Embrace Environmentalism

Here are some easy ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your IT organization.

Green computing not only helps save the environment, but it also helps save your organization money. One area in which to focus your efforts is printing, where the small steps your state, county or city takes can have a big impact.

Decrease Paper Waste

First, identify areas where your organization can reduce paper waste. According to Gartner, the sheer number of printing devices in use — 178 million printers, copiers and devices were shipped in 2007 — has a negative impact on the environment.

The Gartner report indicates the solution is primarily behavioral: Organizations should print less and teach their staff to conserve. One example: hospital admissions, where preprinted, multipart government health-care forms are distributed to patients upon arrival. This process generates paper waste by using the second and third parts of the multipart form for records storage and by preprinting forms that become obsolete and have to be thrown away.

State, county and city governments can eliminate these sources of waste by using multifunction printers (MFPs) instead of preprinted forms. MFPs can print forms on demand, print confidential documents with watermarks and even print documents securely. Electronic versions of these documents, rather than carbon copies, can then be routed to other departments or agencies within a federal or state system for storage. The MFP also eliminates waste from obsolescence because it always prints the latest version of any form and prints only at the time of use.

Print Wisely

MFPs that consolidate the functions of several energy-consuming devices onto a single device offer many ways to help organizations use less. A duplex feature reduces the amount of paper consumed by printing on both sides of the page, and reference documents can easily be printed with multiple “pages” on a single sheet. One particularly useful feature is the "proof then print" option. This allows a user to send a multiple-copy print job to the printer, which first prints a single copy for proofing. If the proof is acceptable, the user can continue the job from the printer without returning to their workstation, saving time and avoiding multiple wasted copies.

In most cases, there’s no added cost for adopting these measures. Organizations simply need to choose eco-conscious manufacturers and look for specific features and functionality to reap the benefits. The payoff for such investments and practices includes using less energy, putting the least amount of paper in landfills, reducing the impact on the environment and saving money.

Nov 03 2008