APTA | Passenger Transport
August 3, 2009

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SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES

Paratransit Inc.: A Green Good Neighbor in Sacramento
BY BETH BARKER-HIDALGO, Supervisor of Compliance & Facilities, Paratransit Inc., Sacramento, CA

Mary Steinert, deputy executive director of Paratransit Inc., has been a champion of environmentally friendly programs and activities throughout the organization’s history. She has encouraged and fostered an approach to business that promotes thoughtful consideration for the environment when processes or programs are implemented.

As a result of Steinert’s guidance and vision, Paratransit Inc. has gained a reputation in the Sacramento community as an example of best management practices related to program implementation and environmental risk management.

Paratransit Inc. has received numerous awards for its environmental awareness since 2002, beginning with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star Award for the energy-saving components planned and implemented during construction of its new facility. A primary reason for this honor is the environmentally aware lighting in the facility, both new and retrofitted to meet or exceed Title 24 standards for energy efficiency at the time of construction.

T5 lighting fixtures in the agency’s fleet maintenance facility use 50 percent less energy and provide 30 percent more light than standard fixtures. The remainder of the 44,000-square-foot uses T8 lighting.

Another contributing factor is energy-efficient economizers on all 16 HVAC units, combined with a regular preventative maintenance schedule, which help to keep heating and ventilation costs at a minimum and unit efficiency at a maximum.

In 2005, Paratransit Inc. received the Pollution Prevention P2 award from Sacramento County’s Business Environmental Resource Center. It subsequently received the award each year nominated, through 2008, in recognition of its achievements in sustainability.

In May of 2005, the organization went online with an 80kW grid-tied Unisolar, photovoltaic solar system that generates up to 20 percent of the facility’s monthly electrical usage. Paratransit Inc. installed the system in conjunction with a Sarnifil cool roof system that also contributes to the reduction in overall cooling costs for the facility.

Paratransit Inc. frequently appears on EPA’s Best Workplaces for Commuters list in recognition of its aggressive employee transportation coordination effort to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled among its employees. For example, this program encourages employees to bicycle to work by providing the tools necessary to support alternative modes of commute, such as bike lockers, showers, and personal lockers.

The organization is a member of the Sacramento Transportation Management Association (TMA), which offers employees access to its Guaranteed Ride Home program for users of public transit, carpools, or other alternative modes of transportation to and from work. Paratransit Inc. also provides its employees with full reimbursement for public transit monthly passes.

Other green efforts include providing filtered water through an ice machine and three refrigerators, so employees need not carry water in disposable plastic bottles, and reducing paper use in the fleet maintenance department by introducing software products that allow vehicle operators, mechanics, service writers, parts clerks, and supervisors to perform many required tasks on the computer.

When Paratransit Inc. was considering stormwater management and compliance as a fleet maintenance facility, it became a test site for a new and innovative device that slows the flow of water through a series of baffles and filters. The storm vault, 16 by 60 feet in size and located underneath the bus parking lot, allows oils and sediment to settle and/or collect in the vault, mitigating the pollutant runoff from the facility site into nearby Morrison Creek. A hazardous waste management contractor pumps out the collected sediment and oils on average every five years.

Paratransit Inc. has historically focused on reducing its negative impact on the environment as a result of doing business, and makes every effort to mitigate those impacts whenever possible. The company plans to continue on its path of environmental stewardship as it strives to provide the best services for the communities it serves.

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