City of San Francisco Case Study

April 7, 2021


San Francisco’s successful use of the EPEAT ecolabel in procurement is based on strong foundational sustainability policies that align with purchasing processes and approvals.

  • EPEAT’s multi-attribute life cycle criteria helps San Francisco leverage their IT purchases to achieve a wide array of sustainability focused goals.
  • EPEAT helped San Francisco achieve its sustainable purchasing goals without meaningfully hindering product availability or resulting in increased pricing.
  • The percentage of purchases of EPEAT Gold-registered products has consistently been over 80%. This percentage declined somewhat (to purchase of 63% Gold registered products) in 2019 due to the rollout of new, more rigorous EPEAT criteria which reduced the availability of Gold tier products for several months.


The City and County of San Francisco (the City), population 884,000, is known as a global hub of IT innovation and a pioneer in sustainability leadership. The City’s sustainability leadership manifests itself through a suite of sustainable purchasing policies that require the purchase of sustainable IT products and services. The City government has diverse and specialized IT needs, including an international airport and a large system of reservoirs, water supply, and electrical rights of way that extend across the state. In FY 2019-20, San Francisco spent $350 million on IT projects.

The City began requiring EPEAT Gold for computers, laptops, and monitor purchases in 2008 and has expanded its use of EPEAT to include office imaging equipment, televisions, and servers as of January 2019. When San Francisco adopted EPEAT in 2008, it became the first major US city to require EPEAT Gold in its computer purchases.

The City’s impetus for pursuing EPEAT is based upon multiple overlapping ordinances that promote the purchase of sustainable products and services. At the highest level, the City’s Precautionary Principle Policy (Env. Code, Chapt. 1) establishes a general mandate for taking proactive measures to prevent harm, especially in the realm of toxic chemicals. More specifically to sustainable procurement, the City’s Green Purchasing Program aims its efforts at a wide variety of impact areas, reflective of its mandates in the San Francisco Environment Code. For this reason, the City has long favored the use of EPEAT since it contains broad multi-attribute criteria.