Sound Transit becomes sixth U.S. transit agency certified for embracing international environmental standards

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Sound Transit today became the sixth transit agency in the United States, and the first on the West Coast, to hold itself accountable for achieving rigorous international standards for promoting environmental sustainability.

A news conference today highlighted 2008 sustainability goals that span more than 50 areas of agency operations, ranging from reducing the amount of fuel consumed by commuter trains to purchasing green office supplies. Each year an independent firm will audit Sound Transit’s efforts.

“We all know that expanding mass transit and giving commuters an option other than their cars is the single biggest thing we can do to reduce greenhouse gases and combat global warming, but simply providing transit isn’t enough,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. “Government needs to lead by example when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions We will also set an example for embracing the kinds of everyday practices that all organizations and households can follow to help reduce greenhouse gasses.

“What we have are measurable targets, tangible goals, and actions that we will continue to take at every level of the agency,” Nickels said.

Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance, an independent and globally accredited registrar, today announced its certificate of approval for Sound Transit’s environmental management system against the internationally recognized ISO 14001 standard. The ISO 14001 standard is managed and monitored by the International Organization for Standardization, known as the ISO. The Switzerland-based organization is a network of the national standards institutes representing 157 countries.

Last summer, the Sound Transit Board adopted a Sustainability Initiative integrating sustainable business practices throughout the agency. Since then, agency staff has been hard at work implementing that direction. Sound Transit’s plan for addressing climate change includes measurable targets related to fuels, vehicles, and emissions; ecosystem protection; green procurement; recycling and waste prevention; energy and water conservation; sustainable design and building; and education and awareness. The agency’s Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) was developed and implemented to manage this effort.

At the news conference today, a representative of London-based Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance presented Sound Transit with a certificate of compliance for its environmental management system against the ISO 14001 environmental standard. To meet the requirements, an organization must put in place management tools enabling it to “identify and control the environmental impact of its activities, products or services and to improve its environmental performance continually.” It must implement a systematic approach to setting environmental objectives and targets and to demonstrating that they have been achieved.

“Sound Transit is more than just an environmentally conscious organization. It’s an organization that takes proactive measures to mitigate, manage and improve its environmental impacts,” said Andrew Smith, Senior Vice President of Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance, Inc., the independent and globally accredited auditing firm that approved the ISO 14001 certification of Sound Transit’s Environmental and Sustainability Management System. “Sound Transit has implemented an environmental management system which takes all aspects of its business into account. This is not easy to do. Taking the time to place as much of an investment in the welfare of its community and the environment as it does in its everyday business is more than commendable, it’s impressive.”

“The Federal Transit Administration interests are to ensure that the projects we fund are high quality transit projects that meet all local, state and federal environmental laws and standards. That’s why we provided extensive training over a year-long period on Environmental Management Systems to 10 transit agencies, including Sound Transit,” said Richard Krochalis, Regional Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration’s Region 10 office in Seattle. “We applaud Sound Transit as one of the graduates of our environmental management training, to have taken the initiative to more fully develop their policies and procedures and to seek approval, and now gain certification from the International Organization for Standardization.”

“Climate change is the greatest challenge we face in the fight for vibrant, healthy communities. In Washington State, single-occupancy vehicles are responsible for roughly half of our climate change emissions,” said Jessyn Farrell, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. “We all know that Sound Transit is a leader in providing mass transit options for our region, giving commuters the option of reducing their own carbon footprint by using mass transit. Today we see Sound Transit emerging as a national and international leader in incorporating and integrating environmental protection and sustainability into the heart of their business operations.”

“Sound Transit is committed to minimizing our own carbon footprint by integrating sustainable business practices throughout the agency,” said Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl. “Environmental protection and sustainability is at the heart of who we are as a transit agency, providing multi-modal options other than cars for our region. Now with our Board’s leadership through the Sustainability Initiative and our internationally recognized management system, environmental protection is also at the heart of what every employee does each day.”

Transit is key to responding to climate change because it connects communities, reduces vehicle miles traveled and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Climate experts nationwide agree that drastically reducing overall vehicle miles traveled is required to slash emissions and improve air quality. Public transit offers residents the chance to make a positive contribution to the environment.

Sound Transit provides transportation choices to the state’s most populous region, with nearly three million people and approximately 40 percent of the state’s population. Sound Transit’s ST Express buses and Link light rail and Sounder commuter rail trains carry more than 50,000 riders each weekday. Ridership will increase when the Link light rail line connecting downtown Seattle and the airport opens in 2009 and with the extension northward to the University of Washington that Sound Transit is working to start building in 2008. Sound Transit is currently working with the residents and leaders of the more than 50 cities in the Sound Transit District to identify regional transit service expansions for submission to voters as part of a future ballot measure.

Sound Transit and the Environment >>>


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Sound Transit’s regional network of express buses, commuter rail, light rail and transit facilities connects communities in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.