Reduce SEPTA&s Carbon Footprint Improve Energy Efficiency Improve Water Efficiency Reduce Stormwater Runoff Reduce & Reuse Waste

Goal 1: Reduce SEPTA's Carbon Footprint

Decrease Normalized GHG Emissions by 20% by 2020

SEPTA produces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the daily combustion of carbon-based fuels and purchase of fossil fuel-based electricity. GHG emissions contribute to global climate change, so SEPTA aims to minimize its emissions by increasing energy efficiency and using less carbon-intensive sources of energy.

Gross GHG Emissions

SEPTA's GHG target is to decrease normalized emissions by 20% by 2020. SEPTA measures both gross (total, non-normalized) GHG emissions and ridership and divides its total emissions by the number of passenger miles traveled (PMT) each year to evaluate its progress. As of the end of calendar year 2015, SEPTA is on track to reach its goal of 20% reduction. This is SEPTA's one sustainability goal that is measured on a calendar year basis as this is consistent with EPA reporting on GHG emissions.

Normalized GHG Emissions

As a provider of mass transit, SEPTA also prevents the emission of additional GHGs by reducing congestion and idling, taking cars off the road, and supporting compact land use patterns. Increasing ridership will both intensify this additional prevention while decreasing its normalized GHG emissions, and so in addition to decreasing its own GHG emissions, increasing ridership is crucial to reducing the region's carbon footprint as well.

Step 1, 2, and 3

Goal 2: Improve Energy Efficiency

Decrease Normalized Energy Consumption by 10% by 2020

SEPTA depends on energy for every aspect of its operations, from powering railcars and buses to heating stations and illuminating track signals. Energy inefficiency has negative environmental impacts including incremental GHG emissions and air pollution from energy generation and also comprises a significant part of SEPTA's operating budget. SEPTA aims to increase its energy efficiency by implementing more efficient technologies and finding other ways to reduce energy consumption.

Gross Energy Consumption

SEPTA's second sustainability goal target is to improve energy efficiency by 10% by 2020. Thus, SEPTA measures both gross (total, non-normalized) energy consumption and ridership and divides its total consumption by the number of passenger miles traveled (PMT) each year to evaluate its progress. As of the end of fiscal year 2016, SEPTA is on track to exceed its goal of 10% reduction.

Normalized Energy Consumption

SEPTA's Regional Rail, Norristown High Speed Line, Market Frankford Line, Broad Street Line, and trolleys buses are all powered by electricity while its buses are powered by diesel fuel and its Customized Community Transportation (CCT) runs on both gasoline and diesel fuels. SEPTA's buses log more miles than any other mode accounts for approximately half of all energy used to transport customers. SEPTA has been able to significantly reduce its buses energy consumption by investing in hybrid buses - currently more than half the fleet - and will continue to invest in new technologies, like electric vehicles, to further reduce its fleets' energy consumptions.

Energy Consumption by Mode

Approximately 78% of the energy that SEPTA consumes is used to transport passengers by bus or rail. The remaining 22% is used in providing heating and electricity to passenger stations, depots, offices, and maintenance facilities.

Energy Sources

Goal 3: Improve Water Efficiency

Decrease Normalized Water Consumption by 25% by 2020

Water is an essential part of SEPTA's operations from bus washers to bathrooms at passenger stations. In recognition of fresh water as a limited resource, SEPTA aims to decrease consumption its water consumption.

Gross Water Consumption

SEPTA's third sustainability goals, to improve water efficiency, is measured by normalized water consumption. Thus, SEPTA measures both gross (total, non-normalized) water consumption and ridership and divides this total consumption by the number of passenger miles traveled (PMT) each year to evaluate its progress. SEPTA has Recently SEPTA has seen significant increases in water consumption and will need significantly decrease this consumption in order to achieve its 2020 goal.

Normalized Water Consumption

Within SEPTA's operations, bus and vehicle washers consume the most water as vehicles are washed at least daily. SEPTA has begun retrofitting its bus washers to use recycled water which will significantly decrease SEPTA's water consumption in the future.

In 2015, SEPTA Saved 216,935 gallons from bus wather retrofits at Midvale Depot.

Goal 4: Reduce Stormwater Runoff

Increase Green Acreage by 25 Acres by 2020

In SEPTA's service area there are both separate sewer systems and combined sewer systems. Green acreage and stormwater management infrastructure reduce the amount of water that enters sewer systems. By decreasing the amount of water that flows into sewers, SEPTA supports efforts to reduce local water pollution while also beautifying transit facilities.

In separate sewer systems (SSS), sanitary sewage (from households and commercial buildings) is piped directly to treatment facilities while stormwater runoff flows directly from the streets into local waterways. This stormwater runoff carries chemicals and pollutants picked up from streets and surfaces and generates pollution into these waterways.

Separate sewer system.


Conversely, in combined sewer systems (CSS), stormwater runoff joins sanitary sewage which are piped together to water treatment facilities. While CSS typically prevents pollution from untreated runoff, when the capacity of CSS is exceeded, typically due to excessive rainfall, the combined sewage overflows into local waterways and both the stormwater runoff and sanitary sewage generate pollution.

In order to address these environmental concerns, SEPTA aims to increase the area of its permeable surfaces. SEPTA will continue to consider stormwater management in the design process of future building and renovation projects and will implement a Stormwater Management Plan outlining sites for future stormwater management projects. From FY15 to FY16, stormwater projects at North Wales Station and 9th Street Station increased SEPTA's green acreage by 3.2 acres.

One way SEPTA can intercept more stormwater is through planting more trees and vegetation. In addition to managing stormwater, planting trees also help to sequester carbon reducing impacts of climate change and add aesthetic value to SEPTA stations.

Goal 5: Reduce & Reuse Waste

1. Reach a 25% Diversion Rate for Waste Produced by Passengers at Stations by 2020

2. Maintain an 80% Diversion Rate for Waste Produced by Employees at Facilities by 2020

Recycling at SEPTA

SEPTA collects waste at passenger stations, at SEPTA facilities, and at construction sites. Waste production and landfill use have many negative impacts on the natural environment including methane production and limiting land use. SEPTA has established waste management as an environmental goal to reduce and reuse its waste products to diminish the environmental impacts or waste disposal, and reduce waste hauling costs.

Total Passenger Waste & Recycling and Total Employee & Facility Waste & Recycling

SEPTA's fifth sustainability goal, to reduce and reuse waste, is split up into two sub-goals: decreasing passenger waste at stations and decreasing or maintaining employee waste at facilities. As of the end of fiscal year 2016, SEPTA is on track to achieve both of these goals by 2020.

Recycled Materials at SEPTA

SEPTA has recycling programs for many types of materials at its facilities which not only reduce its waste hauling costs and mitigate its contributions to landfills but in some cases also provide further revenue for SEPTA.