Consistent Sustainability Work Sees Gonzaga Rise to No. 8 on “Green Colleges” List

Two male students walk along Bulldog Alley and an electric scooter sits nearby
Gonzaga is in the Top 10 of Princeton Review's "Green Colleges"

December 12, 2023
Gonzaga University News Service

When it comes to sustainability, the Gonzaga community’s efforts to make campus more environmentally friendly are constantly evolving to address new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities.

The most visible example of the school’s commitment might have been the establishment of the Office of Sustainability nearly a decade ago. But Jim Simon, the office’s director, is quick to note that the university’s mission statement “has the pillars of sustainability right in it.”

“We are called to care for the planet and steward the human, financial and ecological gifts that we have,” Simon says. “That drives much of the big and small things that we do.”

Those big and small things add up to a lot of positive changes on campus, and that is recognized in Princeton Review’s 2024 “Guide to Green Colleges,” which ranks Gonzaga at No. 8 among its list of the country’s “Top 50 Green Colleges.” In 2023, Gonzaga was ranked at No 32.

The Princeton Review “Guide to Green Colleges” is based primarily on surveys of administrators and students at 683 colleges. You can see the list of the Top 50 Green Colleges here.

Simon notes that Gonzaga’s campus has seen considerable progress in waste reduction through its recycling and composting programs. And efforts to get commuting students, faculty and staff out of their cars and onto bicycles and public transportation have paid off as well, getting a boost from the addition of the Spokane Transit City Line electric rapid-transit bus that started serving campus in the summer of 2023.

“Since the start of the fall 2024 semester, ridership is already up more than 50 percent over the average of the past nine years!” Simon notes. “It’s been great to see GU students on the City Line nearly every time I’ve taken it.”

Princeton Review notes that the schools in its “Top 50 Green Colleges” share commitments to using energy from clean and renewable sources and to diverting waste from incinerators or solid-waste landfills, offer sustainability-focused undergraduate degrees or majors, and have sustainability officers. The company started publishing its “Guide to Green Colleges” in 2010 in recognition of an increase in college applicants wanting to attend schools that foster a culture of environmental accountability.

“With increasing concern about climate change, particularly among younger people who will be most affected by its long-term impact, we are seeing increasing interest among college applicants in attending green colleges,” said Princeton Review Editor-In-Chief Rob Franek in announcing this year’s guide.

Simon has noticed that trend.

“Students are looking at how colleges and universities do (or don’t) integrate sustainability into their operations, activities and curriculum,” Simon says. “At Gonzaga, that’s something we’re doing more and more of, and I think it’s being noticed by students that want to spend their college years at a place that shares their values.”

For students who join GU next year, they’ll find a community continuing its work to fulfill its mission to care for the planet. And they’ll find the Office of Sustainability celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2024 with renewed enthusiasm and an updated campus Climate Action Plan.

“I am excited to engage our entire community in this work and move from the aspirations of our first Climate Action Plan and towards measurable and meaningful action with the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan we will create this year,” Simon says. “This plan will set up what the next three to five years looks like for our institutional investments and activities around sustainability.”

Learn about work to make Gonzaga environmentally friendly