TGP’s Environmental Policies & Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


Jul 26, 2022

The GREEN Program’s Implementation of The Forum’s Guidelines for Advancing the UN SDG’s through Education Abroad

Guiding Principles

MISSION & GOALS: Since 2009, The GREEN Program’s (TGP) mission is to educate and empower future sustainability leaders through innovative models of experiential education, responsible travel, and adventure. In 2015, TGP’s Founder, Melissa Lee, participated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Summit for the launch of the SDGs alongside global leaders, colleagues, and academics.  Since then, TGP has been one of- if not the first- education program to integrate the SDGs into our core framework of our programs, operations, and mission. Every TGP program since our founding has been directly correlated to and designed with the SDGs (or Millennium Development Goals for our programs between 2009-2015). The corresponding SDGs are communicated and matched with each program on our website and course materials as well. TGP has been a committed partner of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and has been tracking our progress and metrics since October 2015. You can see our commitment published on the U.N.’s Partnership Platform which has been recognized to fulfill SMART criteria by the U.N.: Here, we have published our shared goals, objectives, and outcomes for sustainable development to our partners, participants, and stakeholders. 

As an organization, our mission is specifically targeted and aligned with SDG Goal #4.7 which is focused on bringing together leaders from government, academia, civil society, and business to accelerate the implementation of Transformative Education around the world. Transformative Education encompasses the common objectives and methodologies of the types of education outlined in SDG Target 4.7, including education for sustainable development, global citizenship education, environmental education, climate education, peace and human rights education, and others. Through SDG Target 4.7, Transformative Education delivers not only the knowledge, but also the competencies, values, and skills necessary for current and future generations to achieve the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Through our university partnerships, and community engagement with like-minded organizations, SDG #17 Partnerships for the Goals is central to our robust university relations and partnerships program, in addition to our onsite partners whose local knowledge is centered in all of our programs and courses. All of our global programs are also each directly connected to 2-3 SDGs and shared on our website and outreach communications: 

  • Iceland Renewable Energy Innovation and Sustainability: SDGs #7 Affordable and Clean Energy; #13 Climate Action; #9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Peru Water Resource Management: SDGs #6 Clean Water and Sanitation; #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities; #7 Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Japan Disaster Mitigation and Nuclear to Renewable Transitions: SDGs #9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, #7 Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Nepal Microgrids for Rural Development: SDGs #7 Affordable and Clean Energy, #10 Reduced Inequalities, #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Nepal Ethics of Sustainable Development: SDGS #1 No Poverty, #10 Reduced Inequalities, #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Peru Indigenous Knowledge & Sustainability”: SDGs #Reduced Inequalities; #17 Partnerships for the Goals

We are proud that more than 3,700 university students and young professionals have completed TGP’s SDGs-focused programs, representing 470 universities and 70 countries globally. Post-program, we continue to support our alumni with professional development opportunities specifically within the field of sustainability careers and skill-building for the 21st century workforce. Today, TGP alumni are making an impact around the world with sustainability-focused careers at organizations such as Tesla, General Electric, the Environmental Protection Agency, National Geographic, Second Nature, Google, and more. 

As a part of our assessments, in 2020, TGP worked with Uppsala University, a leading research institution based in Sweden to conduct a study that investigated the short and long-term impacts of The GREEN Program on education for sustainable development (ESD) and sustainable development. The study found that 95% of TGP students experience a sustainability-related shift with an increase in awareness and consciousness of personal impacts, personal exchange, and expertise in sustainability issues. Unique to international education, the model discovered that the exposure to real-world examples, foreign cultures, and the exchange between the students but also professionals and experts had the most significant impact on the participants – something that cannot be fully replaced on campus or in traditional classroom settings. Finally, the study notes that the relevance of experiential learning in a foreign setting is strongly supported when studying sustainable development through international education, and it is a particularly effective and impactful way to facilitate sustainability education and activism. You can read more and access the study here: 

COLLABORATION & TRANSPARENCY BETWEEN PARTNERS: With the SDGs built into the core of our work, TGP seeks long-term partnerships between local institutions, vendors, and communities where our programs operate.  As an international education organization whose programs and mission are centered on sustainability and SDGs education, TGP works with universities in the USA and around the world to expand their portfolio of study abroad programs to include SDGs focused global education. We work with a variety of institutional types and academic departments therein to provide SDGs collaboration across campus silos and to all students. We work with our sending institutional partners to support and recruit participants from non-traditional study abroad backgrounds, and coordinate campus events around topics like environmental justice and climate action to share our mission with their campus and community.

From a program operations perspective, from the first conversation, the SDGs are clearly communicated with all potential partners and integrated into our program and curriculum design. The SDGs are also carried into our company-wide decision-making policies too. As a legally registered Public Benefit Corporation and advocates for responsible travel, TGP partners with locally owned vendors and prioritizes contracts to women and BIPOC owned businesses; therefore, our global teams and partners are committed to ensure that our programs contribute positive SDGs benefits to the local community, local institution, and local environment. Before the pandemic, TGP had committed more than $1,000,000 each year to local, minority, and women owned businesses. During the pandemic, our collaboration to our partners with the SDGs has not waivered – our programs continue to employ local instructors and staff from our program destinations with our SDGs focused courses (i.e. “Indigenous Knowledge for Sustainable Development”, “Ethics of Sustainable Development”, “Renewable Energy Innovation and Sustainability”).  It is our intention for every program to invest in long-term, sustainable partnerships that uplift local communities and our partners. In the case of new program development, TGP will only work with partners who are mission-aligned and committed to progressing sustainable development through their work with TGP. During the program development process, TGP uses a collaborative and team approach when designing everything from the curriculum with local professors and universities, which methods of transport to take to reduce our emissions, to where meals are sourced with our logistics partners and vendors.  After each program, we always re-assess ways we can improve our programs based on student and team feedback together.  Open communication, and collaborations that are mutually beneficial for all parties is critical to TGP integrating the SDGs into our programs since 2015. Learn more about TGP’s Environmental Policy here:

