alameda County employees from taking certain actions. Event planner input and best practices at area institutions informed the creation of a checklist of eco-actions and related sources that staff organizing events could use as a guide, while the cross-agency green events team worked with employee purchasers to develop a certification process for events and meetings.  The team promoted the new program via county-wide e-mails, a presentation to County department heads, and a training for 50 agency designees, and encouraged participation in the event certification program through a six-week-long contest. Awards were developed to encourage broad based participation and program visibility while also promoting the spread of the program through modeling and social diffusion. Prior to the campaign, the average rate of certification was ten events per month, leading campaign organizers to set a goal of certifying 40 events throughout the duration of the contest. Ultimately, 192 events and meetings were certified in just six weeks, with 144 brand-new event planners from all 20 county agencies participating.

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