A 14-year-old student came up with an ingenious idea to help his Pittsburgh-area middle school cut waste and save money. However, he soon realized that his idea could have a much more far-reaching impact.

(CNN)

(CNN)

Eventually, he was promising the federal government he could help them save nearly $400 million a year by simply changing fonts.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Suvir Mirchandani was determined to find ways to reduce the amount of ink used by his school. After all, he said, “ink is two times more expensive than French perfume by volume.”

That would become the focus of his science fair project — and it turned out to be more successful can he probably imagined.

CNN explains the process:

First, he charted how often each character was used in four different typefaces: Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. Then he measured how much ink was used for each letter, using a commercial tool called APFill® Ink Coverage Software.

Next he enlarged the letters, printed them and cut them out on cardstock paper to weigh them to verify his findings. He did three trials for each letter, graphing the ink usage for each font.

From this analysis, Suvir figured out that by using Garamond with its thinner strokes, his school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24%, and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually.

The teenager ended up sending his findings to the Journal for Emerging Investigators (JEI) on the advice from his teacher.

JEI co-founder Sarah Fankhauser said Suvir’s project really stood out from other submissions. Because they saw the potential in his work, JEI then asked him to calculate his findings on a larger scale to determine if the federal government could experience similar savings.

So he did — and he got very similar results.

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CNN

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CNN

“Using the General Services Administration’s estimated annual cost of ink — $467 million — Suvir concluded that if the federal government used Garamond exclusively it could save nearly 30% — or $136 million per year,” the report adds. “An additional $234 million could be saved annually if state governments also jumped on board, he reported.

That’s a total savings of $370 million.

Though Gary Somerset, of the Government Printing Office, admits the teen’s work is “remarkable,” he told CNN his office is currently more focused on switching to digital.

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