Xerox's simple list of green-tech tips: Focused on my favorite vice, paper

You may have read a little bit yesterday about a new service from Xerox, one centered on its new Sustainability Calculator. Well, I resisted the urge to link to those items because I actually spent some time this morning with Patricia Calkins, Xerox vice president of Environment, Health and Safety, to get a little bit more detail about the project.

You may have read a little bit yesterday about a new service from Xerox, one centered on its new Sustainability Calculator. Well, I resisted the urge to link to those items because I actually spent some time this morning with Patricia Calkins, Xerox vice president of Environment, Health and Safety, to get a little bit more detail about the project.

First a bit of background, as far as the high-tech companies go, Xerox has a long history in efforts related to sustainability and the environment. You may not know, for example, that Xerox was a pioneer in double-sided printing back in 1969, according to Calkins. Or that Xerox was an early dabbler in remanufacturing: embracing the notion early that components of one piece of office equipment might indeed be reincarnated in another product somewhere along the line. Or that, more recently, it has come up with a special High Yield Business paper that uses 90 percent of a given tree vs. 45 percent of a tree. The paper is also lighter in weight, which cuts down on transportation costs (i.e., gasoline). (The company's latest report on Global Citizenship is printed on this paper.) You can find Calkins' white paper called "Smarter Ways to Green" at this link.

The Sustainability Calculator, as you might imagine, is a tool for evaluating a company's printers, copiers and multifunction devices and providing insights about how that fleet might affect energy use, paper consumption, greenhouse emissions, water quality and even, solid waste considerations. The tool is being used by the Xerox Office Services' team for lifecycle assessments, although you can fiddle with the free version on their Web site. By the way, the calculator can measure non-Xerox products from the company's competitors, including Hewlett-Packard, Ricoh and Canon. You can even use it predictively, to test the impact of adding new equipment or simply using existing technology more productively, according to Calkins.

In her white paper, Xerox's sustainability expert offers two great tip lists, which I'll offer in summary here. (But you really should look at the whole paper.)

The first list is a high-level of her thoughts around what it takes to build a meaningful corporate sustainability effort. These are the exact titles of some of the subsections in her paper. 1. Explore the entire value chain of your business. 2. Use disciplined, quantitative analysis to identify your best opportunities. 3. Make sure the proposed improvement or innovation will deliver both economic and environmental benefits. 4. Look for easy wins that will deliver a fast payback. 5. Think partnerships. (This one deserves a bit of amplification and pertains to letting other organizations help your own company achieve its sustainability goals.) 6. Be innovative. 7. Win people over with your passion, energy and inspiring determination.

And, here are some of Calkins' "Easy Win" tips for greening your office: - Encourage double-sided printing and copying. (CHECK) - Move to workgroup printing, instead of managing individual desktop printers, copiers and scanners. (SORRY, IT'S JUST ME) - Use "scan to e-mail" features more regularly. (I REFRAIN FROM PRINTING EMAIL, MORE OFTEN) - Switch to solid ink if possible, as it can reduce waste up to 90 percent. (HMMM) - Look for paper with certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, which acknowledges that the paper doesn't affect any endangered forests. (WORKING)