A Purchasing Tool for Buying Green, Where Vendors Come to You

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Purchasing Tool for Buying Green, Where Vendors Come to You

Quantity Quotes, an online resource for bulk buyers, streamlines the purchasing process for environmentally-friendly products.

For multifamily developers interested in including green products in their communities, finding the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly options can be time-consuming and overwhelming.

To simplify the process, Quantity Quotes, an online purchasing tool developed by the U.S. Department of Energy to promote Energy Star-rated products, offers a one-stop shop for bulk purchasers to connect with multiple vendors of verified green and energy-efficient products.

“It’s a great, easy way for buyers to get free, competitive, quotes on bulk items,” says Stephanie Stern, program manager at StopWaste, the Alameda, Calif.-based public agency that now manages the site with in-kind support from DOE. “All of the environmental screening is already done, so you know you’re getting a green product, and it’s an easy way to get multiple bids. You fill out one purchase request and multiple vendors can respond.”

Once buyers create a Quantity Quotes profile, they select the products they’re interested in, such as appliances or bathroom fixtures, and add them to their cart to receive bids from vendors. Final purchasing takes place offline, and buyers’ contact information is not shared with vendors to ensure they don’t receive unwanted follow-up, Stern explains. Use of the site is free for both buyers and suppliers.

Since assuming operation of Quantity Quotes, StopWaste has expanded the site's product categories, most recently to include LED lighting, WaterSense products, and recycled content insulation. The new categories join various Energy Star appliance categories and CFL lighting.

Products are verified to meet efficiency and performance standards before vendors can list them on the site, helping to eliminate confusion that can result from “green-washed” products that really contain minimally green characteristics. To be listed, all products except for insulation must have either an Energy Star or WaterSense label. Standards for insulation products were created by StopWaste and require ultra-low VOC emittance and at least 30% recycled content. 

Due to its bulk purchasing requirements, Quantity Quotes is a good fit for multifamily owners and developers either in new construction or when upgrading an existing property. The tool also fills an important niche for government housing programs, Stern says.

“Government purchasers are excited about Quantity Quotes because of their ability to receive multiple bids in one place, which is often a procurement standard that’s required for publicly-funded projects. HUD has specifically said that Quantity Quotes does meet their criteria for purchasing for multifamily, so that has been a real driver for our target audience,” she adds. 

Included in Quantity Quotes’ recent expansion were improvements to make the site easier to update, says Stern, reflecting StopWaste’s desire for the program to continue to grow and better serve buyers.  “We’ll be continuing to add new products and improve the functionality of the site as we keep it running.” 

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