CapMetro Sustainability Vision Plan
CapMetro Sustainability Vision Plan
Helping Austin Chart a Path Toward More Sustainable Transit
CapMetro is Austin's public transportation provider, with more than 31 million bus, rail and shuttle boardings each year. The agency understands its key role in delivering sustainable solutions for the region.
We led the development of a sustainability vision plan for CapMetro, which defines a sustainability vision, goals, action areas, targets and strategies — aligned with best practices of transit agencies across the U.S. and consistent with regional plans in the greater Austin area. The document outlines CapMetro’s sustainability strategic values (e.g. equity, climate resiliency, and sustainability valuation) and lays the groundwork for integrating sustainability across the agency.
The results of this planning effort were used to meet the Federal Transit Administration’s Sustainable Transit for a Healthy Planet Challenge. CapMetro was named a large agency “Champion of the Challenge,” which reflected the agency’s commitment to “achievable, ambitious strategies for reaching their greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.”
In addition to the plan itself, we worked with the agency to develop a sustainability checklist that aligns with third-party rating systems such as Envision, LEED, Austin Energy Green Building, SITES, as well as Austin Transit Partnership’s plans. The checklist is consistent with the Sustainability Vision Plan’s action areas:
- Energy: Conservation, Efficiency, Renewables
- Sustainable and Zero Emission Fleet
- Water and Natural World
- Zero Waste, Natural Resource Management
- Green Building and Infrastructure
- Active Transportation
- Environmental and Sustainability Management
The sustainability checklist identifies key sustainability benefits associated with each strategy. This information will be used to develop action plans and sustainability guidelines that will support implementation of sustainability strategies into capital improvements and operations, maintenance practices for CapMetro, as well as its partner organization, the Austin Transit Partnership.
While CapMetro has been on the leading edge of sustainability, this plan is an important step toward moving from sustainability planning to incorporating sustainability strategies across the agency’s projects and operations — a key agency objective. It also sets the stage for evaluating the monetized benefits associated with sustainability initiatives to better inform capital investment decision-making, particularly when choosing projects to fund with CapMetro’s Sustainability Project Fund.
Our strategic communications and graphics teams were integral in the final published plan, as the client wanted a very visual document that would help educate the community and illustrate current practices and future goals.
The Sustainability Vision Plan was intended to serve several purposes, which added a level of complexity:
- It needed to organize CapMetro's multiple sustainability initiatives and compare with other city and regional sustainability goals.
- It needed to reflect transit agency best practices, including expectations of the American Public Transportation Association's Sustainability Commitment.
- The agency needed the plan to be consistent with the climate action plan expectations of the Federal Transit Administration's Sustainable Transit for a Healthy Planet Challenge.
- It needed to be structured in a way that would facilitate future sustainability activities, including design guidelines development, action plan implementation, and consideration of sustainability benefits when choosing projects to fund.
Not only is the agency committed to achieving quantifiable targets to support its sustainability goals, it is also expeditiously incorporating sustainability into its agency’s operations and capital programs.
We are presently building on the sustainability plan we supported in 2022, by working with CapMetro and Austin Transit Partnership to develop a sustainability criteria and guidelines document, as well as a sustainability checklist, for use in delivering transit projects in the city of Austin. This is a challenging endeavor because it is informing potential future transit investment decision-making, and it is also contributing to projects that are presently being completed as part of Project Connect — an Austin community effort expanding transit options throughout the area. Our services are helping CapMetro and its partners maintain a commitment to the environment and sustainable practices.