ETHICS: One example of how TGP has engaged with local communities in an ethical manner is our Nepal program focused on Microgrids for Rural Development. This is a 10-day, 3 graduate credit course with Kathmandu University’s School of Development Studies. This program is unique due to an intensive solar microgrid installation and homestay in various rural villages throughout Nepal. TGP has vetted various on-site partners to support us with the installation. Our model here is to partner with a local organization that works directly with the leadership of each village to discuss their interest in receiving solar microgrids to provide electricity to their villages, and allow TGP students to be guests in their homes. The local communities must always give permission for the project to move forward; therefore, all constituents and responsible parties work together to contribute to sustainable development while understanding the potential challenges and hurdles associated with the solar microgrid installations.  Post-installation, we ensure long-term sustainability of our projects by integrating an employment model, providing jobs to local entrepreneurs who can help manage the electric grid system. This person receives training, payment, and additional support from our local partners at any time they need additional assistance or continued maintenance. Recently, a storm destroyed one of our solar microgrid systems that a TGP cohort installed in January 2020; however, our partners were able to help the community submit an insurance claim and reinstall the solar microgrid system.  We understand that our programs affect more than our students and team at TGP, and so we take ethical community engagement seriously. Past program installations are integrated into every Nepal program too so students can understand the long-term impact, and sustainability initiatives are taken after they depart the program.  This provides a real-world learning outcome for students to learn about the accountability and complexities of global service-learning projects, and to engage in ethical reflection and dialogue.

Beyond the program experience, TGP has partnered with a local private energy company in Philadelphia, where TGP is headquartered to significantly reduce the financial barriers of this program by sponsoring the solar panels for TGP’s program installations for the next three years. This significantly reduces the total cost of the program which would have otherwise not been financially feasible for TGP or our students. In addition, TGP is honored to provide the Shine On Scholarship in memory of Kate Slattery, a mechanical engineer and photovoltaic designer for SolarCity who challenged herself and others to work toward a global mission of renewable energy and sustainability. The Shine On Scholarship awards women in STEM with $4,000 scholarships from a community of over 300 donors to participate on TGP’s Nepal program to study microgrids for rural development, and based on financial need.  

Throughout every TGP program, whether in-person or virtual, we strive to create an equitable program and provide sustainable opportunities, long-term learnings, benefits, and values for all of our participants and local partners and communities.

EQUITY, DIVERSITY, & INCLUSION: With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 193 United Nations Member States pledged to ensure “no one will be left behind” and to “endeavor to reach the furthest behind first.” When TGP’s Founder and CEO was a university student, studying abroad was not a financially viable option for her family, first-generation Chinese-Americans who immigrated to the United States from Malaysia. So in 2009, at 19 years old, Melissa Lee decided to design a new model of international education with our most pressing issues in sustainable development and accessibility in mind. This is how TGP’s short-term, 8-10 day intensive model came to be – a model made by students, for students. TGP was intentionally designed to be a fraction of the time and cost of traditional semester or year-long programs abroad, and allowed the busiest of students to still take summer classes, work, and gain international experience all in one summer break. As a minority and women led organization, equity, diversity, and inclusion are integral to TGP’s mission and work.  We’ve been intentional about our efforts to recruit and support historically underrepresented and underserved populations. This is evident in our program design, implementation, goals, objectives, and outcomes. In 2020, 40% of TGP’s participants represent people of color compared to the national standard of only 31% of U.S. students representing people of color. 52% of our participants represent women in STEM, while women account for only 32.4% of all STEM degree recipients according to the U.S. Department of Education. Moving forward, TGP strives to increase our program diversity to at least 50% representation of people of color with a focus on increasing support and enrollment for students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or Hispanic ethnicities. 

TGP also takes action to educate and advocate for environmental justice in our communities, with our alumni, and in higher education. This includes centering topics of climate justice in workshops, with the Climate Action Network for International Educators (CANIE), at conferences, and through events like our environmental justice hack-a-thon, all of which are developed to educate, motivate, and advocate for a just and equitable transition and center the stories of those most impacted by the climate crisis, while strategizing with the field how we can advocate to alleviate those impacts as educators. We also created the “TGP Advocacy & Intersectionality: Fighting Racism & Injustice Open-Sourced Library”, with the following goals: 1) To educate about the intersections of racism, environment, and sustainable development. 2) To advocate in solidarity and support with the fight against injustice towards BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities and racism. 3) To equip others with action steps and the empowerment to take them. See the resource here:–PogGGKKEelMCV9PDk/edit#gid=415755818 

Additionally, At The GREEN Program, we are proud to provide financial assistance for diverse sustainability leaders to participate in TGP’s programs abroad.  TGP’s Scholarship and Fellowship Programs offer competitive opportunities for outstanding individuals who represent disadvantaged, low-income, and underrepresented backgrounds to receive partial and full scholarships. We’ve joined forces with organizations who believe in the power of experiential education. Together, we provide financial support to educate and empower the planet’s future sustainability leaders who represent ethnic diversity, low-income, first-generation, LGBTQIA+, women in STEM, and more. TGP’s Fellowship Program is created for diverse and talented storytellers to share the stories of our world’s most pressing challenges and solutions, from a firsthand account. TGP Storytellers are action-oriented researchers, videographers, journalists, reporters, and bloggers who are eager to dig deep into sustainability and connect with industry leaders. TGP is proud to open our unique international experiences to storytellers because the stories we uncover, the places we explore, and the people who discover them deserve to be shared.

