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Sean Murray

Students, faculty, and staff are now beginning to see the positive impact initiatives to
reduce paper usage on the KU campus are having on the environmental footprint of the
A year ago, KU Information Technology (IT) worked with the Center for Sustainability
to update the campus infrastructure and make it more environmentally friendly. The first step
reduced printing by when multi-function devices (MFDs), which can print, scan and copy
documents, replaced traditional printers. The partnership also promoted the use of online
programs, such as Blackboard, to digitally complete homework and submit assignments.
Multi-function device usage at KU in fiscal year 2013 reduced the number of printed
pages by approximately 11 million, said David Day, director of external affairs at KU IT. That
11 million pages is a stack of a paper 3,600 feet high, which is equal to the height of 30
The University continues to build on this success. This semester, KU IT began requiring
students to login with their KU online I.D. and password at the MFD before each print job is
printed. If students send a document to be printed then notice an error, that document will not be
printed, Day said. Requiring students to release each print job by logging in may increase the
size of lines at printing locations, but it also reduces the number of unwanted printed documents.
It gets students thinking about whether they even need to print a document to take to a
meeting or to class, said Kim Criner, education and outreach coordinator at the Center for
Becoming a more environmentally friendly campus starts at the student level with a
change in the mindset to print more because it is more available, Criner said.
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The IT department also broadened KU software offerings this semester, which could also
cut down on paper consumption. In addition to the Blackboard system used in classrooms by
students and professors, a new unified communications program called Microsoft Lync allows
online collaboration on documents. With Lync, a group of students can open and edit a document
together online and communicate the entire time through voice or video calls, Day said. This will
also reduce University paper usage since students will no longer have to print off personal copies
of a group project in order to discuss and revise it together.
Another benefit of Lync is its use across platforms. According to a student survey
conducted in fall 2013 by a journalism campaigns class for KU IT, 91 percent of students own a
smartphone. As a result, IT placed an emphasis on a communication tool like Lync that could be
used on a mobile phone as well as on a computer or tablet. A variety of chat functions are
already available to students, so the real value of Lync is in the voice, the video, and the online
meetings functions on all platforms regardless of location, Day said.
Another initiative rolled out by the IT department this semester focuses on reducing
paper usage within the administrative offices of other departments on campus. IT implemented
Scanning and Document Workflow model, which encourages University departments to shift
from storing paper files to archiving digital copies of documents on a shared database, Criner
said. For example, the Financial Aid and Scholarships office has scanned and archived
approximately 30,000 files to date, which equates to a stack 625 feet high, according to the KU
IT 2013 Annual Report.
The Center for Sustainability is also involved in promoting the purchase of recycled
paper by departments at the University. The higher price point is one of the main issues that
keeps departments from purchasing recycled content paper, Criner said, but the Center for
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Sustainability is working to coordinate departments to negotiate for a discounted bulk price for
recycled paper.
Obviously, it is better to use the resource that comes from already used resources instead
of brand new trees, Criner said. However, its never that easy.
The KU community continues to make strides toward a more environmentally friendly
campus with a lighter ecological footprint with each new initiative.
We know that sustainability is an important issue for students, so we continually need
ideas and feedback on how to keep improving, Day said.

Tips to Reduce Paper Use
! Print double-sided documents
! Provide digital documents for download
! Send documents to others via email
! Mark on documents digitally using Lync
! Scan paper documents for distribution
! Reformat documents with smaller margins
! Store files in a digital database
! Subscribe to online newspapers
! Take notes on laptops or tablets
! Keep scrap paper for later use