EPE TIG Week: Shari Grossarth on Trying Out a Knowledge Synthesis Approach for Sustainable Purchasing

Hi! I’m Shari Grossarth from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Evaluation Support Division. I’m part of a team at EPA that’s trying out a knowledge synthesis approach to inform our work to advance sustainable purchasing in the federal government and other large institutions. The project is still underway, but I’ll share a bit about it and some of the resources we’re using to guide our approach.

Our focus is on understanding outcomes and lessons learned from servicizing approaches. Servicizing is the procurement of a function of a product rather than the product itself, like bike-sharing instead of bike ownership or purchasing a floor covering system instead of carpet. Servicizing should lead to more sustainable outcomes, like fewer products being produced, products being made to last and customers using only what they need, but we want to see what the existing knowledge base tells us about outcomes.

We’re casting a broad search for existing evaluative knowledge relevant to outcomes and lessons learned from servicizing approaches, and synthesizing the key findings to inform EPA’s efforts and share with others. Our general approach is depicted in the graphic below. We’ll search a broad range of evaluative knowledge, including grey literature, published literature, evaluations, and discussions with experts. We’ll synthesize the knowledge we find and create an online collection to share the key findings and knowledge sources. We hope that the collection will ultimately become a collaborative space where others add and share additional related knowledge. We’re working with IssueLab, a knowledge sharing platform, and collaborating with the Environmental Evaluators Network (EEN) in their efforts to develop an Architecture for Environmental Evaluation, or ArchEE.


Rad Resources: We’re truly trying this out, borrowing from other related endeavors and learning as we go. These are some of the resources we’ve referenced to shape our efforts.

Image courtesy of Shari Grossarth

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Environmental Program Evaluation TIG Week with our colleagues in the Environmental Program Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EPE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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