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UI works on ‘smart’ printing

BY MITCHELL SCHMIDT | APRIL 29, 2010 7:30 AM

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University of Iowa senior Chelsea Soderblom has printed class notes and assignments twice a week for four years.

Since December 2007, her printing has used just more than 2 percent of a tree, 15.9 kilograms of carbon dioxide, and energy equivalent to running a 60-watt bulb for 369.6 hours.

And that’s just on campus.

Soderblom said she can still recall the first time she noticed her effect on the environment.

“I thought, ‘That’s a lot,’ ” the English major said she thought when she saw her printing statistics.

While Soderblom will graduate in mere weeks, UI Information Technology Services officials are continuing to look for ways to ensure smart printing.

Printing costs students 5 cents per page for black-and-white copies, but only $0.004 of that price is for the paper itself. The majority of the charge pays for such supplies as toner and ink.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay recently cut printing costs by 30 percent after swapping out Arial Black — the original university e-mail font — for Century Gothic. The new font’s thinner letters use less ink, said Diane Blohowiak, the university’s CIT user support coordinator.

The idea of a font change stemmed from Mathew Dornbush, a biology professor at the university, who read a National Geographic article detailing Eco Fonts. Dornbush presented the idea to Blohowiak; the font change took place last month.

“I’d say its been received quite well,” Dornbush said. “People are pretty excited about it.”

While Eco Font — a font style that is perforated with holes in the letters — has been on UI officials’ radar for a few years, they aren’t fully convinced.

While the font boasts less ink use, Chris Clark, the manager of learning spaces and technology, said he feels it’s not the best choice for printing.

“The Eco Font stuff — it looks good, but it costs some money,” he said. “It didn’t look great in terms of deployment, in terms of actually getting it working on computers reliably.”

Officials have also considered simply changing font styles, as the Wisconsin-Green Bay did.

The UI’s default font is Calibri. Kirk Baruth, ITS communications specialist, said if the UI switched to Century Gothic, the wider font would make for more pages and offset any savings.

At Wisconsin, the desired effect required a two-part strategy — font and size.

“You have to reduce the default font size, too,” Dornbush noted.

Blohowiak said Century Gothic takes up a bit more page space, but thinks the choice was appropriate.

“We felt it was worth the change,” she said, noting that the Green Bay campus of roughly 6,500 students spends around $100,000 on toner cartridges annually.

Clark said some recent changes to UI printing pre-sets, including two-sided printing and ITC release stations, have cut down on printing costs and have seen “the biggest bang in terms of reducing campus printing.”

Sitting in the Main Library, Soderblom typed one of her last assignments as a UI student.

The 22-year-old recalled when the default setting changed to duplex printing — something she had been voluntarily selecting prior to the change.

“I’m glad they did it,” she said. “I actually had to manually do it before.”


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