Along with the specific attributes designated by Congress for consideration when purchasing products, the U.S. Department of Energy also takes into consideration other environmentally preferable attributes, such as seeking products that are safer for staff and products without hazardous waste disposal costs. Such environmentally preferable attributes might be no volatile organic compounds in paint, no lead or mercury in computer equipment, etc.
Executive Order 13423 specifies that Federal agencies shall purchase "products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, or disposal of the product or service."
Federal agencies are to use all of the options available to determine environmentally preferable attributes, including the use of technical expertise of nongovernmental entities, such as labeling, certification, or standard-developing organizations. Some useful websites for labeling, certification, standards, life-cycle evaluations of products are:
Should such shorthand information not be available about the product in question, DOE Order 430.1 describes the process--a life cycle analysis-for weighing and determining environmentally preferable attributes. This website also offers some information and tools on life cycle analyses.