Posts Tagged ‘energy efficiency’

Switching Things Up for Winter Operations

December 19th, 2016 5 comments

With the impending colder weather, Metro is piloting some new track equipment to fight the snow and ice and maintain overground rail service.

Snow on tracks at Twinbrook Station

Snow on a track switch at Twinbrook Station

As a pilot project funded through Metro’s Sustainability Lab, we have replaced the switch heaters at Glenmont Yard with a new energy efficient heater that not only reduces energy consumption, but is also easier to install and maintain.

Switch heaters are vital to winter operations, providing radiant heat to track switches to prevent them from icing up and restricting train movements. Within the Metrorail system, each rail yard controls its heaters on an individual basis, and heaters are frequently in constant operation during the winter to allow tracks to remain operational.

Glenmont is Metro’s smallest yard and also has one of Metro’s more expensive electricity rates, so it was an ideal candidate to pilot the new heaters. Should testing prove successful this winter, we could adopt this new style of switch heater as standard across 58 miles of surface revenue track and 8 Metrorail yards.  This could save Metro over $110,000 annually in energy costs.

Each year the Sustainability Lab tests out new ideas such as these switch heaters for large-scale deployment, and we would love to have your help in finding ways to reduce resource consumption and improve service. Whatever the idea, we’d love to hear your thoughts and consider them.

So help us think big! Submit your ideas online or email them to planning@wmata.com.

Metro is Rebuilding More Sustainably

April 22nd, 2016 No comments

As Earth Day approaches, we’ve documented the strong foundation of sustainable practices at Metro in our newly updated Sustainability Report.

Metro has launched a rebuilding and service campaign that is aimed to bring riders back to Metro by providing safe effective and reliable service. Because service is one of the biggest sustainability benefits transit provides, rebuilding its ridership will help the authority reach the regional ridership, climate change and connected communities goals as outlined in Metro’s Sustainability Initiative.

Metro’s annual sustainability report provides a rare view into Metro’s efforts to achieve the sustainability goals it set for itself – reporting on successes and setbacks alike. The past and future projects list under each target reads like an encyclopedia of transit agency best practices from testing energy efficient switch heaters to designing pedestrian accessible stations.

Rebuilding sustainably where possible will help Metro achieve long term financial savings while creating a cleaner, more modern, safer, and more reliable system. These investments will help Metro on it’s trajectory to reach its ambitious but achievable sustainability targets. To read more about Metro’s achievements to date and upcoming projects, check out Metro’s 2016 Annual Sustainability Report.

Tell us what you think of Metro’s sustainability efforts. We are always listening to new ideas for potential projects. Submit your ideas online or email them to planning@wmata.com.

 

Battery Storage Technology Demonstration Gets Federal Seal of Approval

March 15th, 2016 1 comment

After successfully testing a battery at West Falls Church, Metro is looking into more ways of re-capturing braking energy from trains. This could save operating costs and improve environmental sustainability, too.

FTA Visit to Battery Storage Pilot at West Falls Church

FTA Visit to WMATA Battery Storage Pilot at West Falls Church

Metro spends approximately $50 million each year on electricity to move our riders and railcars around the system. Last month, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released a final report they commissioned Metro to conduct on technology to capture excess energy from regenerative braking through energy storage. The project was conducted by Metro and Kawasaki Heavy Rail Inc. at Metro’s West Falls Church substation as a “proof of concept” test of nickel-metal hydride battery technology as a storage media to capture otherwise wasted railcar braking energy from the direct current third rail.

Although the battery is headed back to Kawasaki, the demonstration was a success.  We learned how the technology could work with our infrastructure, and how the battery technology supports the asset management, safety and resource efficiency work of the FTA’s Office of Research, Innovation and Demonstration in the following areas:

  1. Energy savings of approximately $100,000-200,000 that can reduce transit agencies’ utility consumption and peak power demand charges.
  2. Voltage support to reduce line loss on the third-rail power distribution network. In particular, this offers significant benefits to system performance between traction power substations (fed from the local utility) providing a more efficient energy transfer to railcars.
  3. Emergency power support to move stationary railcars to safe access points in the event of a power outage from the local utility.
  4. Augmenting existing traction power substations to support revenue service during maintenance downtime, and/or enhancing power supply as part of traction power upgrades to support better service such as Metro’s 100% 8-car train expansion.

Metro is now analyzing of how battery technology could be scaled more widely throughout the system. As part of this process, Metro’s engineers are monitoring the results of similar energy storage/energy saving projects that have been undertaken by peer transit agencies such as the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and London Underground.

As the cost of battery storage media such as nickel-metal hydride and similar lithium ion technology continues to fall, the economic benefits to rail transit will continue to grow. With the publication of this final report, Metro’s engineers’ commitment to strategic federal research provides a tangible example of how the Authority can support emerging technology as part of an investment in cost-effective new technology, and efficiently manage operating expenses.

