PrintGreen implemented, though not without issue

We’ve all had a time when we have printed a bunch of papers. Maybe you were organizing a large party, or maybe you needed to print several papers for a class. Regardless, it’s a small amount considering the number of pages printed by students at the University of Puget Sound over a semester. Since the introduction of print tracking at the University in August of 2011, Technology Services has seen students average over 400 prints during one semester,  with occasional spikes of over 5,000 pages.

Excessive printing can be a waste of paper and electricity, but students still need to be able to print papers for their classes and to have access to a system able to copy information in these large amounts. Something needed to be done to monitor and help control the amount of printing done on campus.

The response was PrintGreen, a new service implemented in the fall of 2012 by the Library, Media and Information Systems committee (LMIS). A meter is displayed on the screen with the allotted 750 credits per student, per semester. Each page side printed takes off one credit from the account. For instance, a double-sided page would remove two credits. After all credits are exhausted, students will pay 10 cents per side printed.

Paying for printing has not been implemented before the PrintGreen program, but “PrintGreen is not designed to be, and is not, a profit-making enterprise. With a quota of 750 prints, the vast majority of students will never reach their limit, and thus will not be paying anything for their printing,” Cindy Riche, Director of Client Support & Educational Technology Services at Puget Sound, said.

“Faculty and many students have been supportive of the idea of encouraging responsible printing, with the goal of lessening our impact on the environment as part of our larger sustainability efforts at the University,” Riche said.

Some might argue that, if few students will reach the limit, the number of credits given to each student could be seen as superfluous. However, the meter displaying the remaining credits is not designed to create a barrier for students on the amount of pages they are able to print.

“I think it promotes a sense of awareness about our usage and consumption of resources and materials. You have to be aware of how much you’re using, how much you’re printing,” Megan Lundquist, a member of Technology Services, said. “I also think professors become more aware of how much they make you read.”

With every piece of technology, however, there are always technological issues, and PrintGreen has had its share of mishaps. One of the major issues, according to Riche, has been “the interaction with the software client used to give students a count of their remaining print credit on-screen as they are printing each job and the profile that each user has within the system.”

“I’ve printed a few pages, and it would not print but it would charge my account,” Anela Zekiri, a worker from Access Services, said. “It would do that to several students who would come up and complain about it.” Zekiri noted that this issue occurred “all the time.”

“The system is on hold temporarily while we address the technical issue,” Riche said. “Because we wanted to minimize the impact of these technical issues on students, we have “turned off” counting of student prints.  We have fixed the problem and are testing it now, with the goal to start counting prints again starting on Oct. 1, at which point we will re-set everyone’s quota back to the full amount.”

Resetting the credits on all accounts will not only help to refresh the system and its malfunctions, but will also be beneficial to the students who had their meters corrupted by the program’s previous issues.

Having tracked the issues and worked out the bugs, by the time PrintGreen is in full effect, it is hoped that it will be fully functional and able to help students reduce their consumption and encourage environmentally beneficial decisions.

Riche said, “PrintGreen is intended to encourage responsible printing, and to allow everyone to track their own printing to better inform their personal choices.”