A big part of the difference in using the new products is using the correct dilution rate, he stresses. “When you use the proper dilution, the chemistry of the product depends on that.” Too much or too little product can break down the effectiveness. When cleaning floors, using a floor scrubber that vacuums up the waste is another way in protecting the environment. “In the facilities and out on the platforms, we used to use a pressure washer. Now we’re not hosing dirt and water into the storm sewers.
“We send very little hazardous waste out, something like less than 50 pounds per year,” Bryant mentions. “We even won an award for it from the Oregon DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality.]”
Bryant attributes TriMet’s success thus far to developing measurable standards and keeping current on products in the marketplace that contribute toward sustainability. As for the future, two of the challenges they are focusing on, he says, are water use and the ability to measure explicitly.
Defining measurable goals
As the first LEED-certified transit facility in the United States, the Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid) in Grand Rapids, Mich., employs green practices throughout its agency. One of the things that has benefited not only the maintenance department, but the entire facility, was an energy audit.
Jennifer Kalczuk, Manager, Communications and External Relations at The Rapid, says, “We did a study with Grand Valley State University in the area on energy usage in the building and based on that energy audit, laid out the plan of things that we were going to do.
“It looked at the operations and really identified some areas where we could do things more efficiently, kind of having that holistic look at the system.” She adds, “There are things that we’ve been doing all along, but to get that kind of perspective has been really helpful.”
There were many things it found with the audit, which saved energy and improved efficiency, including the installation of high-speed doors in the garage, timers and occupancy sensors.
The Rapid’s CEO Peter Varga provides detailed information about the technologies it used and the benefits to the agency in this issue’s Manager’s Forum column.
Linda Robson, spokesperson for Sound Transit, points out that at Sound Transit, they try not to think about going green in terms of simply green elements. Sound Transit expects the announcement in the next month or so that it will be ISO [International Organization for Standardization) certified. “We have an Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) that is designed to the rigorous ISO 14001 series international standard for environmental management.” With only a handful of other public transit agencies having this certification, it’s no small order.
ISO is a non-governmental organization and states that it is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. ISO provides measurable standards to tackle global issues, including climate change and sustainability.
Robson states that Sound Transit’s ESMS is a comprehensive way to address environmental risks, set goals and objectives to move toward greater environmental sustainability, and to train staff on environmental issues and stewardship.
“For Sound Transit, it’s really not just about doing green things or green elements, really it’s been about trying to elevate environmental protection and sustainability to something that is integrated into every facet of the agency’s organization,” she says. “It’s really integrated into the culture of the agency and integrated into the everyday activities at every level of the agency.”
This management system has established how the agency will get to where it wants to be. “Some of the things that we’re currently doing are establishing baseline activities like paper use; it seems so simple, but paper use, electricity and water use.” She continues, “We’ve been able to come up with some measurable goals for improving our environmental stewardship.”
As she explains, “It’s one thing to say, yeah, we recycle here. But it’s another to say, we’ve counted the number of units of paper that we’re using and we’re recycling this many tons each year.
“For this coming year, the goal of the agency is going to be not only to reduce the amount that is being thrown away, but also reduce paper use and reduce recycling — try to get at the heart of it so that it’s not a shallow surface effort.” With measurable goals, the agency is accountable to the public as it can show its progress.