Sustainability in Action

Caltrain is committed to incorporating sustainability in its standard operating procedures, programs and initiatives. This is a continuous improvement process – here are some examples of Caltrain’s accomplishments so far.

Caltrain Electrification
The Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project will convert Caltrain’s diesel operations to an electric system starting in 2020, which will dramatically reduce operational greenhouse gas emissions, reduce engine noise, and help improve local and regional air quality all while increasing service and capacity for Caltrain customers. Learn more  about Caltrain Electrification.

Wayside Power
Wayside power or “hotel power” allows Caltrain to plug into electricity during key maintenance activities to minimize diesel fuel consumption and idling emissions. Caltrain currently has wayside power at its Central Equipment Maintenance and Operations Facility and the San Francisco, San Jose Diridon and Gilroy stations.

Storm Water Program
Storm water can collect and transport trash, chemicals and oil to San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Join the many Caltrain customers who help make sure that our waterways stay clean.

Central Equipment Maintenance and Operations Facility
At CEMOF, the maintenance team recycles oils and lubricants, and the train wash system recycles 80 percent of the water used. CEMOF also has on-site wheel-truing and fueling facilities to reduce the frequency of shipments of these materials.

Caltrain Stations

Waste Management. Caltrain offers waste bins for recyclables, compostables/food waste, and trash at all stations. For details on Caltrain’s waste management practices, please click HERE.

Water Conservation. Caltrain conserves water at stations by using “smart” irrigation controllers that adjust watering schedules based on local temperature and rainfall. Caltrain also uses drought-tolerant vegetation in new plantings wherever possible, and covers plant beds with mulch to reduce evaporation of water. 


Facilities Maintenance

Energy. The District upgraded fluorescent light bulbs from T12 to more efficient T8 models, and is currently testing LEDs in offices and parking structures. In addition, occupancy sensors turn off lights in primary conference rooms and employees practice a last-out-lights-out policy everywhere else.

Water. Water conserving faucet aerators in the administrative office bathrooms and kitchenettes reduce water use by 25-40 percent per faucet. Save Our Water signage in bathrooms, kitchenettes, and showers reminds employees to be more mindful of water use and provides water-saving tips. As part of its drought water conservation efforts, in May 2015 the District significantly reduced landscape irrigation at administrative buildings, CEMOF, and Caltrain stations where appropriate.

Overall, the District's water conservation efforts in landscape irrigation, indoor plumbing fixtures, and employee and public outreach have reduced Caltrain water use by 36 percent in FY2016 compared to the state drought baseline year of 2013. 

Waste. In partnership with Recology San Mateo County, the District introduced food-waste composting service and upgraded waste bins and signage at its Central administrative office. The project was developed by a cross-departmental task force in collaboration with Facilities and janitorial staff, and includes ongoing training for employees to ensure proper use of the compost/recycle/landfill system. Compared to 2014, the District has reduced Central’s landfill waste 30 percent (for a total diversion rate of 70 percent), all while saving 15 percent on garbage bills. For these achievements, the District was awarded a BizSMART@Work Award in 2015 (read more about it HERE).

Green Janitorial Practices. The District’s janitorial staff uses green cleaning supplies and stocks restrooms with recycled paper products.


Business Practices

Community Choice Energy. The District is participating in three Community Choice Energy programs launching in 2016-2017: CleanPowerSFPeninsula Clean Energy, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy. These programs provide Caltrain facilities with electricity from more renewable sources like solar, wind, geothermal, and small hydropower - all while delivered on the same Pacific Gas & Electric poles and wires. At no additional cost, Caltrain's power will be nearly 10 percent less carbon-intensive, making our transit services even more sustainable.  

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy. The District’s EPP Policy guides environmental considerations in the District’s contracting and procurement processes. For more information, please click HERE

Capital Budget Evaluation. During the annual capital project budget evaluation process, projects receive additional points if they meet certain sustainability criteria. This helps inform the prioritization of capital projects for funding.

Paper Reduction. District printers default to double-sided printing, and conference rooms are equipped with computers and monitors for viewing documents during meetings to reduce the need for printed handouts. The District uses 100 percent post-consumer recycled content paper in its high-volume printers and 30 percent recycled and/or Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper elsewhere.

E-waste. Electronic waste, such as used computers, monitors, keyboards, and printer cartridges, is collected by a CalRecycle approved e-waste collector to be refurbished and reused where possible, or otherwise recycled at certified in-state recycling facilities.



65 Percent Renewable Electricity System-Wide
By summer 2017, Caltrain's electricity usage will be 65 percent renewable and 79 percent greenhouse gas emission-free, system-wide. Caltrain will be reducing its carbon footprint from electricity use by 20 percent, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 150 cars or 75 homes. On March 2, 2017, the Caltrain Board of Directors voted to expand the agency's use of renewable electricity by partnering with three Community Choice Energy Programs (CleanPowerSF in the City and County of San Francisco, Peninsula Clean Energy in San Mateo County, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy in portions of Santa Clara County) and two municipal utilities (City of Palo Alto Utilities and Silicon Valley Power in City of Santa Clara). These providers will supply 100 percent renewable power from sources such as solar, wind, and small hydroelectric. These providers were chosen based on their reliability, cost, environmental benefits, administrative procedures, and compatibility with future Caltrain operations. The electricity will still be delivered in partnership with PG&E on PG&E's infrastructure and supported by PG&E's billing and customer service. The remainder of Caltrain's electricity meters are in locations where Community Choice Energy Programs and municipal utilities do not currently have jurisdiction. For more information, please see the Board presentation and press release.

Resiliency and Sea Level Rise
The District has partnered with Sea Change San Mateo County to assess sea level rise vulnerabilities and adaptation options for key District facilities.

Earth Day
The District celebrates Earth Day each April with public and employee events. Past and planned events include a sustainable scavenger hunt, a tour of the Shoreway Recycling Center and Transfer Station, and brownbag presentations by the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency and Sustainable San Mateo County. In addition, electronic message signs at Caltrain stations displayed the message “Every Day Is Earth Day When You Ride Caltrain.

Dump the Pump Day
Each June the District joins the American Public Transportation Association and public transportation systems across the country in celebration of National Dump the Pump Day, which encourages people to ride public transportation instead of driving to save money – and also reduce their carbon footprint. For more information, please click HERE