Incorporate Sustainability Into Vendor Selection

Cornell is using its purchasing power to help build a sustainable economy...

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Green Suppliers are a Leadership goal in the Cornell Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Consider sustainability criteria, including locality and GHG emissions, in the vendor selection process to reduce the environmental footprint of Cornell’s supply chain.

Goal: Ensure that Cornell's purchasing decisions consider the university’s overarching commitment to sustainability.

Local investment and business incubation are part of Cornell’s land grant mission, i.e., Cornell returns New York State’s investment by directing its education, applied research, and outreach to benefit the citizens of New York. As a major enterprise, Cornell makes a significant contribution to the State’s economic prosperity. Roughly 20% of Cornell's business is done locally, and 50% is done in New York State.

Procurement Services encourages buyers to shop with local and diverse suppliers for products and services that are not under contract with a preferred supplier and are under the university’s bid limit. For a complete listing of preferred and contract suppliers, many of whom are local and regional, view the supplier table at

The purchasing Team works diligently to incorporate and promote sustainability criteria, including locality and GHG emissions, as part of the university's product and vendor selection process.

Procurement Services conducts a formal evaluation process of its preferred suppliers and recognizes supplier performance. Sustainability is one metric used to grade this key group of strategic partners. Cornell's Procurement Services asks these 20+ suppliers to describe their key sustainability efforts and accomplishments. These efforts can be specific to Cornell or can include practices the company is implementing on a global basis.

Through the competitive bidding process, Procurement Services can give increased weight to vendors that meet sustainability criteria, including locality and potential for reduced GHG emissions.

For a listing of local and regional businesses, visit the Procurement Services website at Numerous local and diverse suppliers are under contract to serve the university with products and services such as audiovisual, promotional items and apparel, photography, videography, catering, graphic design, web design, moving and storage, vehicle purchases and rentals, maintenance and repair, and more. The supplier list identifies preferred and contract suppliers and includes the diverse business type classification and locality for each supplier. Examples of local suppliers that serve the Ithaca campus include:

  • The Computing Center is the preferred supplier for all university purchases of print toners.
  • Vasco Brands is the preferred supplier for janitorial and cleaning supplies and equipment and for paper towels and toilet paper.
  • Mister Koffee is the contract supplier for coffee equipment and supplies and for inline water filtration.

Projects undertaken by Procurement in support of Cornell’s sustainability goals include:

  • Targeted efforts to reduce use of virgin copy paper and promote recycled copy. Read more...
  • Promote sustainable purchasing through our website.
  • Promote use of inline water filtration by contracting with Mister Koffee to rent specialty cooler systems.
  • Include Sustainable Purchasing in procurement procedures to promote use of Energy Star rated products and life cycle cost analysis.
  • Implemented electronic invoicing which vastly reductions paper usage. Currently 300 suppliers are submitting over 63% of the university’s 150,000 annual invoices electronically, which represents 77% of the line items.
  • Promoting Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments to reduce check printing
  • Promote use of hybrid vehicles for business travel
  • Added Asset Inventory Management (AIM) program to e-SHOP

To read more on Procurement Services’ Diversity Initiative, click here to read more.

Winners of the fifth annual Supplier Recognition Awards for outstanding performance duirng fiscal year 2016 in five  key categories: product and service quality, pricing/cost, order fulfillment/delivery, customer satisfaction/support, and  social responsi
Winners of the fifth annual Supplier Recognition Awards for outstanding performance duirng fiscal year 2016 in five key categories: product and service quality, pricing/cost, order fulfillment/delivery, customer satisfaction/support, and social responsi


Cornell's carpeting Preferred Supplier is a leader in the use of recycled materials in the manufacture, distribution and installation of carpeting.

Office Furniture

Cornell's Preferred Suppliers for office furniture has received many national awards for their "green" purchasing, manufacturing, and distribution processes.

Paper and Compostable Products

Cornell University's Procurement Services has negotiated a contract with Hill and Markes to provide paper and compostable products, which includes paper plates, cups, napkins, cardboard trays, and utensils.

Next Steps

  • Encourage and market the benefits of purchasing locally, and highlight EPEAT, ENERGY STAR, and Green Seal certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.
  • Promote sustainability initiatives on the Procurement Services website, and provide a Sustainable Purchasing brochure which highlights these initiatives across campus.