As shared earlier, as a key part of TGP’s Environmental Policy, we prioritize supplier diversity. ​​TGP will award contracts to local small businesses, minority owned businesses, women owned businesses, disadvantaged, and veteran owned businesses. We have a commitment to purchase core products from independent suppliers local to where the product will be used, where the programs take place, or where the company operates.  Our global team, vendors, and partners represent diverse and local voices. All of TGP’s programs are instructed by local faculty from the program destination, and guided by local residents of the country. The host community of all program destinations are included in the planning and assessment process of the programs, while providing economic growth and preservation of biodiversity in the communities in which we operate. One example of this is on our Iceland programs, where our cohorts plant up to 4,000 trees several times a year to help with Iceland’s reforestation efforts. 

To promote economic growth, before the pandemic, TGP had committed more than $1,000,000 each year to local, minority and women owned businesses. During the pandemic, our collaboration to our partners with the SDGs has not waivered – our programs continue to employ local instructors and staff from our program destinations with our SDGs focused courses (i.e. “Indigenous Knowledge for Sustainable Development”, “Ethics of Sustainable Development”, “Renewable Energy Innovation and Sustainability”).  It is our intention for every program to invest in long-term, sustainable partnerships that uplift local communities and our knowledgeable partners.  

Administrative Framework(Required)

OPERATIONS: How do your operational policies and practices reduce your programs’ carbon footprint on campus and abroad?

PROGRAM PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT: How do your program designs impact student learning outcomes around SDGs and improve medium- and long-term wellbeing of local communities? 

PERSONNEL: How do you engage, upskill and reward personnel on the basis of their SDG awareness and contributions?

PARTNERSHIPS & COLLABORATION: What partnerships have you developed and how do you engage with them to enhance progress towards SDGs?

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How do you engage with local communities to promote awareness and achievement of SDGs?


OPERATIONS: TGP integrates the SDGs into our company-wide environmental policy, procedures, and guidelines. See TGP’s environmental and emissions offsetting policies here: TGP’s Environmental Policy was adopted in order to: 

  • Conserve natural resources, 
  • Minimize environmental impacts such as pollution and use of water and energy, 
  • Eliminate or reduce toxins that create hazards to workers and our community, 
  • Work with local producers and suppliers who represent supplier diversity,
  • Support strong recycling markets, 
  • Reduce materials that are landfilled, 
  • Increase the use and availability of environmentally preferable products that protect the environment, 
  • Identify environmentally preferable products and distribution systems, 
  • Reward manufacturers and vendors that reduce environmental impacts in their production and distribution systems or services, and 
  • Create a model for successfully purchasing environmentally preferable products that encourages the use of agricultural fibers, chlorine-free manufacturing processes, wood from sustainably harvested forests, and other environmentally friendly practices, and that encourages other purchasers in our community to adopt similar goals. 
  • Advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through program operations and administration

TGP has been paperless since 2014, with electronic information distribution since then to reduce printing. To further reduce our environmental footprint, TGP has recently implemented a remote/ “work from anywhere” company policy that reduces and advocates for smart working and has eliminated commuting and the emissions tied to that. While video conferencing or virtual conferences are encouraged, TGP will also offset our team members’ flight emissions that are endured for meetings and conferences.  

PROGRAM PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT: In regards to program planning and development, itineraries are intentionally designed to be as low-impact as possible. To minimize our impact, we walk or take public transportation as a first option, where possible. Since 2016, TGP tracks and offsets the flight emissions of our students’ flights. We always use a verified third party to offset the emissions to a sustainable project that is voted upon by our alumni community every year. In 2021, TGP began discussions with Climeworks which has recently opened the world’s largest carbon capture power plant in Iceland. We are currently working on offsetting our program operations’ emissions in addition to our flights with a mix of carbon offsetting projects and carbon capture methods that are locally based where our programs operate. In addition to program development, the local community and local partners are always consulted when developing the curriculum, and everything else from accommodations, to excursion sites. Most if not all of TGP’s program accommodations and meals are provided and sourced locally (and farm to table, organically where possible). Many of our programs have a focus on rural tourism and economically support rural areas that are not crowded by overtourism. Over the past 12 years, we regularly meet with our partners to discuss the integration of the SDGs and how we can continue improving our work together for our students. 

PERSONNEL: Since 2009, TGP has employed faculty and staff who have diverse backgrounds, knowledge, and skills that have advanced our sustainability efforts. Our team is constantly learning and is a strong believer in taking a critical approach to our own sustainability efforts. While we have not integrated sustainability planning into our job descriptions, there is an inherent interest in all team members and partners to practice sustainability in and out of the office. We welcome all ideas on how TGP can further our sustainability efforts.  We strive to achieve a work culture that empowers our team to commit to positive environmental outcomes. The  TGP team has participated in several local community cleanups together over the years, and have our next clean up on September 25, with the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working with the City of Philadelphia to revitalize the tidal Schuylkill River corridor from the Fairmount Dam to the Delaware River.  In addition, one travel based program, alumni reunions, and our professional certificate programs are available for our team to attend at no cost as an employee benefit. This allows and encourages our employees to continue their sustainability education and skill building with TGP. 

