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The University spends millions of dollars on products and services each year that support the operational functions and education, research, and service mission of KU.  Purchasing at KU has historically been based on the criteria of price and quality, with consideration of state purchasing requirements.  But recently the University has broadened these criteria to include minimizing adverse environmental and social impacts.  Sustainable purchasing considers the life cycle costs (environmental, social, and financial) of a product, taking into account raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance or disposal of the product or service.


The University and its affiliates are committed to lessening our negative impacts on the environment and strengthening the regional economy through sustainable purchasing practices and partnerships with vendors while maintaining fiscal responsibility.


Key achievements in working toward this vision, and the corresponding strategy (in parentheses), include:

  • Changing for Excellence initiatives in Facilities Services, Human Resources, and other areas have reduced the amount of paper used for business operations (P 1.1.2)
  • The All-University Surplus Property Policy was approved in 2012, and Surplus Property Procedures were approved in 2015, establishing KU Surplus as the central department responsible for managing all campus surplus. (P 1.2.3)
  • Procurement has worked with Grainger to identify environmentally/socially preferable products at a comparable cost. (P 2.1.1)
  • The Center for Sustainability developed a sustainable purchasing guide in 2012 to assist campus procurement officers in making decisions about environmentally and socially responsible products. (P 2.1.2)
  • The required vendor for campus office supplies, Staples, uses Smart-Sized Packaging at the local fulfillment center, which reduces the amount of waste associated with shipments and reduces transportation impacts. (P 2.1.4., T 4.1.1)
  • An agreement with Dell requires all standard desktop and laptop computers offered through the University contract to be EPEAT Gold certified. (P2.1.5)
  • In Spring 2015, KU contracted with Common Harvest, a Lawrence-based CSA program, to provide local and organic produce subscriptions to KU faculty, staff and students (P 2.1.1)

Coronavirus Update

KU Recycling and KU Surplus have resumed services. As part of our efforts to reduce an on-campus presence and promote social distancing, we will continue to limit special collections that are not mission critical. For updated information on KU's response to COVID-19, visit protect.ku.edu

Sustainability Plan

KU Bike Plan

KU Bike Plan

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