Paperless Campus Initiative

St. Edward's University

Date Created: June 22, 2012
Date Posted: June 22, 2012
Sustainability Topic: Purchasing
Content Type: Case Studies

Project Overview

In recent years, St. Edward's University has undertaken several paperless initiatives. That which has most directly impacted the entire university community (students, faculty and staff) was spearheaded by Human Resources and the Business Office. These departments have implemented paperless checks, replaced paystubs with email notifications, converted paper timesheets with online timekeeping, and replaced all employee related paper work with online forms and processes, saving 96,000 sheets of paper annually. These changes enable everyone on campus to play an active part in sustainable solutions, every day.


This project originated out of the university's Strategic Plan 2015, which calls for the stewardship of resources through risk assessment, net revenue management, reallocation and cost savings. While improving internal efficiencies and processes, it is also an outgrowth of conscious efforts to become a more sustainable institution.


-Decrease amount of time to process / complete work

-Decrease duplication of effort

-Decrease possibility of errors made through duplication

-Decrease cost to produce outcomes

-Decrease purchase of supplies such as paper and envelopes


The paperless initiative at St. Edward's University is a campus-wide collaboration across many departments. Human Resources / Business Office process redesign, for instance, was developed with the assistance of our Information Technology department.


September 2010 - January 2011: Identify automation and paperless opportunities

October 2010 - February 2011: Identify, qualify and select vendors

November 2010 - March 2011: Prepare detailed transition plans

February 2011 - June 2011: Communicate with all affected university groups

March 2011 - May 2011: Install and test systems

June 2011 - November 2011: Finalize execution of plans


Upfront costs:

Timekeeping system software: $22,000 (one-time expense)

Pay cards $1.00 per card to setup: $100 (for 100 cards)


Timekeeping system software: $1,000 per month


Projects were financed through operating cash flow.


When Human Resources and the Business Office went green:

-$7,900 annual supply expense dollars were saved, including saving 96,000 annual sheets of paper

-450 annual labor hours in the Business and HR offices were saved; and approximately 4,000 annual hours of reduced administrative time across the university

Lessons Learned

This project heightened awareness of the inseparable and positive relationship between saving paper, time and money. This was learned through the following accomplishments achieved by Human Resources and the Business Office:

-Decreased time to process / complete work

-Decreased duplication of effort

-Decreased possibility of errors made through duplication

-Decreased cost to produce outcomes (labor hours)

-Decreased purchase of supplies such as paper, ink, envelopes, folders, and

-Decreased physical storage needs

This success of this project prompted other university departments to go greener. Following are three examples.

One, the Marketing Office began to implement paper-saving practices in the fall of 2011. Email and social media campaigns are created with online content to supplement or replace paper collateral. Where printing is necessary, a carbon-neutral paper is used. In 2010, this practice was equivalent to taking 6 cars off the road for one year and planting 4,849 trees. Each year, using this paper also:

-Saves 264,262 gallons of wastewater flow

-Prevents the creation of 29,239 lbs. of solid waste

-Prevents the generation of 57,570 lbs. net of greenhouse gases.

-Conserves440,652,240 BTUs of energy

And because the paper is manufactured with wind power and carbon offsets, 71,282 lbs. ghg emissions are prevented and 76 barrels of fuel oil are saved.

Two, the Faculty Staff Campaign — implemented by the Advancement Office — went paperless in April 2012. This annual fundraising effort now saves labor over three different departments and 3,000 pieces of paper annually.

Three, the Student Financial Services department has recently completed a project to go paperless on student refund checks. This will eliminate the need to prepare and distribute over 7,000 paper checks annually.


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