WMATA's Sustainability Initiative keeps WMATA on track to achieve financial and environmental goals while improving safety and reliability. The initiative set forward 3 regional and 7 internal service efficiency targets for WMATA to manage to and reach by 2025. It also established the Sustainability Lab and Sustainability Awards to promote cost effective innovation and best practice adoption at the authority.
Since its adoption in 2014, WMATA's Sustainability projects have included efficient passenger garage lighting, rail yard switch heaters, and building automation systems at key facilities. These projects have saved WMATA nearly $2.5 million annually across the agency while reducing use of utilities, upgrading equipment and reducing labor requirements.
Programs like WMATA's Sustainability Lab allow the Authority's creative minds to show what is possible as we improve the system. Financially sound, environmentally-friendly projects are being submitted as improvements are made throughout the system. The Lab has implemented pilots related to the use of energy, water, and waste disposal that are expected to save the Authority $1.2 million in operating costs over the next five years and if rolled out agency-wide, could save over $10 million annually. In 2018, the program will continue to invest in high return initiatives that can bring down long term operating costs.
Employees are critical to agency innovation and achieving WMATA's Sustainability Initiative targets. Through its annual Sustainability Awards program, senior staff recognize and present awards to staff for implementation of projects that create cost saving and/or sustainable business practices to the Authority.
WMATA Sustainability projects completed to date include:
- The addition of one battery-electric bus to the fleet for testing on selected routes in the region. Battery-electric drive train vehicles provide fuel and maintenance savings, while offering quieter and emissions-free bus operations.
- Stricter regulatory requirements from the Maryland Department of the Environment, as part of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act, triggered the need for WMATA to construct a new water treatment building at the Largo pumping station. WMATA's new state-of- the-art facility employs a combination of design elements that help WMATA meet regulatory requirements, achieve its sustainability targets, and reduce operating costs.
- A Sustainability Lab funded pilot of new high efficiency switch heaters estimated to produce energy savings of $135,000 annually is now underway. Switch heaters provide switch protection in cold weather to enable switches to remain operational. If this pilot proves successful, WMATA has 285 yard switches that could be converted.
- A new tub grinder, funded by the Sustainability Lab, is expected to save approximately $50,000 annually. This project will divert approximately 4,000 cubic yards of compostable waste from Metro's waste stream and will recoup the initial investment in equipment within three to four years.
- An evaluation of WMATA's solar generation potential and the potential to monetize this otherwise latent assets has been completed. Significant market ready on-site solar capacity has been identified on WMATA property. However, many of WMATA's assets with solar capacity remain economically unfeasible. WMATA continues to investigate opportunities for sourcing off-site economically beneficial renewable energy generation to achieve its 30 percent renewable target by 2025.
- In 2014, WMATA achieved a major success with the initiation of the self-funding garage lighting efficiency contract. This contract provided for the installation and maintenance of new equipment which was funded through guaranteed energy savings. This demonstrates that WMATA can successfully use the energy savings to finance infrastructure investments that radically improve the customer experience. Twenty-five passenger parking facilities benefited from safety enhancing lighting upgrades that reduced energy use by over 68 percent.