Many businesses want to jump on the green IT bandwagon, but don't know where to start. A new software calculator can suggest how offices can reduce the environmental impact of printers, copiers and other devices.

Xerox says its "Sustainability Calculator" uses proprietary algorithms and document assessment research to suggest ways to reduce energy and paper consumption from office devices regardless of manufacturer.

On Tuesday Xerox showed off a scaled-down, web-based version of the calculator.

The calculator has input fields to describe a printer or other office device, noting the kind of cartridges used, if the device is colour or mono, how fast it produces pages, how many of those pages are printed per month and whether the device uses the Energy Star power-saving guidelines.

A second set of fields asks how an office manager would like to see the machines perform. The calculator then shows bar graphs covering energy consumption, greenhouse gases and the solid waste produced, from empty ink cartridges through to retiring the machine.

The more advanced version of the calculator will offer suggestions based on usage patterns, Xerox said.

Data cited by Xerox from one company using the calculator suggests an over-abundance of office printers and copiers.

Defence manufacturer Northrop Grumman dropped the number of printers and copiers in one of its divisions to 1,100 from 2,000 after using the tool, Xerox said. Subsequently, energy consumption fell 27 percent, greenhouse gases by 26 percent and solid waste by 33 percent.

The Sustainability Calculator will be offered through Xerox Office Services, the company's consulting arm. No pricing information was available.