SGP Certification Boosts Government Printing Office's Sustainability Program

Submitted by: Phil Riebel 03/07/2013

When one of the largest printing facilities becomes SGP Certified-namely the U.S. Government Printing Office-it sends a clear message about the value of sustainability and SGP Certification.

March 7, 2013

by Ashley Arneson, via Sustainable Green Partnership

When one of the largest printing facilities becomes SGP Certified–namely the U.S. Government Printing Office–it sends a clear message about the value of sustainability and SGP Certification. Since receiving its Certification just two months ago, the Government Printing Office (GPO) is already seeing the benefits. In this Q&A, read why GPO became Certified and the helpful advice it provides for other print facilities.

Why did GPO become SGP Certified?

GPO’s Strategic Plan for FY 2013-2017 identifies environmental stewardship as a priority. Specifying recycling, reducing energy consumption, reducing GPO’s carbon footprint, and providing Federal customers with sustainable printing alternatives are continuing initiatives for the agency. The environmental printing certification from SGP validates GPO’s efforts and builds upon other certifications the agency has received recently, including the IDEAlliance Master Printer certification, the Library Binding Institute’s ANSI/NISO/LBI Library Binding Standard Z39.78-2000 certification and the certification of Graphic Arts Industry Color Viewing Standard ISO 3664:2009.

What are some of the immediate and anticipated long-term benefits of becoming SGP Certified?

Short-term benefits include formal recognition of past and current efforts taken to increase sustainability. Long-term benefits are methodical approaches to reducing emissions, energy, and waste, improving employee buy-in and awareness of environmental stewardship through sustainability-related projects and communication, and maintaining our preferred vendor status for printing services to federal agencies and branches of the Federal Government.

How does SGP Certification fit within Executive Order 13514, which set sustainability goals for Federal agencies and focuses on making improvements in their environmental, energy and economic performance?

Executive Order 13514 establishes sustainability goals for all agencies of the Executive Branch which seek to reduce their greenhouse gases and their environmental impact on the Federal Government and the nation. SGP Certification emphasizes several actions and measures required to achieve these sustainability goals. Executive Order 13514 sets 30% post-consumer fiber content in paper and printed materials. GPO offers a variety of paper stock from 30% to 100% post-consumer fiber content to our customers. Our customers may eventually include greenhouse gases emissions, energy consumption and carbon footprints of their suppliers in their reported metrics, so GPO efforts to continuously improve its carbon footprint, reduce waste and energy impacts our customers positively.

Does the GPO anticipate SGP Certification being a driver for other agencies to increase their use of GPO in order to meet their obligations under the Executive Order?

Yes. GPO’s SGP Certification provides tangible proof of our commitment to sustainability for our customers. When federal agencies consider the possible vendors for their printing needs, our customers will know that our printing services have less environmental impact and equal cost competitiveness as competing printing vendors.

How has GPO communicated with its employees and customers about attaining SGP Certification?

GPO’s Public Relations Office sent out a press release about the agency attaining SGP Certification. In addition, GPO communicates our SGP Certified status to our customers through our national account managers. National account managers inform our customers as part of their conversations and presentations of our printing services. The SGP logo has been added to email signatures of GPO managers and those employees who interact with customers. The revised email signatures are used on internal and external emails. GPO communicates our sustainability initiatives to employees through intra-agency publications, internal websites, posters and presentations.

What advice would GPO have for other government agencies considering SGP Certification?

Learn the requirements of SGP first. Plan your certification process. Be prepared to address issues you identify during your self-audit. Your employees are your best resource for Certification.