Lessons in Sustainability

Carro Ford, Xerox Corp.

How do colleges and universities save the planet?

They modify energy sources. Construct more-sustainable new buildings. Change investment policies. Sign climate-neutral pacts. Shift to natural gas for campus power. Offset energy through wind power. If you’re part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), you might be one of the schools taking big steps like these.

Through ACUPCC, over 665 institutions have pledged to actively support climate neutrality in their operations, education, research and community engagement. Hundreds of ACUPCC institutions have publicly reported their greenhouse gas emissions inventories and published climate action plans.

Top-Down Commitment and Grassroots Results

Clearly, higher ed has made progress, especially where there is top-down commitment to environmental issues. By agreeing to ACUPCC, university presidents commit their campuses to making significant changes. That’s about as top-down as it gets.

Action at the grass roots level also helps. In “Presidential Perspectives. 2013-2014 Series: Elevating Sustainability Through Academic Leadership,” the editors note that “Institutional leaders must recognize that promoting sustainability begins internally with campus infrastructure, business practices, and university policies.” It doesn’t get more “grass-roots” than putting focus on printed documents and the devices that support them.

Dramatic Results from Managed Print Services

One example that’s getting attention is Cleveland State University, part of the Ohio public university system. With a student body of over 16,000, plus 575 faculty and 1,000 staff, you can imagine the amount of printing going on. Or maybe you can’t. Cleveland State didn’t either.

In a recent article about the project on Castleink.com, Jack Boyle, Cleveland State Senior Fellow and Former Vice President, Business Affairs and Finance, stated, “We really didn’t know how many devices were out there and where they were, and how many copies they were producing. It was an eye-opener when we discovered that there were over 2,500 devices that various departments and colleges were maintaining.”

Xerox began working with Cleveland State University in 2013 to manage printing and improve sustainability. As it turned out, Xerox also helped the university save a lot of money. A lot of money.

Achieving A More Sustainable Campus

A state-issued mandate required Ohio public universities to reduce energy spending by 20 percent by 2014. Cleveland State administration looked into typical cost-cutting efforts like more efficient lighting, but it was printers that would end up giving them dramatic results.

Among the energy-efficiency bids Cleveland State received was a Managed Print Services proposal from Xerox. Xerox promised to make campus printing more energy efficient and guaranteed $500,000 in print savings within the first year, putting the actual estimate for energy and print savings at $525,000.

In other coverage in Baseline magazine, Boyle pointed out “One of the things we kept track of early on was usage patterns. A lot of departments said they needed two printers. We looked at the usage patterns over the first year and made changes when we found that one of the printers was not being used—or was seldom being used.”

Fewer Printers. Less Energy. Full Functionality.

The Xerox MPS assessment led to an 86 percent reduction in print devices, from 2,500 to just 350. By optimizing the print environment, the university also slashed energy consumption. However, faculty and employees still had access to multifunction devices in their work areas. “Everybody has the functionality to be able to get color,” Boyle said.

As Xerox Managed Print Services transformed campus printing, there were fewer devices to manage, and paper volume dropped. “We were actually producing 41 million pieces of paper every year through the 2,500 pieces of equipment we had on campus. As it turned out, after year one, we were down to just under 32 million pieces of paper,” Boyle noted.

While sustainability results hit their targets, cost savings went over the top, coming in at $685,000 in the first year of the 10-year agreement. The university reduced kilowatt expenditure by more than half. With the MPS contract in place, the university’s energy usage dropped from 425,000 to 200,000 kilowatts per hour.

Cleveland State Sustainability Summary:

  • Savings of $550,000- $600,000 annually in equipment, maintenance and energy costs
  • 56 percent greenhouse gas reduction
  • 59 percent solid waste reduction
  • Exceeded state sustainability requirements

Want inspiration for your sustainability goals? These short videos might just do it.

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