Upon joining TGP, a very detailed manual and environmental policy is provided to all new employees that covers extensive recommendations for sustainable operations. In addition, there is high transparency from our CEO to employees on all of our practices, and open dialogue amongst employees on how we can be better on a quarterly basis. 

TGP also encourages our employees to be active members of their local communities. There are a lot of networking opportunities and events available for employees to attend, which TGP covers the cost of. 

PARTNERSHIPS & COLLABORATION: TGP is proud to have been a published U.N. partnership since 2015. We consistently update this yearly and are recognized to have met the SMART goals of the partnership initiative. See our partnership here:

TGP actively collaborates and engages with like-minded student organizations and professional organizations to educate the public and provide workshops and webinars free of charge on various topics of sustainability. This includes three workshops co-hosted with the Climate Action Network of International Educators (CANIE), with another three more planned for this semester alone, all on advocating for climate justice. We also work with several campuses to co-host events with organizations such as Engineers for a Sustainable World, Our Climate, and more.  

With every initial discussion whether it is with students or university partners, TGP explicitly states how we promote the SDGs in our program design, capstone projects, and company-wide sustainability policies. Because of our work, TGP is proud to have been recognized for the first “Sustainability International Impact Award ” in 2020 by The PIEoneer Awards, and “Green Innovator of the Year ” by The Clean Air Council to name a few. Our program design and partnership collaboration prioritizes sustainability as a mutually beneficial outcome between all parties. Since 2009, we’ve partnered with forward-thinking universities around the world who have embedded TGP’s programs into their university curriculum to provide transformative sustainability education abroad.  In 2019, we launch our first Master’s degree program, M.S. in International Sustainable Development & Climate Change with Antioch University – New England for the next generation of sustainability leaders and scholars. We can’t achieve a sustainable future alone, and TGP deeply values and appreciates our many partnerships and collaborations over the past twelve years. We are eager to work with more universities, partners, and organizations around the world to progress sustainability education and empower future sustainability leaders together.

Environmental Purchasing & Emissions Offsetting Policy


It is the policy of The GREEN Program to: 

  • Advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in TGP’s company-wide policies and procedures through administration and operations;
  • Institute practices that reduce waste by increasing product efficiency and effectiveness; 
  • Purchase products that minimize environmental impacts, toxics, pollution, and hazards to worker and community safety; 
  • Purchase products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their production, shipping, use and discard; and 
  • Purchase products that include recycled content, are durable and long-lasting, conserve energy and water, use agricultural fibers and residues, use unbleached or chlorine free manufacturing processes, are lead-free and mercury-free, and use wood from sustainably harvested forests. 


This Policy is adopted in order to: 

  • Conserve natural resources, 
  • Minimize environmental impacts such as pollution and use of water and energy, 
  • Eliminate or reduce toxins that create hazards to workers and our community, 
  • Support strong recycling markets, 
  • Reduce materials that are landfilled, 
  • Increase the use and availability of environmentally preferable products that protect the environment, 
  • Identify environmentally preferable products and distribution systems, 
  • Reward manufacturers and vendors that reduce environmental impacts in their production and distribution systems or services, and 
  • Create a model for successfully purchasing environmentally preferable products that encourages the use of agricultural fibers, chlorine-free manufacturing processes, wood from sustainably harvested forests, and other environmentally friendly practices, and that encourages other purchasers in our community to adopt similar goals. 
  • Advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


3.1 Source Reduction 

3.1.1 Institute practices that reduce waste, encourage reuse, and result in the purchase of fewer products. 

3.1.2 Purchase remanufactured products such as toner cartridges, tires, furniture, equipment and automotive parts. 

3.1.3 Consider short-term and long-term costs in comparing product alternatives. This includes evaluation of total costs expected during the time a product is owned, including, but not limited to, acquisition, extended warranties, operation, supplies, maintenance and replacement parts, disposal costs and expected lifetime compared to other alternatives. 

3.1.4 Purchase products that are durable, long lasting, reusable or refillable and avoid purchasing one-time use or disposable products. 

3.1.5 Request vendors eliminate packaging or use the minimum amount necessary for product protection. Vendors shall be encouraged to take back packaging for reuse. A vendor’s willingness to take back packaging will be used as part of the consideration in the bid process. 

3.1.6 Specify a preference for packaging that is reusable, recyclable or compostable, when suitable uses and programs exist. 

3.1.7 Encourage vendors to take back and reuse pallets and other shipping materials. 

3.1.8 Encourage suppliers of electronic equipment, including but not limited to computers, monitors, printers, and copiers, to take back equipment for reuse or environmentally sound recycling when The GREEN Program discards or replaces such equipment, whenever possible. Suppliers will be required to state their take back, reuse or recycling programs during the bidding process. 

3.1.9 Consider provisions in contracts with suppliers of non-electronic equipment that require suppliers to take back equipment for reuse or environmentally sound recycling when The GREEN Program discards or replaces such equipment, whenever possible. Suppliers will be required to state their take back, reuse or recycling programs during the bidding process. 

3.1.10 Promote electronic distribution of documents rather than printing or copying. 

3.1.11 When producing paper documents, print and copy all documents on both sides to reduce the use and purchase of paper. Printers and copiers shall be set to default to duplex. 

3.1.12 Reduce the number and type of equipment needed to perform office functions to save energy and reduce purchasing and maintenance costs. Eliminate desktop printers, redundant network printers and reduce the number of fax machines leased or owned by [the The GREEN Program]. Consider lease or purchase of multi-function devices. 

