January 24, 2013

SEPTA releases annual sustainability report

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) released its Sustainability Annual Report, which details the agency's progress on its efforts to pursue a "triple bottom-line" strategy to become environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

For SEPTA, 2013 marks the third year of a formalized Sustainability Program. In 2011, when the SEPTA Board adopted its first-ever Sustainability Plan, it introduced the concept of the triple bottom-line to the organization.

Last year, SEPTA put this comprehensive planning framework into action. What emerged were innovative strategies to capture wasted resources and put them back into productive use in a way that added environmental, social, and economic value. Untapped assets were discovered in a variety of forms:

•    Energy created by braking trains now being captured and reused at a power substation.

•    Landfilled waste now being recycled through a single-stream, source-separated recycling program.

•    Unused real estate now being cultivated into a self-sustaining urban farm.

The results of these efforts are shown in a number of areas. Four of 12 sustainability performance targets are already achieved each of the triple-bottom-line focuses. On the environmental end, SEPTA has seen more than 10% reductions in water and energy intensity. Work on the social goals has resulted in the hosting of four farmers markets on SEPTA property. Economically, sustainability efforts have helped control operating expenses.

"This report represents our appraisal of progress to-date, and goals for the year to come," said SEPTA GM Joseph M. Casey. "It also reinforces SEPTA's steadfast commitment to continual improvement, and ongoing effort to become a constructive force in regional sustainability."

SEPTA's Sustainability Program embraces continual improvement, and the notion that performance enhancements can only be sustained by constantly reevaluating progress over time. While funding challenges continue to constrain levels of capital investment, the results of the first two years of the Sustainability Program have demonstrated that opportunities still exist to advance projects that add value to SEPTA and its region.

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