Hillsborough (Fla.) Area Regional Transit Authority (HART has received an official ISO 14001 Certification for its Environmental Sustainability and Management System (ESMS). Audit firm, DQS Inc., has certified HART as one of 13 transit agencies in the country and the only transit system in Florida to achieve International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) 14001 Standard.
HART began work to achieve this certification in 2013 when it was accepted to the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) ISO 14001 EMS Institute at Virginia Tech University. A two-year program, the academy is designed to help transit agencies develop and implement an ESMS, using the ISO 14001 Standard. ISO is an independent, non-governmental organization that brings together experts to share knowledge and develop standards that provide solutions to global challenges such as environmental management.
These management tools enable an organization to control the environmental impact of its activities and represent a structured approach to setting environmental objectives and targets. Fulfilling the requirements of the standard demands objective evidence, which can be audited to demonstrate that the environmental management system is operating effectively in conformance with the standard. Benefits include higher conformance with legislative and regulatory requirements, improved efficiency, minimized risk of regulatory and environmental fines, reductions in waste and consumption of resources, and better internal controls.
"Developing an ISO 14001-certified Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) program provides assurance to our community, stakeholders, and employees that our operations and services are environmentally friendly." said HART CFO and the agency's Sustainability Champion Jeff Seward. "Now that we're certified, the ESMS also provides a framework for us to continuously take steps to reduce pollution and continually improve our environmental footprint on the Tampa Bay region."
"It is another positive impact on the environment to make sure that we are doing as little as possible to negatively impact it," ESMS Coordinator Thomas Jones said. "We are cutting costs with better business practices, and we are also using less resources ... more efficiently."
The FTA has sponsored four ESMS academies, each with a class of 10 transit agencies. Of those, 13 have gone on to become ISO 14001-certified and HART is the only one in Florida, placing it in the upper echelon of transit agencies that have made a commitment to the environment.
Other ISO-certified agencies include, Foothill Transit (Calif.), which provided more than 14 million rides in 2015; Sound Transit (Seattle), which provides 28 million rides a year; Lane Transit District (Oregon), which provides an average of 11 million rides a year; and Los Angeles Metro, which provided 453 million boardings in 2015.