• CDM Smith’s design of the new BTA intermodal transit center won a 2011 Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania.

file under: Government, Green Design, North America, Transportation, United States

Taking the Lead in Sustainable Transit

For growing communities, modern solutions are required to keep up with the challenges of increased congestion, commuting demands and operating costs. Two transit centers in Pennsylvania, USA, are meeting ongoing success through more than just expanded transportation systems—they are implementing aggressive sustainability goals to reduce energy consumption.

This facility is really setting the standard for sustainability and energy efficiency in Pennsylvania. 

By leveraging federal grant funds, CDM Smith helped the transit authorities in the cities of Butler and Lancaster design award-winning, innovative and sustainable transit centers. Jason Venier, CDM Smith associate and client service manager, notes the importance of this approach. "It’s most beneficial when we can help communities leverage capital to incorporate energy- efficient systems in their facilities, ultimately lowering operating costs and utility bills."

Industrial History, Progressive Future
One of the fastest growing counties in Pennsylvania, Butler County needed to address the travel and commuting challenges of its many citizens. “We partnered with CDM Smith to design a state-of-the-art intermodal transit center to increase mobility options now and in the future,” explains John Paul, Butler Transit Authority (BTA) executive director. “This allowed us to be more efficient and house operations in one place for the first time.”

A modern solution from the county’s industrial history, the new transit center is located on a former brownfield site that had been home to railcar manufacturers and a World War II equipment producer. Unexpected metal contamination in the site soil was found as demolition and roadway construction progressed, but CDM Smith’s remediation plan ensured the site was cleaned and “shovel-ready” as designs were finalized. Interactive, 3D design software allowed BTA to visualize the space from design through construction. “The result of this project was a sustainable, energy-efficient transit facility with centrally located administrative, maintenance and bus storage space,” describes Paul.

Award-Winning LEED® Design
BTA’s center does more than increase mobility. “The sustainable design elements of our facility are projected to significantly reduce operating and utility costs,” states Paul. “We are impressed with the result for our community and are proud that we’ll be Pennsylvania’s first LEED-certified transit facility.”

Butler County Transit conference roomBTA applied for federal transportation funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and was awarded more than $5 million. According to Venier, “As part of the grant application process, we actually needed to redesign the facility in 4 months to include sustainable green building features and reduce the center’s physical footprint.” Some of those features include radiant floor heat, waste oil burners, natural day-lighting and motion sensors. A new geothermal heating and cooling system reduces utility costs by 50 percent and eliminates approximately 80 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Looking for Room to Grow
For the Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA), expanding and renovating its Lancaster transit operations center was necessary to keep up with community growth and address aging infrastructure. “We were very cramped before starting this project,” notes David Kilmer, RRTA executive director. “We didn’t have any room to move and were dealing with floodplain issues from our original construction.” RRTA teamed up with CDM Smith for architectural, engineering, planning and environmental services to renovate the facility.

“There wasn’t much opportunity to expand, so our design really had to maximize space,” explains Edward Roethlein, CDM Smith project manager. The administration facility includes a 2,000-square-foot addition using recycled materials for floor tiles, acoustic ceilings and carpeting. A new mezzanine in the 9,000-square-foot bus storage building increases bus capacity and maximizes storage and work space.

Up on the Roof
CDM Smith’s design helped RRTA become more energy efficient, starting from the top. A green roof and skylights reduce stormwater runoff and provide natural daylight. Six hundred solar voltaic panels mounted on the bus storage, maintenance and administrative areas significantly reduce RRTA’s utility costs. Waste oil burners and a new geothermal system heat and cool the administrative offices and bus maintenance buildings. “We were very excited to be able to make some major strides in energy efficiency to reduce both our operating costs and our carbon footprint,” adds Kilmer. Through these sustainable design elements, RRTA was able to secure a competitive $2.5 million Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction grant.

“RRTA is doing everything they can to become as energy neutral as possible; they’re generating more than 70 percent of their own energy right now from their solar voltaic panels, with more plans for solar expansion in the future,” boasts Venier. “This facility is really setting the standard for sustainability and energy efficiency in Pennsylvania.”

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