August 3, 2009
In this weeks Classifieds, you'll find:
6 DBE opportunities
Hampton Roads: Out in Front with Sustainable Solutions
BY SCOTT DEMHARTER, Director of Energy Management and Sustainability, Hampton Roads Transit, Hampton, VA
When Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) became one of the first public transportation agencies in the nation to sign on to APTA’s Sustainability Commitment, in January 2009, it would have been easy to see it as its first step toward a more socially responsible and environmentally friendly future. However, this medium-sized transit agency in southeastern Virginia already had begun working toward sustainability principles.
HRT reflects its commitment to sustainability throughout the organization, from incorporating sustainable ideas as part of its strategic objectives to identifying someone within the organization to champion those ideas. HRT even had established an outreach program and was beginning to monitor numerous environmental indicators.
Prior to the introduction of APTA’s Sustainability Commitment, HRT leadership had committed to developing and implementing an agency-wide, ISO 14001-based Environmental Management System (EMS) and sustainability program. This effort became branded in the logo “HRT CARES,” which stands for Creating Accessible Regional Sustainability. Its purpose is to directly link sustainability with HRT’s mission: “To serve the community through high quality, safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly regional transportation services.”
The agency kicked off EMS development in Summer 2008 with the drafting of an environmental policy and creation of specific objectives and new standard operating procedures for pollution prevention, climate protection, and energy conservation. These procedures, now standard, affect the monitoring of underground storage tanks, hazardous materials spill response, bus idling, preventative vehicle maintenance, energy/electricity management, facility lighting replacement, and HVAC settings and control.
As part of the ISO 14001 certification process, all HRT employees will eventually be trained and held accountable for complying with EMS policies and procedures as part of their job responsibilities.
HRT has also established an internal “Go Green” campaign that features initiatives for turning off lights and computers (Switch Green); using reusable drinking containers (Drink Green); printing double-sided and only when necessary (Print Green); and recycling (Pitch Green).
HRT uses clean, ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel in all its standard buses, and employs a fleet of 24 hybrid diesel-electric buses for its city shuttle services. It also operates the “TRAFFIX” Program, which promotes sustainability through transportation alternatives, such as express buses and vanpools, to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road.
In addition, two current HRT construction projects further stress the agency’s commitment to environmental management and sustainability. The new, 130,000-square-foot Maintenance and Administration Facility—scheduled for occupancy in early 2011—has been designed to achieve a LEED Gold rating, with such sustainable features as a rainwater harvesting system, water-efficient landscaping, indoor day lighting, and onsite renewable energy.
The other green construction project is The Tide, Virginia’s first light rail line, which should begin boarding next year. Once completed, The Tide will extend 7.4 miles across the city of Norfolk. Local planners now envision the line as the first in a regional system for Hampton Roads and beyond. This project is being considered as a model for sustainability in the region—creating jobs, attracting businesses, reducing traffic congestion, supporting transit-oriented development, increasing property values, and improving the impact of transportation on the environment.