By Michelle Senatore, Sustainability Coordinator
Let’s ring in the New Year by reflecting on some of our “green” achievements over the past year. Here are the District Sustainability Program Top 6 highlights for 2016:
- Reduced the District’s carbon footprint by using cleaner electricity. The District is participating in three Community Choice Energy programs launching this year and next: CleanPowerSF, Peninsula Clean Energy, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy. These programs provide District facilities with electricity from more renewable sources like solar, wind, geothermal, and small hydropower – all while delivered on the same utility poles and wires. At no additional cost, SamTrans’ power will be 20% more renewable and Caltrain’s power will be nearly 10% less carbon-intensive, making our transit services even more sustainable. Depending on where you live, your residential electricity meter may be automatically enrolled in these programs too – check out their websites for more information.
- Initiated LED lighting upgrades that will save energy while reducing operational and maintenance costs. LEDs are 80% more efficient than the lights they will replace at the Bases, and require less maintenance. In addition, the District will defray some of the capital costs through an energy efficiency rebate partnership with PG&E and San Mateo County Energy Watch.
- Improved waste management practices. In 2015 the District introduced composting service and upgraded waste bins and signage at Central, and in 2016 we rolled the program out to the Bases and Brewster. Overall this initiative reduced SamTrans’ landfill waste by 30%, equivalent to the amount of waste produced by 200 California households. For reminders on what goes in the compost, recycle, and landfill/trash bins, check out the updated SamTrans Waste Sorting Training Manual prepared by our own Marketing and Creative Services department.
- Conserved 40% more water compared to the state drought baseline year of 2013, through water conservation efforts in fleet, facilities, and station maintenance.
- Continued the District’s partnership with Sea Change San Mateo County to assess sea level rise vulnerabilities and adaptation options for key District facilities as well as the region.
- Launched the Bay Area Transportation and Sustainability Working Group in partnership with SFMTA, VTA, BART, AC Transit, and WETA to share best practices and support each other in sustainability efforts. The District, VTA, and SFMTA took this collaboration to the next level with a joint presentation on water conservation at the 2016 APTA Sustainability Conference.
And of course, the District’s ongoing work towards Caltrain Electrification and a SamTrans electric bus fleet will deliver more sustainable transportation options to the communities we serve.
Many of these efforts are ongoing and there are more in the pipeline – sustainability is about continuous improvement and thoughtful collaboration between all our departments. Thank you for your support of the District’s sustainability initiatives. And many thanks in particular to the dedicated Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations teams who ensured the success of these projects this year.