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Sustainability in Action

The San Mateo County Transit District is committed to incorporating sustainability in its standard operating procedures, programs and initiatives. This is a continuous improvement process – here are some examples of the District’s accomplishments so far.

Bus Maintenance

Waste. At the SamTrans North Base and South Base bus maintenance facilities, the agency recycles as many materials and maintenance fluids as possible, including refrigerants, antifreeze, motor oil, scrap metals and plastics, and recyclables left on the bus by customers.

Water. As part of its drought water conservation efforts, in June 2015 SamTrans adjusted exterior bus wash schedules to reduce water use by 50 percent. In addition, SamTrans’ bus wash systems recycle 70-85 percent of the water used. Read more about the agency's drought conservation efforts and achievements HERE

Facilities Maintenance

Energy. The District upgraded fluorescent light bulbs from T12 to more efficient T8 models, and is currently testing LEDs in offices and parking structures. In addition, occupancy sensors turn off lights in primary conference rooms and employees practice a last-out-lights-out policy everywhere else. The District is currently working on a project to replace existing high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting at North Base and South Base with energy-efficient LEDs, which are 80 percent more efficient and require less maintenance. In addition, the District will defray some of the capital costs through an energy efficiency rebate partnership with Pacific Gas & Electric and San Mateo County Energy Watch.

Water. Water conserving faucet aerators in the administrative office bathrooms and kitchenettes reduce water use by 25-40 percent per faucet. Save Our Water signage in bathrooms, kitchenettes, and showers reminds employees to be more mindful of water use and provides water-saving tips. As part of its drought water conservation efforts, in May 2015 the District eliminated or significantly reduced landscape irrigation at SamTrans Park & Rides, administrative buildings, and bus maintenance and operations facilities.
Overall, the District's water conservation efforts in facilities, fleet, and employee behavior and messaging have reduced SamTrans water use by 50 percent in FY2016 compared to the state drought baseline year of 2013. Moving forward, the District is also exploring capital projects to replace aging sprinkler systems with water-efficient drip irrigation.

Waste. In partnership with Recology San Mateo County, the District introduced food-waste composting service and upgraded waste bins and signage at its Central administrative office in 2015. The project was developed by a cross-departmental task force in collaboration with Facilities and janitorial staff, and included comprehensive training for employees to ensure proper use of the compost/recycle/landfill system. Compared to 2014, the District reduced Central’s landfill waste 30 percent (for a total diversion rate of 70 percent), all while saving 15 percent on garbage bills. For these achievements, the District was awarded a BizSMART@Work Award in 2015 (read more about it HERE). In 2016, the District expanded these improved waste management practices to its North Base, South Base, and Brewster bus maintenance and operations facilities. Overall, this waste management initiative has reduced SamTrans' landfill waste by 30 percent, equivalent to the amount of waste produced by 200 California households.  
Green Janitorial Practices. The District’s janitorial staff uses green cleaning supplies and stocks restrooms with recycled paper products.


Business Practices

Community Choice Energy. The District is participating in three Community Choice Energy programs launching in 2016-2017: 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 Pacific Gas & Electric poles and wires. At no additional cost, SamTrans' power will be 20 percent more renewable and Caltrain's power will be nearly 10 percent less carbon-intensive, making our transit services even more sustainable.

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy. The District’s EPP Policy guides environmental considerations in the District’s contracting and procurement processes. For more information, please click HERE.

Capital Budget Evaluation. During the annual capital project budget evaluation process, projects receive additional points if they meet certain sustainability criteria. This helps inform the prioritization of capital projects for funding.

Paper Reduction. District printers default to double-sided printing, and conference rooms are equipped with computers and monitors for viewing documents during meetings to reduce the need for printed handouts. The District uses 100 percent post-consumer recycled content paper in its high-volume printers and 30 percent recycled and/or Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper elsewhere.

E-waste. Electronic waste, such as used computers, monitors, keyboards, and printer cartridges, is collected by a CalRecycle approved e-waste collector to be refurbished and reused where possible, or otherwise recycled at certified in-state recycling facilities.

100 Percent Renewable Electricity
By summer 2017, SamTrans will be using 100 percent renewable and 100 percent greenhouse gas emission-free electricity to power all its facilities. By doing so, SamTrans will reduce its carbon footprint from electricity use by 40 percent, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 200 cars or 100 homes. On March 1, 2017, the SamTrans Board of Directors voted to expand the agency's use of renewable electricity. By working with Peninsula Clean Energy, San Mateo County's Community Choice Energy Program, SamTrans will meet its power needs through 100 percent renewable sources such as solar, wind, and small hydroelectric. Peninsula Clean Energy's service package was chosen due to its reliability, cost, environmental benefits, administrative procedures, and compatibility with future SamTrans operations. The electricity will still be delivered in partnership with PG&E on PG&E's infrastructure and supported by PG&E's billing and customer service. For more information, please see the Board presentation and press release.

Hybrid Bus Fleet
SamTrans added 25 diesel-electric hybrid buses to its fleet in 2013 and 2014. Compared to standard diesel buses, the hybrids save fuel and produce less nitrogen oxide emissions, inhalable particulates and greenhouse gas emissions. These state-of-the-art buses also generate less noise for a smoother and quieter experience for customers and communities. For more information, please click HERE.

Resiliency and Sea Level Rise
The District has partnered with Sea Change San Mateo County to assess sea level rise vulnerabilities and adaptation options for key District facilities.  

Earth Day
The District celebrates Earth Day each April with public and employee events. Past and planned events include a sustainable scavenger hunt, a tour of the Shoreway Recycling Center and Transfer Station, and brownbag presentations by the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency and Sustainable San Mateo County. A special “Earth Day Every Day” bus headsign was displayed on all buses to encourage the public to ride SamTrans as a sustainable transportation alternative to a single passenger vehicle.

Dump the Pump Day
Each June the District joins the American Public Transportation Association and public transportation systems across the country in celebration of National Dump the Pump Day, which encourages people to ride public transportation instead of driving to save money – and also reduce their carbon footprint. For more information, please click HERE.

4/14/17 - ms