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This Protocol, NSF P391 General Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Services and Service Providers, has been developed as part of the ongoing efforts of a number of interested parties with the goal of documenting and improving the sustainability profile of service providers. Stakeholders involved in developing the Protocol included service providers, end users, state agencies responsible for environmentally preferable product procurement practices, the academic community, and non-governmental organizations.

The purpose of NSF P391 is to address the environmental, economic, and social impact of services, and the practices of service providers. The criteria in this protocol ensure that service providers meet the expectations of the personnel responsible for procurement of sustainable services, including services requiring the use of products. As a starting point, general criteria have been developed that are applicable to all service provider types and sectors. The criteria are intended to be used by any organization for the assessment of their sustainability practices. These criteria are intended to form the basis of conformity assessment programs, such as third-party certification or registration.

In October 2009, the President of the United States issued Executive Order (EO) 13514, which represents a new level of Federal commitment to sustainability. It requires agencies to ?prioritize actions based on a full accounting of both economic and social benefits and costs.? The EO also increases sustainable acquisition by requiring 95% of applicable contract actions, including services, to be energy-efficient, water-efficient, bio-based, environmentally preferable, non-ozone depleting, contain recycled content, or non-toxic or less toxic alternatives.

The General Services Administration sought a means by which to assess the sustainability practices of their service providers. The GSA determined that this protocol could lead to the development of an American National Standard to identify services that comply with the EO 13514.

Comments on this Protocol should be sent to NSF International, Standards Department, P.O. Box 130140, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48113-0140, USA or to ncss@nsf.org.