3.1.13 Ensure all imaging equipment is installed with energy and resource-efficient settings set as default. 

3.2 Recycled Content Products 

3.2.1 Purchase products for which the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has established minimum recycled content standard guidelines, such as those for printing paper, office paper, janitorial paper, construction, landscaping, parks and recreation, transportation, vehicles, miscellaneous, and non-paper office products, that contain the highest post-consumer content available, but no less than the minimum recycled content standards established by the U.S. EPA Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. 

3.2.2 Purchase multi-function devices, copiers and printers compatible with the use of recycled content and remanufactured products. 

3.2.3 In accordance with California Public Contract Code, Sec. 10409, purchase re- refined lubricating and industrial oil for use in its vehicles and other equipment, as long as it is certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API) as appropriate for use in such equipment. This section does not preclude the purchase of virgin- oil products for exclusive use in vehicles whose warranties expressly prohibit the use of products containing recycled oil. 

3.2.4 When specifying asphalt, concrete, aggregate base or portland cement concrete for road construction projects, use recycled, reusable or reground materials. 

3.2.5 Specify and purchase recycled content traffic control products, including signs, cones, parking stops, delineators, channelizers and barricades. 

3.2.6 Ensure pre-printed recycled content papers intended for distribution that are purchased or produced contain a statement that the paper is recycled content and indicate the percentage of post-consumer recycled content. 

3.3 Energy Efficient and Water Saving Products 

3.3.1 Purchase energy-efficient equipment with the most up-to-date energy efficiency functions. This includes, but is not limited to, high efficiency space heating systems and high efficiency space cooling equipment. 

3.3.2 Replace inefficient interior lighting with energy-efficient equipment. 

3.3.3 Replace inefficient exterior lighting, street lighting and traffic signal lights with energy-efficient equipment. Minimize exterior lighting where possible to avoid unnecessary lighting of architectural and landscape features while providing adequate illumination for safety and accessibility. 

3.3.4 Purchase U. S. EPA Energy Star certified products when available. When Energy Star labels are not available, choose energy-efficient products that are in the upper 25% of energy efficiency as designated by the Federal Energy Management Program. 

3.3.5 Purchase U.S. EPA WaterSense labeled water-saving products when available. This includes, but is not limited to, high-performance fixtures like toilets, low-flow faucets and aerators, and upgraded irrigation systems. 

3.4 Green Building Products and Practices 

3.4.1 Consider Green Building practices for design, construction, and operation as described in the LEED Rating Systems for all building and renovations undertaken by The GREEN Program. 

3.5 Landscaping Products and Practices 

3.5.1 Employ Local-Friendly Landscaping or sustainable landscape management techniques for all landscape renovations, construction and maintenance performed by The GREEN Program, including workers and contractors providing landscaping services for The GREEN Program, including, but not limited to, integrated pest management, grasscycling, drip irrigation, computerized central irrigation linked with the local weather station, composting, and procurement and use of mulch and compost that give preference to those produced from regionally generated plant debris and/or food scrap programs. 

3.5.2 Choose a Local-Friendly Qualified Landscape Professional for landscape design and maintenance services. Training and qualifications shall include landscaping locally, landscaping for less to the landfill, nurturing the soil, conserving water, conserving energy, protecting water and air quality, and creating wildlife habitat. 

3.5.3 Select plants to minimize waste by choosing species for purchase that are appropriate to the microclimate, species that can grow to their natural size in the space allotted them, and perennials rather than annuals for color. Native and drought-tolerant plants that require no or minimal watering once established are preferred. 

3.5.4 Hardscapes and landscape structures constructed of recycled content materials are encouraged. Limit the amount of impervious surfaces in the landscape. Permeable substitutes, such as permeable asphalt or pavers, are encouraged for walkways, patios and driveways. 

3.5.5 Create swales in all landscape renovations and construction performed by [the Organization] to assist in water run-off management. Develop outreach programs to instruct the public in the proper maintenance of swales. 

3.6 Toxics and Pollution Prevention Products and Practices 

3.6.1 Manage pest problems through prevention and physical, mechanical and biological controls when [the Organization] and its contractors maintain buildings and landscapes. The [Organization] may either adopt and implement an Organic Pest Management (OPM) policy and practices or adopt and implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy and practices using the least toxic pest control as a last resort. 

3.6.2 Use products with the lowest amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), highest recycled content, low or no formaldehyde and no halogenated organic flame retardants when purchasing building maintenance materials such as paint, carpeting, adhesives, furniture and casework. 

3.6.3 Purchase or require janitorial contractors to supply, industrial and institutional cleaning products that meet Green Seal or UL/EcoLogo certification standards for environmental preferability and performance. 

3.6.4 Purchase, or require janitorial contractors to supply, vacuum cleaners that meet the requirements of the Carpet and Rug Institute Green Label/Seal of Approval Program for soil removal, dust containment and carpet fiber retention for indoor air quality protection and performance cleaning standards. Other janitorial cleaning equipment should be capable of capturing fine particulates, removing sufficient moisture so as to dry within 24 hours, operate with a sound level less than 70dBA, and use high-efficiency, low-emissions engines. 

3.6.5 Purchase paper, paper products, and janitorial paper products that are unbleached or are processed without chlorine or chlorine derivatives. 

3.6.6 Prohibit the purchase of products that use polyvinyl chloride (PVC) such as, but not limited to, furniture and flooring. 

3.6.7 Purchase products and equipment with no lead or mercury whenever possible. For products that contain lead or mercury, [the Organization] should give preference to those products with lower quantities of these metals and to vendors with established lead and mercury recovery programs. In addition, whenever lead- or mercury-containing products require disposal, [the Organization] will dispose of those products in the most environmentally safe manner possible. All fluorescent lamps and batteries will be recycled. 

