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Metro unveils inaugural ‘energy action plan’ to reduce emissions and energy costs

The transit agency says it will put $65 million toward a myriad of sustainability efforts by 2025

The Union Station Metro stop
Shutterstock

Here’s some Earth Day news with underground implications: Metro says it will invest $65 million from its capital budget toward a wide variety of sustainability efforts over the next several years. The regional transit agency announced Monday its first-ever “energy action plan,” saying this plan is “a detailed roadmap to reduce energy usage, cut greenhouse gas emissions and generate up to $29 million annually in energy and operational cost savings.”

The plan follows a 2017 audit of Metro’s energy usage that recommended significant energy cuts by 2025. “Business as usual energy costs are expected to increase by 34 percent between 2017 and 2025,” according to the plan. “This increase is primarily due to increasing energy consumption (e.g. the extension of the Silver Line to Dulles airport and Loudoun County) and increasing utility costs and commodity prices.” Metro says fully implementing the plan would limit the average annual growth in its energy costs to 1.7 percent, as compared with 3 percent under current conditions. Some savings would relate to operations and maintenance.

Additionally, with a new sustainability calculator, Metro riders can now estimate how much carbon they would offset by taking rail or bus rather than a solo car ride. The transit agency says the energy action plan is expected to result in the equivalent of 35,000 fewer vehicles on the road every year. (The plan also notes that energy costs are currently Metro’s “largest non-personnel operating expense.”) Here are a few highlights from the plan, per a Metro release:

Metro’s new Potomac Yard Station is being designed to be the first-ever LEED Certified transit station in the U.S.

Metro’s new headquarters building, located near L’Enfant Plaza, will be designed to LEED platinum standards, the highest level of energy efficiency and green building.

Metro is developing an electric bus deployment strategy to pilot and evaluate the use of electric buses in the fleet.

Metro says some of its sustainability initiatives are already being implemented. They include “regenerative breaking systems” on new railcars (where energy is recuperated as trains slow down), a “net-zero” Metro water treatment facility in Largo, Maryland (that leverages gravity and solar panels), and new LED trackbed lighting installed at about two dozen underground stations. You can read the energy action plan, which includes the 2017 audit’s findings, here.