Sustainability Hero: Jim Simon, creative student engagement

August 22, 2017

Energy, Sustainability, and Facilities Heroes are the people who work tirelessly each day to help curb energy use to reduce carbon impact on the environment and increase their organization's savings. In this series, we highlight different Heroes to both inspire you and impart useful best practices.

Who is Jim?

Jim is the Director of Sustainability for Gonzaga University, where he is able to put his appreciation for the natural world to work. He helps the university save money through efficient energy strategies but also puts sustainability efforts into place that reach beyond university borders, which he hopes will help the environment for years to come.

What’s his sustainability story?

Jim focuses his sustainability efforts on people - both staff and students. He uses BuildingOS data to help building and energy managers operate facilities more efficiently, and he leads sustainability programs for students to get involved in as well.

He recently lead a very successful 3-week energy reduction competition as part of Lucid’s 2017 Campus Conservation Nationals. He was able to rise above the noise of advertising and other communications on campus by tying the competition into what makes Gonzaga 'tick' - basketball. His team got creative and created memes, cardboard cutouts, posters, and t-shirts to promote the competition at basketball games and across campus. The 77 buildings that participated collectively saved over $20,000 and reduced their consumption by more than 15%.

As Jim says, “Sustainability is not about one person, it's about creating a culture that anyone can be a part of.” He does this at Gonzaga by inviting involvement from students, faculty and the outside community. He holds open door monthly meetings with faculty and students so they can contribute ideas to efforts, and encourages everyone to take their sustainability mindset out into the broader community through volunteer efforts.

What’s Jim’s inspiration?

Jim has always had great appreciation and respect for nature, and has extended that to his role at Gonzaga. Jim built a sustainability mission that he calls CREATE which stands for Care for creation, Reflection, Action, Teaching and Engagement. All of his direct efforts support this vision for caring for the campus in a way that is respectful of the planet.

Jim and other sustainability heroes are transforming sustainability for their organizations. If you know someone who should be an Energy, Sustainability, or Facilities Hero or want to share your own story, contact us at

More Heroes:

Martha Larson, Carleton College

Ruby Tavernier, American University

Anna Klovstad, Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District