EcoLog Environmental Resources Group

A sustainability calculator - how green is your office?


The Xerox Corporation has launched the industry's first sustainability calculator designed to help its customers pinpoint opportunities to reduce the environmental impacts of offices while reducing costs.

The calculator is a software tool that measures the overall impact that a company's document technologies have on the environment. It's the newest assessment tool available through Xerox Office Services. This division works directly with clients to assess their current systems and make recommendations to improve efficiency and reduce costs. A Xerox Office Services consultant meets with a client and conducts an assessment of its document management system. He or she will review all existing devices, systems and processes related to the creation, delivery, storage and sharing of documents.

'The consultant can then show you the opportunities to improve your system and usually reduce costs by 20 per cent to 30 per cent,' says Patricia Calkins, Vice- President of Environment, Health & Safety at Xerox. She notes that printers, for example, are only used one per cent to two per cent of the time during the workday and remain idle about 98 per cent, drawing on power and needing regular servicing.

'We found that most companies have document equipment -- printers, fax machines and photocopiers -- that are eight years old or older,' says Calkins. 'They aren't even the newest technology.'

Just replacing these three pieces of equipment with one multifunction product that prints, scans, faxes and copies can contribute to significant savings. Xerox also knew, at least anecdotally, that clients were also reducing their environmental impacts while they improved their efficiency and reduced their costs.

'Clients began to ask us if we could quantify the environmental results they were achieving,' says Calkins. Thus, the sustainability calculator was created.


The sustainability calculator software evaluates the current office data and then measures environmental benefits that could be achieved in terms of energy and paper use, solid waste, water, air and greenhouse gas emissions. It can be used to audit improvements or predict how planned changes will have an impact on the environment, says Calkins.

Prior to the calculator's launch on March 25, 2008, Xerox chose clients from Europe and North American to participate in beta testing for the sustainability calculator. For global defence and technology company Northrop Grumman Corporation, the calculator demonstrated that in one sector alone, it was able to save 27 per cent in energy usage, 26 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions and 33 per cent in solid waste. This sector had more than 2,000 printers, hundreds of multifunction printers and standalone copiers prior to using Xerox Office Services. Their consultant identified how the company could reduce this equipment to less than 1,100 devices.

The Xerox consultant populated the calculator with information including equipment specifications and usage patterns with the original number of devices. Following that, the calculator evaluated the new office configuration and was able to demonstrate areas where Northrop Grumman had achieved sustainability savings.

After the initial analysis that generates a detailed sustainability evaluation of their operations, Xerox partners with customers to create an energy-saving office environment. Some of the changes can be as simple as moving devices to different locations to replacing personal and single-function products with multifunction products, says Calkins. The calculator can also detect opportunities for customers to become smarter paper users and to reduce waste.

The sustainability calculator can provide information about a company's entire fleet of office products, including printers, copiers and multifunction devices, regardless of the equipment supplier. It can also inform customers about the impact of printing on two sides or using different types of papers.

'The goal for the Xerox Sustainability Calculator is to point customers in the right direction, to identify opportunities where the reduced impact to the environment can be balanced with boosting the bottom line,' says Calkins.

A scaled-down version of the calculator is available on Xerox's website at The quick Web-based assessment provides how-to tips and advice on smart ways to make offices greener.

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