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Environmental Sustainability Program Saves Money

Duplex Printing / Reducing Office Paper Waste

  • An informal survey by Arnold & Porter of eight law firms, ranging in size from small to large, showed they used 20,000 to 100,000 sheets of paper per attorney in 2006. ABA Law Office Climate Challenge, Waste Wise Program.
  • Duplex printing can cut down 30-35% of office paper use. For law practices using 2000 reams of paper (a ream contains 500 sheets of paper) per month, potential savings could range from $40,000 to $60,000 per year. Green Guide for Lawyers, Meritas.

Compact fluorescent Lights (CFLs)

Energy Consumption

  • Energy costs represent about 30% of a typical office building’s costs. If a law office rents a 20,000-square-foot space and pays $2 per square foot for energy, a 30% reduction can add up to $60,000 over a five-year lease. Law Office Guide to Energy Efficiency, ABA.
  • In a typical 200-person office, using equipment with Energy Star features yielded annual cost savings of approximately $30,000 and 190 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Green Guide for Lawyers, Meritas.
  • On average, a Dell desktop computer requires 85 watts of electricity just to idle, even with the monitor off. If that computer is only in use or idling for 40 hours a week instead of a full 168, over $40 in energy costs will be saved annually from that workstation alone. University of Michigan Energy Management.

The comparison between paper and electronic document storage is downright astounding!

  • A case of paper (5,000 sheets), once released from its tidy packaging and placed in file folders, will fill one drawer of a standard vertical file cabinet.
  • Each page, as a scanned image, takes up about 50 kilobytes of digital space.
  • That means those 5,000 pages—or one file cabinet drawer—takes up
    approximately 250 megabytes of digital space. A four-drawer file cabinet (or 20,000 pages) needs 1 gigabyte of digital space.
  • A one-terabyte hard disk drive (the equivalent of 1,000 gigabytes or 1,000 four-drawer filing cabinets) costs less than $100.

[Source: David L. Masters, Electronic Client Files, The Colorado Lawyer, vol. 41, n. 2 (Feb. 2012).]


Resources to Get You Started