UW News

March 3, 2005

Publication Services: An eye on sustainable practices

UW News

Sustainability practices are not exclusive to the UW’s Publications Services Department — they are campuswide, indeed statewide and beyond. But Pub Services, as is it called for short, is a good example of a unit using several sustainable practices and always looking for more.

And folks there want to remind clients that they, too, have options that help sustainability and lessen the environmental impact of various projects.

“A lot of this is the education and repackaging process,” said Eric Mosher, director of Publication Services, of the department’s recent effort to make its sustainable practices more well-known — which includes a statement on the department’s Web site, at www.pubserv.washington.edu.

“These are options that have been available for some time; we are just placing increased emphasis on making people aware of what their choices are, and that they can be environmentally friendly.”

What is sustainability? Briefly put, it means using resources without using them up, so that future generations get to share the bounty, too.

Sustainability became the state’s official business in 2001, when then-Gov. Gary Locke mandated a 10 percent reduction in energy consumption, and again in 2003 when the governor signed Executive Order 02-03, requiring state agencies to employ sustainable practices. The UW is not a state agency as such, but President Mark Emmert has made clear the University’s ongoing commitment to sustainable practices, in research as well as the maintenance of facilities and resources.

Mosher and others at Pub Services suggest that would-be clients consider several ideas as they create their next printing job:

  • Use recycled paper with high amounts of post-consumer recycled fiber. This requires less energy, and reduces water pollution.
  • Print on both sides of the paper, which saves paper; and consider using wider margins or smaller fonts to get more information on each page.
  • Make your project a self-mailer or postcard in circumstances when an envelope isn’t necessary. Pub Services’ Mail Prep will print addresses directly on the piece rather than on a label, saving resources and money.

Mosher and others at Publication Services say they plan more advances in the future, too. These include switching all UW business papers to 100 percent recycled stock, entering contracts to make the latest environmentally friendly products available and affordable and promoting — as they are doing now — environmentally friendly alternatives for their print jobs.

But pursuing environmental friendliness is nothing new at Publications Services. The department also boasts a long list of sustainable practices adopted over recent years. These include:

  • Using vegetable-based rather than petroleum-based inks, which reduced air emissions and hazardous waste.
  • Reducing by half the amount of alcohol in printing press solutions, to reduce volatile organic compound emissions.
  • Using “computer-to-plate” technology with some printing presses, eliminating the need for film negatives and other printing plate-making materials by producing plates directly from digital files.
  • Mailing proofs to clients as PDF files, eliminating the need for printed proofs.
  • Offering electronic requisition forms and Internet applications, reducing the need both for paper and motor vehicle transportation.

If you have questions about publication projects, check with your Publications Coordinator. More information also is available on the Publications Services Web site (see above.)

For the UW’s campuswide “Focus on Environmental Sustainability” report, detailing work in this area being done across the campus, visit online at http://www.washington.edu/admin/facserv/, and click on “Environmental Sustainability” at the left. Publications Services can be reached by phone at 206-543-5680.