The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Expo Line Phase 2 (Expo 2) Light Rail, a $1.5 billion, 6.6-mile-long project with seven stations has received Envision recognition for sustainable performance from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). The project earned the Envision rating system’s highest award level — Platinum. It is the first Metro project that is Envision-verified.
The Expo 2 Light Rail extension provides a needed public transportation system that connects downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica serving popular destinations along the route, such as the University of Southern California and West Los Angeles. Daily ridership is expected to remain high with more than 64,000 boarding passengers projected by 2030, making it one of the nation’s highest used light rail systems.
“Finishing the Expo Line to Santa Monica was a real game changer for the region, not only in terms of providing fast, convenient and efficient transportation to and from the Westside, but also our ability to incorporate and deliver a rail line system with sustainable performance built in,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington.
The Envision rating system recognizes sustainable infrastructure across the full range of environmental, social and economic impacts. There are a total of 60 credits in the rating system in five credit categories, including Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Risk. The Expo 2 project scored top marks in nearly all Quality of Life credits, due in part to its easement of traffic congestion, and for providing residents in Los Angeles with a faster, more environmentally responsible way of getting around.
Metro is committed to sustainability throughout the LA County transportation system, and is especially proud of the positive quality of life that the Expo Construction Authority and their contractor Skanska/Rados Joint Venture yielded on this project.
“As we continue to build out and operate our Metro Rail system, we are committed to using the latest sustainable technology available to ensure the region is well served,” said Metro Board Chair John Fasana. “We are appreciative of this recognition and continue to be proud of our construction partners.”
“It is projects like these that exemplify our commitment to building what matters. Giving communities transit options and alleviating congested roadways has so many benefits beyond the narrow field of construction that I’m happy this project was awarded such a distinguished honor” said Ryan Prime, sustainability director for Skanska USA Civil. “The Skanska Rados JV working with the Exposition Construction Authority delivered a superb piece of infrastructure Metro that will serve the community for decades to come.”
Team building and collaboration are core values for Metro, the Exposition Construction Authority and the project team. A significant investment was made by the owner, consultant and construction parties to foster a collaborative, integrated design process. A third-party facilitator was also brought in to develop and maintain and effective partnering program throughout the design and construction phases.
Each of the seven stations along the rail line feature original works of art to help create a unique identity for each station, and enhance the passenger experience. The Expo 2 project is a prime example of effective sustainable infrastructure integration, another aspect that the Envision system rates in the Leadership credit category. The Expo 2 line integrates effectively with all City of Los Angeles transportation systems, including existing bike networks, bus routes, Metrolink Commuter Rail and the Metro subway system.
“Expo 2’s Envision verification is not only an achievement for the project, but for the entire sustainable building community. While the building and home industry have seen so much success over the past few years with the introduction of the LEED rating system, the civil sector has really lagged. Envision helps fill that void and we are proud to be a part of the transition towards a greener LA and a greener civil market.” said Brian Freund, vice president of operations for Skanska USA Civil West.
Created in 2012 through a collaboration between the ISI and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Envision focuses on the impact of an infrastructure project as a whole. The Expo 2 project scored particularly well in the Quality of Life, Leadership, and Natural World categories of Envision’s system. Other notable Envision achievements include:
Leadership (LD): Long-term monitoring and State of Good Repair for the system is a top priority for Metro. This past November, the voters in Los Angeles County approved a half-cent sales tax that will provide funding for building world class transportation infrastructure for LA County and will ensure the successful long-term maintenance and operations of this system.
Resource Allocation (RA): A sound and viable sustainable procurement program was developed by the project team. Suppliers and contractors went through a comprehensive bid evaluation process that included health, safety and environmental criteria, along with cost, quality and technical compliance considerations. More than 30% of the total materials used on this project come from suppliers that demonstrate strong environmental and sustainability practices.
Quality of Life (QL): The Expo 2 Light Rail implemented non-standard track technology to minimize sound and vibration levels emitted by the light rail vehicles, which is especially important given the number of professional recording studios located along the line. Also, the project enhances public space by including a well-landscaped bikeway along the rail line, with larger green areas located at strategic points along the system.
Natural World (NW): The project increased natural habitats and connectivity by developing over 330,000 square feet of landscaping. The plants, trees, and shrubbery selected for this project are native to the area, and were selected to reduce irrigation and maintenance requirements, as well as what would be most suitable to preserve species biodiversity.
Climate and Risk (CR): The project considered a range of climate change impacts very early on in the planning stages. The anticipated emissions reduction as a result of this project will positively contribute to California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15% from 1990-2020 per the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
“ISI is pleased to present the Expo 2 project with the Envision Platinum award,” said ISI President and CEO, John Stanton. “This project demonstrates a high level of commitment to sustainability by all parties involved in the planning, design, construction and operation of this light rail system. It should serve the residents of Los Angeles well for many years to come.”