CUMTD becomes only transit provider in Illinois to earn environmental sustainability ISO certification

Champaign-Urbana MTD became the sixth transit provider in the country and the only transit provider in Illinois to earn certification for its environmental sustainability and management system to International Organization for Standardization standards last week.

The ISO 14001:2004 is a group of standards dealing specifically with environmental sustainability and management systems. It enables an organization to analyze, control and reduce the environmental impact of its activities, products and services, and operate with greater efficiency and control.

Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance Ltd, the world’s leading provider of independent assessment services, conducted the certification audit of MTD’s program.

“This certification means that our EMS program has been certified by an external auditor that looked at our system,” said Jane Sullivan, MTD sustainability and transportation planner. “They took a look to make sure the proper procedures were in place and that we were training our employees correctly.”

Sullivan said Lloyd’s personnel visited MTD to ensure that they were meeting state and local environmental regulations. The personnel visited and audited MTD’s maintenance facility and grounds that include a body shop, a fueling station, a bus wash, a machine shop, a tire shop and storage for parts and bus overflow.

“They made sure that we were conducting things in a way that was maintaining a safe and clean environment,” Sullivan said.

The certification process began in 2011 when MTD enrolled in the Federal Transit Administration’s ISO 14001 EMS Institute at Virginia Tech University.

MTD employees traveled to the EMS Institute where, the center, along with local, state and federal government facilities, taught and assisted MTD to implement the ISO standards.

“Some of our employees learned what it takes to create this system,” Sullivan said. “They were involved with writing procedures and then coming back here and training our other employees.”

She said she thinks the certification proves that MTD is committed to environmental sustainability and that the company is very serious about watching its environmental impact.

Many other environmental efforts are being taken beyond the certification. The most visible of these are the hybrid buses. As of January 2013, more than half of MTD’s 102 buses are hybrid.

Additionally, there are various policies and practices that MTD has implemented to reduce its environmental impact and increase its commitment to a greener existence.

“As an employee, I’m a big fan of (MTD’s) green practices,” MTD bus driver Stephanie Blunier said. “I think that they’re doing a lot and that their efforts go beyond the buses. They’re doing a lot in maintenance, and that’s where a lot of the environmental sustainability comes from.”

MTD Board Trustee Willard Broom, who was heavily involved with the certification by being a part of the reviewing and assessing process, said this can be seen as another example of MTD’s commitment to the highest standard of environmental stewardship and sustainability.

“It is another positive impact on the environment to make sure that we are doing as little possible to negatively impact it,” Broom said. “We are cutting costs with better business practices, and we are also using less resources … more efficiently.”

Julianne can be reached at [email protected]