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GEM® News & Updates


Northwestern University Testimonial – A Mission of Zero Emissions

A Mission of Zero Emissions

There’s a transportation revolution taking place at worldrenowned Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. It started in 2009 when Northwestern—in keeping with its commitment to sustainability—challenged facilities leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030.


Northwestern’s facilities operations accepted and met that challenge. And today, among the bustle of more than 20,000 students, they use a fleet of 10 Polaris® GEM® electric vehicles to traverse the university’s 240-acre campus while quietly and sustainably maintaining this pristine campus.

Zero Emissions

Northwestern’s commitment to sustainability spurred them to look at replacing a number of gas-powered machines with GEM vehicles beginning in 2015. After starting with a small fleet of four, the university now is up to a fleet of 10.


“Gas savings was a contributing factor, but decreasing greenhouse gas emissions was the real reason for moving to electric vehicles.” — Samantha Kustra, Procurement Analyst, Northwestern University.

Street Legal

The go-anywhere combination of street legal and “off-road” capability were key factors in Kustra’s choice to go with GEM electric vehicles. The ability to drive on roads or across turf and other terrain offers flexibility not found in golf carts and other options.


“When we initially started looking into electric utility vehicles, two of the major requirements were that they be street legal, but also that they could be driven on lawns. GEM gives us a zero-emissions, street-legal vehicle that allows our staff to get anywhere on campus,” says Kustra.

Comfort and Safety

Bordering Lake Michigan north of Chicago, the climate at Northwestern ranges from hot summer days to subzero winter nights. Frequent travel across campus at all hours and in any weather makes automobile-like features such as an enclosed climate-controlled cabin, defrost, seat belts and exterior lighting highly desirable.


“Our employees have had positive reactions to the power steering, roomier cab and cargo space. It’s logical that the more comfortable a driver is the safer the journey, too. GEM® is easy to get in and out of, and can carry all kinds of equipment and people anywhere we need to go,” says Kustra.

Customizable Style

As Northwestern’s GEM® fleet moves around campus, each vehicle—featuring bold decals and a custom paint job in school colors—symbolizes the university’s commitment to sustainability. What’s more, customizable utility and storage features were configured to meet the university’s unique needs.


Polaris® GEM® electric vehicles are helping Northwestern University achieve their sustainability goals. Explore to continue to learn how GEM can help your school run leaner and greener, too.