Anyone who utilized a Lime scooter even once during last year’s trial period has Gonzaga University’s Office of Sustainability to thank.
Its partnership with Spokane that launched the pilot program was one of many things the office accomplished throughout the past year.
With roughly 10 members on the team, the Office of Sustainability launched a series of leadership programs, partnered with the city of Spokane to bring us the Lime pilot program and competed and placed in the RecycleMania competition. The office managed to do all of this while proving to be a resource for student-led groups and projects around campus.
Two leadership programs were launched by the Office of Sustainability last year featuring students, staff and community members. In total, 17 students worked on five group projects and, eventually, three of the five groups applied for funding from the Green Fund to further those projects.
“Seventeen students exponentially impacted almost 10 times as many people,” said Jim Simon, director of the Office of Sustainability.
The impact did not end with these programs, as the office aided in the launching of the Lime pilot program.
Beginning in early September of last year and ending in mid-November, the program proved to be a success in terms of sustainability. By the end of the pilot, over 4,000 students and faculty members took over 12,000 rides on Lime scooters, which — according to Simon — added up to over 9,000 miles.
“While a lot of those rides were recreational, that still means that a lot of staff and students were not driving a car from point A to point B,” Simon said.
Now, almost a year later, the bikes and scooters have returned to Spokane for good following the success of the program.
The Office of Sustainability also competed in the nationwide RecycleMania competition and placed in two categories. In the diversion category they placed fifth in Washington and 66th nationwide. In the per capita category, they placed second in Washington and 84th in the U.S.
According to the RecycleMania website, the competition saw 69.5 million pounds of waste recycled and composted and prevented the release of 99,254 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to preventing the annual emissions from 20,895 cars.
The impact of the Office of Sustainability extends further than the environment, as they prove to be a useful resource for students and groups around campus.
The former President of the Gonzaga Environmental Organization, JJ Doria, spoke highly of the office and its part in an ongoing “roadmap” project organized by a committee known as the Gonzaga Renewable Investment Group (GRIG).
“The roadmap is a compilation of how solar could be installed on campus,” Doria said.
GRIG was able to install solar panels on the roof of the Office of Sustainability through funding from alumni and the GRIG student's friends of GU.
According to Doria, this preview on the office is incredibly important to the future success of the program, as they can now predict the amount of solar that can be produced from the panels.
“We wouldn’t be able to do anything we are doing now without their support,” he said.
The impact of the office can be seen on a personal level as well.
“What they’ve provided for me is just amazing,” Doria said. “If they hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today with my understanding of what sustainability means.”
According to Simon, there are many views of what sustainability means. His favorite comes down to simply, “enough for all, forever.”
This view comes into play when connecting with the rest of campus.
“Ultimately, we want to make sure that we are making a campuswide narrative,” Simon said.
This is why the Office of Sustainability strives to be there for the organization of student efforts. They connect with groups for maximum impact and provide a space for groups to meet or individuals to study.
“Students can stop by anytime and reach out to us on our website,” Simon said. “We are always here to be a resource.”