Gonzaga University (GU) is the 2019 Clean Air Award recipient for the exemplary work they are doing across their campus to improve energy efficiency, promote sustainability and reduce emissions, announced Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air) at a ceremony held last week.
Over the past decade, there has been a 23% increase in gross square footage (gsf) of the buildings that GU’s Plant Services manage. This is roughly 2.9 million gsf that requires lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation. Even with this growth, the University has seen an overall decrease in emissions by focusing on strategies to increase campus energy efficiency. According to Tomson Spink, GU’s Grounds and Facility Maintenance Manager, over the last 10 years the university’s overall consumption of natural gas dropped by 27 percent and electric consumption grew by 4 percent during this period of growth.
(Pictured to the right: Jim Simon, GU Director of Sustainability, Tomson Spink, GU Facilities Maintenance, Grounds and Fleet Manager, Julie Oliver, Spokane Clean Air Executive Director, Jim Angelosante, GU Vice President of Administration, Chris Ultican, GU Employee Transportation Coordinator)
There have been many steps undertaken to achieve these results, including the replacement of large, less efficient natural gas-fired boilers used for campus heating, with smaller and more efficient units. This alone has reduced total emissions of five air pollutants by 24% – or three tons annually. A few other examples include the requirement that all new building construction meet LEED Silver rating; lighting systems that use high efficiency LED fixtures, bulbs and tubes; and lighting controls that include dimming, daylighting, and vacancy sensing.
In the transportation arena, GU has been a leader as well. In addition to their robust Commute Trip Reduction program offered to students and faculty, they employ two shared mobility programs to further encourage the use of alternative commute options: Zipcar and more recently, Lime bikes.
Gonzaga University launched the ZipCar program in 2012 with two Zipcars. These vehicles allow commuters to run errands and make trips without requiring the purchase, maintenance and use of individual, personal vehicles. According to James Simon, GU’s Director of Sustainability, during the last academic year, ZipCars were used over a thousand times, covering more than 20,000 miles and cutting an estimated 478,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.
The campus recently piloted the Lime bikes program, beginning with a fleet of 50 bikes. During the 2-month pilot program, Gonzaga users took over 23,000 rides and logged more than 13,000 miles, according to Simon.
In 2015, GU launched the Universal Transit Access Pass, or UTAP, program. Last year, students and faculty rode STA buses more than 43,000 times. Each trip on a bus rather than in a car helps lessen road congestion and reduces emissions.
“To support those making decisions in their personal lives to combat greenhouse gas production, the University installed a set of ChargePoint stations on campus in 2016. These electric vehicle charging stations alleviate the “range-anxiety” often associated with e-vehicles, making them a more feasible alternative to traditional modes of transportation that rely on fossil fuels,” according to Simon. The ChargePoint stations have served 23 unique drivers since their installation.
“For all of these efforts and many more being undertaken, we are pleased to present Gonzaga University with the 2019 Clean Air Award,” announced Julie Oliver, Spokane Clean Air’s Executive Director, adding “Their leadership and their actions not only benefit the campus, but our community and the air that we all share.”