3.6.8 Purchase or specify personal computers, displays, imaging equipment and televisions that meet, at a minimum, all Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) environmental criteria designated as “required” as contained in the IEEE 1680 family of Environmental Assessment Standards. 

3.6.9 Purchase or specify office furniture that meets the California Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI) and Department of Consumer Affairs standard Technical Bulletin 117- 2013 for testing upholstered furniture flammability without the use of flame retardant chemicals. 

3.6.10 Purchase or specify commercial carpeting that meets NSF/ANSI 140 Standard for Sustainable Carpet Assessment and require old carpet that is removed be recycled. 

3.6.11 Purchase or specify non-carpet floor coverings that meet NSF/ANSI 332 Standard for Resilient Flooring including vinyl, linoleum and rubber flooring. 

3.6.12 When replacing vehicles, consider less-polluting alternatives to diesel such as compressed natural gas, bio-based fuels, hybrids, electric batteries, and fuel cells, as available. 

3.7 Bio-Based Products 

3.7.1 Encourage the use of vehicle fuels made from non-wood, plant-based contents such as vegetable oils whenever practicable. 

3.7.2 Use paper, paper products and construction products made from non-wood, plant-based contents such as agricultural crops and residues. 

3.7.3 Use bio-based plastic products that are biodegradable and compostable, such as bags, film, food and beverage containers, and cutlery. 

3.7.4 Purchase compostable plastic products that meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards as found in ASTM D6400. Meet ASTM D6868 standards for biodegradable plastics used as coatings on paper and other compostable substrates. 

3.7.5 Ask vendors to provide proof of compliance with ASTM standards for compostable, biodegradable and degradable plastic products upon request. One acceptable proof of compliance for compostable plastic products will be certification by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). 

3.8 Forest Conservation Products 

3.8.1 To the greatest extent practicable, do not procure wood products such as lumber and paper that originate from forests harvested in an environmentally unsustainable manner. When possible, give preference to wood products that are certified to be sustainably harvested by a comprehensive, performance-based certification system. The certification system shall include independent third-party audits, with standards equivalent to, or stricter than, those of the Forest Stewardship Council certification. 

3.8.2 Encourage the purchase or use of previously used or salvaged wood and wood products whenever practicable. 


4.1 The health and safety of workers and citizens is of utmost importance and takes precedence over all other practices. Nevertheless, [the Organization] recognizes its duty to act in a fiscally responsible as well as a timely manner. 

4.2 Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed as requiring a department, purchaser or contractor to procure products that do not perform adequately for their intended use, exclude adequate competition, risk the health or safety of workers and citizens, or are not available at a reasonable price in a reasonable period of time. 

4.3 Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed as requiring [the Organization], department, purchaser, or contractor to take any action that conflicts with local, state or federal requirements. 

4.4 [Organization] has made significant investments in developing a successful recycling system and recognizes that recycled content products are essential to the continuing viability of that recycling system and for the foundation of an environmentally sound production system. Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable, recycled content shall be included in products that also meet other specifications, such as chlorine free or bio-based. 


5.1 The [Director of Purchasing, Director of Finance, other responsible director] shall implement this policy in coordination with other appropriate [Organization] personnel. 

5.2 Require successful bidders to certify in writing that the environmental attributes claimed in competitive bids are accurate. In compliance with State law, vendors shall be required to specify the minimum or actual percentage of recovered and post-consumer material in their products, even when such percentages are zero. 

5.3 Upon request, buyers making the selection from competitive bids shall be able to provide justification for product choices that do not meet the environmentally preferable purchasing criteria in this policy. 

5.4 Include businesses certified by the local Green Business Program in purchasing requests for products and services. 

5.5 Encourage vendors, contractors and grantees to comply with applicable sections of this policy for products and services provided to The GREEN Program. 


6.1 The President shall periodically evaluate the success of this policy’s implementation and report to the Company. 


7.1 “American Society for Testing and Materials” means ASTM International, an open forum for the development of high quality, market relevant international standards use around the globe. 

7.2 “Local Area Green Business Program” is a partnership of governments and businesses that certifies the environmental performance of government agencies and businesses in the local area. 

7.3 “Local-Friendly Landscaping” means working with the natural ecosystems of the local area to foster soil health, to reduce runoff and pollution, prevent and reuse plant waste, and conserve water and other natural resources. 

7.4 “Bio-Based Products” means commercial or industrial products (other than food or feed) that utilize agricultural crops or residues but does not include products made from forestry materials 

7.5 “Biodegradable plastic” means the degradation of the plastic must occur as a result of the action of naturally occurring microorganisms. 

7.6 “Biodegradable Products Institute” (BPI) is a multi-stakeholder association of key individuals and groups from government, industry and academia, which promotes the use, and recycling of biodegradable polymeric materials (via composting). BPI does not create standards but certifies products that demonstrate they meet the requirements in ASTM D6400 or D6868, based on testing in an approved laboratory. 

7.7 “Buyer” means anyone authorized to purchase or contract for purchases on behalf of this jurisdiction or its subdivisions. 

7.8 “The Carpet and Rug Institute” (CRI) is the national trade association representing the carpet and rug industry. CRI has developed and administered the “Green Label” indoor air quality testing and labeling program for carpet, adhesives, cushion materials and vacuum cleaners. The “Green Label Plus” testing program incorporates additional requirements to meet California’s Collaborative for High Performance Schools low-emitting materials criteria. 

