February 2008, Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) formally presented
Sound Transit with a certificate of approval for the transit agency's
environmental management system against the internationally recognised
ISO 14001 standard.
Compliance with ISO 14001 has helped this U.S. transit agency to identify,
prioritise and manage environmental risks, and LRQA certification has
provided a public demonstration of the authority’s commitment to
Sound Transit provides transportation choices to nearly 3 million people
around Seattle in Washington State, carrying about 50,000 riders each
working day, operating regional express buses, Sounder commuter rail,
and Link light rail. Light rail from SeaTac International Airport to downtown
Seattle will open in 2009.
In 2007, nearly 14 million
journeys were provided, representing an increase of 12.3% over the previous
year, which is around 6 times the U.S. national increase in public transport
Many new riders are citing
high gas prices and the comfort and convenience of the commuter train
as their motivation for changing to public transit. Gas prices in Washington
State are some of the highest in the country and are currently around
$4/gallon for regular unleaded. One of the reasons for Washington’s
higher prices is that its gas tax is one of the highest in the nation.
A recent Sound Transit rider
survey reveals that environmental benefit was one of the top reasons new
riders cited for a switch to public transit.
In the United States 33% of
total Greenhouse Gas Emissions are derived from mobile sources; mostly
automobiles and light trucks.
However, a single commuter switching to public transportation can save
around 10% of a family’s carbon footprint and a two car family switching
all travel to public transport can reduce its carbon footprint by 50%.
It is clear, therefore, that public transport must play a major role in
the fight against climate change.
ISO 14001 at Sound
In 2004 Sound Transit began a long-term initiative to develop an Environmental
and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) designed specifically to meet
the requirements of ISO 14001.
From the outset, Sound Transit was keen to ensure that its sustainability
objectives should impact upon every aspect of its operation, from the
maintenance and construction of fixed assets to the operation of the public
The creation of an inter-departmental Steering Committee with subcommittees
was key to the successful implementation of environmental strategy at
all levels. This has provided a strong foundation to support Sound Transit
in choosing sustainable and environmentally responsible practices, whilst
promoting predictability and consistency in the management of environmental
Key benefits of ISO
Attainment of ISO 14001 necessitates the adoption of an holistic approach
to environmental management, ensuring that implementation of environmental
objectives takes place in every area of activity and at all levels. It
also ensures that environmental and sustainability performance is continually
improved, and for a public body, the attainment of ISO 14001 helps to
promote corporate and individual social and environmental responsibility.
Transparency and accountability
are vitally important for public bodies such as Sound Transit, so it was
important for environmental initiatives to be ratified by an internationally
renowned and highly respected organisation. Furthermore, it was essential
for Sound Transit to partner business assessors with the experience, technical
ability and credibility with which to challenge and continuously improve
the program. For these reasons, Sound Transit chose to partner with LRQA
in the certification process.
Perry Weinberg, Environmental
Compliance Manager for Sound Transit says,
“In our view, ISO 14001 isn’t a destination – it’s
a direction, so we are really excited about the future. We feel that we
have created an innovative, robust but flexible, environmental management
system that will take us beyond merely fulfilling our environmental responsibilities.
The expertise and insight that LRQA has shown throughout the certification
process has been invaluable to us.”
Before presenting Sound Transit
with their ISO 14001 Certificate, Andrew Smith, Senior Vice President,
Lloyd's Register Americas Management Systems said, "With this certificate,
Sound Transit joins more than 7,500 other recipients of the ISO 14001
approvals that LRQA has issued worldwide. I commend Sound Transit for
the important steps it has taken to reduce its environmental footprint."
Results so far
Crucially, the implementation of ISO 14001 has created a comprehensive
range of measureable objectives. In 2008, Sound Transit is working on
programs to achieve in excess of 50 objectives that fall into 7 key areas.
1. Fuels, vehicles, and emissions
(e.g. Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel and idling reduction)
2. Ecosystem protection (e.g. pesticides reduction, mitigation projects,
3. Sustainable design and building (e.g. environmental strategies during
the construction and operation of a new $1.8 billion light rail project)
4. Green procurement (e.g. recycled content paper, office supplies, cleaning
products, and electronics)
5. Recycling and waste prevention (e.g. paper reduction, recycling organic
waste, salvage and recycling during construction)
6. Energy and water conservation (e.g. natural and low energy lighting)
7. Education and awareness (e.g. Seattle Climate Partnership and employee
As an example of the environmental
and cost benefits that such initiatives can generate, 35 express buses
are now parked in Seattle after the morning commute until they are needed
to return to the suburbs in the evening. Previously, they returned empty
to the suburbs at midday, and Sound Transit estimates that the mid-day
bus storage program saved 122,000 gallons of fuel in 2007 and approximately
$700,000 in fuel and maintenance costs.
The Big Picture
"Government needs to lead by example when it comes to combating global
warming. Sound Transit provides the critical transit options people in
the Puget Sound region need to reduce their own carbon footprint, but
it is also important that we as an agency do our part strongly,"
said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. "Earning
the ISO 14001 certification for our Environmental and Sustainability Management
System means that Sound Transit is not just talk--we have measurable targets,
tangible goals, and real actions that we will continue to take at every
level of the agency to help protect the environment."
Notes to editors:
1. The contact details are as follows:
Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance Ltd.
Hiramford, Middlemarch Office Village
Coventry CV3 4FJ
T +44 (0) 24 7688 2382
2. Conscious of the need for
organisations to have confidence in the delivery of their promises to
clients and stakeholders, LRQA has developed a new approach to the assessment
of management systems. LRQA calls this Business Assurance.
LRQA helps businesses to ensure that they meet objectives, improve competitiveness,
control risks and deliver on their promises.
LRQA Business Assurance helps
provide assurance that management systems are designed around the most
critical business risks; that processes produce the outcomes that stakeholders
want and that management systems are capable of delivery continuous improvement.
In short, LRQA helps organisations to create more certainty in their business.
For further information, visit