Accomplishing Sustainability Through Employee Education

June 9, 2016

In April of 2015 SEPTA added the Tour of Sustainable Sites to the employee Learning Connection program. The SEPTA Learning Connection program not only supports SEPTA's social sustainability goal dedicated to creating a Highly Skilled, Healthy and Versatile Workforce but also provides the opportunity for employees to learn first-hand about SEPTA's sustainability development and achievements.

This tour, held approximately three times a year, brings employees from numerous departments to see sites pertaining to a variety of sustainable initiatives. Participants of the tour not only learn about existing practices, but also about how they can contribute to sustainability in their own positions.

The tour begins at SEPTA's headquarters where employees learn about the sustainability program, its goals, progress, and the importance of incorporating sustainability in SEPTA's day-to-day operations. Participants then learn about the SEPTA headquarter building's history, a number of its energy efficient practices, its waste management system, and other sustainable features, like cradle-to-cradle practices in the procurement of furniture and office supplies.

Next tour members visit Walnut Hill Community Farm, a SEPTA property adjacent to 46th Street Station that was leased to the Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation in 2010 and transformed a vacant lot into an urban farm. This farm incorporates several sustainable features, developed with help from SEPTA, including a greenhouse, a rainwater catchment system, and solar panels that meet all of the farm's energy demands. Here tour participants are able to see an example of SEPTA's commitment to social sustainability in the provision of green space, a park and community area, and local produce to members of the surrounding Walnut Hill neighborhood in West Philadelphia.

Walnut Hill Community Farm at 46th and Market Street

The tour also consists of a visit to the pilot site of SEPTA's Wayside Energy Storage Project at the Letterly Substation. Here participants learn about how SEPTA is able to improve its energy efficiency and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by harnessing, storing, and reusing regenerative braking energy on the Market- Frankford Line. Members are able to see this innovative technology first-hand and have the opportunity to ask questions to SEPTA engineers about this project and SEPTA's various energy systems.

The inside of Letterly Substation where the battery is located.

The last stop on the tour features a visit to a green roof at the 33rd and Dauphin Bus Loop facility. Participants are able to climb onto the green roof at this historic location and learn how this feature and other landscaping and design implementations help to capture rainwater and decrease runoff. The green stormwater features help to decrease the strain on Philadelphia's combined sewer-stormwater system during big storms assisting Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters initiative.

SEPTA employees on the green roof at 33rd and Dauphin Bus Loop

In addition to learning about and seeing first hand some of SEPTA's sustainable projects, employees have the chance to learn how to get more involved, come up with ideas of how they can incorporate sustainability in their own position or department and collaborate with employees from different departments.