7.9 “Compostable plastic” means plastic that is biodegradable during composting to yield carbon dioxide, water and inorganic compounds and biomass, at a rate consistent with other known compostable materials and leaves no visually distinguishable or toxic residues. 

7.10 “Contractor” means any person, group of persons, business, consultant, designing architect, association, partnership, corporation, supplier, vendor or other entity that has a contract with [the Organization] or serves in a subcontracting capacity with an entity having a contract with [the Organization] for the provision of goods or services. 

7.11 “Degradable plastic” means plastic that undergoes significant changes in its chemical structure under specific environmental conditions. 

7.12 “EcoLogo” is a third-party, multi-attribute eco-labeling program founded by the Canadian government in 1988 and part of UL Environment since 2010. The Program compares products / services with others in the same category, develops rigorous and scientifically relevant criteria, and awards the EcoLogo to those that are environmentally preferable throughout their entire lifecycle. 

7.13 “Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool” (EPEAT) is a procurement tool to help institutional purchasers in the public and private sectors evaluate, compare and select personal computers, displays, imaging equipment and televisions based on their environmental attributes. 

7.14 “Energy Star” means the U.S. EPA’s energy efficiency product labeling program. 

7.15 “Energy-Efficient Product” means a product that is in the upper 25% of energy efficiency for all similar products, or that is at least 10% more efficient than the minimum level that meets Federal standards. 

7.16 “Federal Energy Management Program” is a program of the Department of Energy that issues a series of Product Energy Efficiency Recommendations that identify recommended efficiency levels for energy-using products. 

7.17 “Forest Stewardship Council” is a global organization that certifies responsible, on-the-ground forest management according to rigorous standards developed by a broad variety of stakeholder groups. 

7.18 “Green Seal” is an independent, non-profit environmental labeling organization. Green Seal standards for products and services meet the U.S. EPA’s criteria for third-party certifiers. The Green Seal is a registered certification mark that may appear only on certified products. 

7.19 “Integrated Pest Management” is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment. 

7.20 “LEED Rating System” means the most recent version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System, approved by the U.S. Green Building Council, and designed for rating new and existing commercial, institutional, and residential buildings. 

7.21 “NSF/ANSI” means NSF International follows the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards development process. Standards are developed by joint committees (balanced stakeholder groups of public health, industry and user representatives). 

7.22 “Organic Pest Management” prohibits the use and application of toxic chemical pesticides and strives to prevent pest problems through the application of natural, organic horticultural and maintenance practices. All pest control products shall be in keeping with, but not limited to, those products on the approved list of California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). 

7.23 “Post-consumer Material” means a finished material which would normally be disposed of as a solid waste, having reached its intended end-use and completed its life cycle as a consumer item, and does not include manufacturing or converting wastes. 

7.24 “Pre-consumer Material” means material or by-products generated after manufacture of a product is completed but before the product reaches the end-use consumer. Pre-consumer material does not include mill and manufacturing trim, scrap, or broke which is generated at a manufacturing site and commonly reused on-site in the same or another manufacturing process. 

7.25 “Recovered Material” means fragments of products or finished products of a manufacturing process, which has converted a resource into a commodity of real economic value, and includes pre-consumer and post-consumer material but does not include excess resources of the manufacturing process. 

7.26 “Recycled Content” means the percentage of recovered material, including pre- consumer and post-consumer materials, in a product. 

7.27 “Recycled Content Standard” means the minimum level of recovered material and/or post-consumer material necessary for products to qualify as “recycled products.” 

7.28 “Recycled Product” means a product that meets The GREEN Program’s recycled content policy objectives for post-consumer and recovered material. 

7.29 “Remanufactured Product” means any product diverted from the supply of discarded materials by refurbishing and marketing said product without substantial change to its original form. 

7.30 “Reused Product” means any product designed to be used many times for the same or other purposes without additional processing except for specific requirements such as cleaning, painting or minor repairs. 

7.31 “Source Reduction” refers to products that result in a net reduction in the generation of waste compared to their previous or alternate version and includes durable, reusable and remanufactured products; products with no, or reduced, toxic constituents; and products marketed with no, or reduced, packaging. 

7.32 “U.S. EPA Guidelines” means the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for federal agency purchases as of October 2007 and any subsequent versions adopted. 

7.33 “Water-Saving Products” are those that are in the upper 25% of water conservation for all similar products, or at least 10% more water-conserving than the minimum level that meets the Federal standards. 

7.34 “WaterSense” means a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Independent, third-party licensed certifying bodies certify that products meet EPA criteria for water efficiency and performance by following testing and certification protocols specific to each product category. Products that are certified to meet EPA specifications are allowed to bear the WaterSense label. 


8.1 This policy shall take effect on 1/1/2020. 

2.6 Supplier Diversity Policy

The GREEN Program is committed to developing mutually beneficial relationships with small, minority-owned, women-owned, disadvantaged, veteran owned, and local business enterprises. The Supplier Diversity Policy reflects the Company’s desire to create opportunity for suppliers to market their products and to encourage other companies and organizations to offer opportunities to such suppliers. 

Policy Statement 

When all business considerations are determined to be equal among competitive suppliers, the Company will award contracts to local small businesses, minority owned business enterprises (MBE), women owned business enterprises (WBE), disadvantaged, and veteran owned businesses. We have a commitment to purchase core products (at least 50% of expenses) from independent suppliers local to where the product will be used or where the company operates. 

Employees are encouraged to explore opportunities to obtain services and goods from certified diversity suppliers that can provide competitive quality and pricing. 


