This past fall, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s (VTA) Board of Directors approved a new policy to make its building projects more environmentally sustainable. The new Green Building Policy will impact all stages of development as well as maintenance of VTA-owned properties.
“Sustainability is not new to VTA,” commented Holly Perez, VTA’s Public Information Officer. “In 2008, VTA approved a Sustainability Program and established a goal to incorporate green building principles into VTA projects that include new or renovated buildings or other facilities such as parking garages or bus rapid transit stations. VTA has since constructed and renovated several buildings with renewable energy, water and energy efficient fixtures, drought-tolerant landscaping, and other green building features.”
The Green Building Policy is the VTA’s way of formalizing green building principles into all aspects of its infrastructure to achieve environmental, social and economic responsibility. In addition to conserving natural resources, reducing waste, supporting the local economy and providing healthy indoor environments, one of the VTA’s stated goals of these measures is cost savings. Green buildings are an estimated 30 percent more energy efficient than conventional construction.
“For any project with an overall budget of $100 million or greater, the Policy also requires the development and implementation of a Sustainability Plan,” Perez added. “The plan would designate a Sustainability Coordinator and include a description of green building features to be incorporated into the project, along with anticipated environmental and cost savings, including a calculated return on investment.”
Within the City of Santa Clara, a future project that will be directly impacted by the Green Building Policy is the BART Silicon Valley Phase II project. The project is a six-mile extension of rail including four stations designed to expand BART service from the Berryessa/North San Jose station through downtown San Jose and into Santa Clara. Phase II includes a five-mile tunnel, two ventilation facilities within the tunnel, a maintenance facility, storage yard, three underground stations in San Jose and an at-grade station in Santa Clara.
This past April, the VTA approved the Phase II Extension project and certified the Environmental Impact Report. The project, which qualifies for a sustainability coordinator, will include green features such as on-site renewable energy, recycled building materials and low-flow fixtures that will be incorporated into the Santa Clara station and maintenance facility. This new stretch of BART will be open for passenger service in 2026.
Throughout its infrastructure in Santa Clara County, VTA has implemented sustainability features such as solar panels at bus terminals, EV charging stations, low-flow plumbing equipment, solar-powered trash and recycling containers, transit platforms lit by natural light and water recycling. VTA has also repurposed cut trees into benches, retaining walls and mulch.