Purchasing Services: Encourage departments to explore opportunities to include and utilize small, minority-owned diversity suppliers (MBE/WBE) to compete for business and from whom to obtain goods and services whenever possible.

Department Managers: All department managers should explore opportunities to obtain goods and services from diversity suppliers.


The Purchasing Department will participate with local initiatives in order to maintain awareness of resources and will encourage diversity suppliers to meet with staff to review product/service specifications, and review supplier qualifications including licenses, certification, and insurance requirements as appropriate.

Departments should search the local state government websites to identify diversity suppliers whenever possible.

Read Another Article

Honoring Kate Slattery & Highlighting the Shine On Scholarship for Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, The GREEN Program is happy to highlight Kate Slattery – a mechanical engineer and photovoltaic designer for SolarCity who challenged herself and others to work toward a global mission of renewable energy and sustainability. We are honored to work with Kate’s family and GivePower to share Kate’s story and provide the Shine On Scholarship to TGP students in memory of Kate. 

read more

How an Online Sustainability Program Helped Jaedyn Medrano Become an Intersectional Sustainability Advocate

This blog features the virtual Nepal Ethics of Sustainable Development Alum, Jaedyn Medrano who says, “this program taught me how to think about a project holistically, and it has guided me along the path to being a better cultured and inclusive young professional.” She is set to graduate with a double major in Renewable Natural Resources & Ecological Restorations in December of 2022.

read more

Defending Reproductive Rights in the Battle for Climate Justice

Reproductive Justice is Climate Justice. The GREEN Program stands to defend the reproductive rights of all women and people who give birth to access safe reproductive health care. We must do more to educate others and understand the interconnection between Reproductive Justice and the Climate Crisis. It’s important to draw the connections between climate change, pollution, and reproductive rights.

read more

An International Graduate Student Embraces Nepali Culture by Studying Abroad through Shine On Scholarship

On one hand, I believe that every student should be given a chance to study abroad at least once in their life, because it teaches us things that textbooks cannot: adaptability, resilience, curiosity, empathy, just to name a few. Whether good or bad, bursting our bubble and learning about our world will inspire us and open our minds. On the other hand, the people we interact with benefit from the diversity, because all of us bring unique perspectives to the table. Perhaps we share an idea that no one has thought of but could be key to solving a problem; we fuel the aspirations of someone who is facing similar difficulties; or help take down stereotypes.  

read more

Remembering Juneteenth and the Fight for Environmental Justice

n June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. It is on this day every year since that we celebrate “Juneteenth” as the end of slavery in the United States. It is a day that we celebrate ancestors and leaders who fought to be liberated. We celebrate their power, resiliency, and tenacity. 

read more

LGBTQ+ Leaders and Organizations in Sustainability to Know About this Pride Month

The GREEN Program loves to celebrate love, and there is no better way to do that this month than by recognizing a few LGBTQ+ leaders and organizations that are making a difference not just in their own communities but for our planet altogether. Read below to learn more about some people and spaces that are working together to promote a better world that focuses on inclusion and equality.

read more

Meet 8 AAPI Leaders in Sustainability: Across the Globe and At Home

The month of May is known to many as the end of classes and the start of Summer, but May is also known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Our team at TGP wanted to take a moment to recognize the contributions and influence of AAPI Americans throughout history, culture, and achievements both on a global scale, and from those who are a bit close to home. We also encourage you to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month and get involved through additional resources.

read more

From a Start Up to a Sustainability Study Abroad Program: How Patrick Applied his Passion for Renewable Energy in Iceland

When Fall 2021 rolled around and I saw the TGP scholarship opportunity, I thought I’d apply not expecting much. When I found out that I actually got it, I was like “I guess I’m actually doing this!”. I was a little nervous and anxious but also so excited for the opportunity! I was also grateful that the enrollment process was very smooth for me with no significant challenges along the way.

read more

Boston University Student Gains a Unique Perspective for Renewable Energy & Sustainability by Studying Abroad in Iceland

Global experiences have definitely shaped me into the person I am today through increased cultural awareness and sensitivity. Getting to really know a great group of diverse individuals from all over the world has not only shaped my perspective on current world issues, but has also allowed me to take a glance at certain topics from another angle and point of view.

read more

A Construction Science Major Turns Lessons into Opportunity after a Sustainability Study Abroad Program 

AJ Ewing spent his past Winter Break a little bit differently than most students, by studying abroad on our GREEN Nepal program. As a Construction Science major, AJ notes that he was nervous coming into the study abroad program having no prior experience in sustainability or electrical/solar grids, but he was excited and eager to learn. As soon as he arrived, all his nerves were gone as he was welcomed by our team and ready to dive in. Now, he can honestly say that when he thinks of The GREEN Program, he thinks of “family away from home.”

read more

How a Geologist Made His Sustainability Dream in Iceland a Reality through a Study Abroad Scholarship

As someone who is in a field with a limited representation of ethnic minorities, TGP created a neutral ground where there was a range of diversity on different levels. My GREEN Program experience in Iceland wasn’t just about the adventures and cultural immersion, but about the education too. I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures because I saw how passionate the different lecturers were about their work and research which is truly inspiring. As a geologist, learning more about the wonder that is Iceland in Iceland was definitely a dream come true.

read more

Get to Know GREENie: Maryam Aida Tidjani

Maryam Aida Tidjani got to experience a brand new kind of GREEN Program during the hard times the world was facing, a 100% Virtual and Online experience. Initially planning on traveling to Peru in 2021, the global pandemic continued to shift things around and we had to pivot all travel programs to Online experiences.

read more

Subscribe to The GREEN Program newsletter & updates

Skip to content