Metro Shines a Light on Sustainability – and Wants Your Bright Ideas!

February 9th, 2015 6 comments

New garage lighting initiative demonstrates the power of innovative thinking (and partnerships)

Huntington South Garage Before and After

Huntington South Garage Before and After

Last spring you read about Metro’s initiative to replace 13,500 light fixtures with high-efficiency light-emitting diode (LED) lights.  This investment would brighten and make safer Metro’s garages while cutting energy costs by utilizing state-of-the art lighting, monitoring, motion-sensing, and remote management technology.

Good news – Metro has completed the first set of installations at our Huntington garage and is rolling this technology out to the remainder of our structured parking facilities.  Check out a video of the project underway!

Notably, this initiative is the product of a private partnership with Phillips and the launch of innovative performance-based contracting at WMATA.  Philips self-financed and is installing, and maintaining the lighting system for 10 years. In return, WMATA makes pre-set “service” payments only if Philips can produce the energy savings they have guaranteed. WMATA will continue to pay the energy bills for lighting in the garages, but because the garages cost less to light, Phillips can get paid out of the cost savings over the 10-year contract cycle. Read more…

Metro Finds New Ways to Save the Bay

December 17th, 2014 No comments

Largo Stormwater Treatment Facility

Largo Stormwater Treatment Facility

Metro’s new Largo stormwater facility is making progress towards the Authority’s sustainability goals including reduced water and energy use, carbon emissions, and operating costs.

On November 13, Metro hosted a tour of its high-efficiency stormwater treatment facility at Largo. Highlighted during its design phase in a previous post on Metro’s Sustainability Agenda. The facility is now fully functional – with a green roof and solar panels that create enough energy to run the plant round the clock. “With a truly innovative design, this facility provides a green and cost effective model for organizations in the region as they make investments in similar facilities” according to Metro’s sustainability manager, Rachel Healy. The open house provided an opportunity for interested regional stakeholders to tour all of the facilities uniquely practical design in operation. Representatives from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Maryland Department of the Environment, Environmental Protection Agency, and Prince George’s County Council were in attendance.

Designed to ensure Metro meets stricter new discharge permit requirements that form part of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, the facility pumps an estimated 27,000 gallons of water per day from Metrorail tunnels near the Largo Town Center Station. The new state of the art facility houses a unique combination of features designed to reduce energy consumption and continue Metro’s commitment to invest in sustainability and reduce operating costs.

Instead of using more traditional heavy duty water pumps that have a high energy consumption and operating cost, the new Largo facility features a combination of gravity-fed treatment tanks and a high-efficiency mixing system that uses bubbles of compressed air to “circulate” the water. On the roof, solar panels supply extra electricity back to grid during the day and the building only draws grid power at night or during extended periods of low sunlight.  Metro will prevent an estimated 3 tons of C02 emissions per year through solar energy generation alone. This is the equivalent of half the emissions from an average homes electric use over the same period.

The Largo treatment facility showcases the dedication of Metro’s engineers and design staff in developing what is truly a cutting edge facility to meet State requirements and deliver ongoing operating savings for the Authority. Check out Metro’s video of the project and let us know what you think.

Energy Efficient Station Chiller Upgrades

May 15th, 2014 2 comments

Chiller Plant at Navy Yard-Ballpark

Chiller Plant at Navy Yard-Ballpark

Each year as warmer weather approaches, Metro shifts priority from snow and ice removal to the cooling of Metrorail stations. In May, chiller plants throughout the Authority are started up, feeding chilled water to air conditioning equipment located in the stations. Though the design of the Metrorail system makes true air conditioning impossible, a reduction of station air temperatures is intended to provide some comfort while waiting for your train.

Some stations share chillers, such as Court House and Clarendon on the Orange Line, while other larger stations have two chillers, such as L’Enfant Plaza. Typical system sizes are around 350 tons. This is not a measure of the systems weight; instead chiller performance is defined in terms of tons of cooling, where one ton of cooling is equal to the amount of heat absorbed by one ton of ice melting in one day.

As part of Metro’s sustainability efforts, upgrades to chiller plant equipment consists of replacing old systems that have reached or exceeded their anticipated life with more modern, energy-efficient units. The new chillers feature oil-free operation, variable-speed magnetic-bearing compressors, and variable-frequency drives.

Two such chiller plant replacements were installed last year serving U Street and Navy Yard-Ballpark stations. With their smaller footprint, lower vibration, and operating sound levels, the units are proving not only more cost efficient but are also providing an overall improvement to operations. The result of the modernization is savings estimated at $15,000 annually per plant in energy costs alone. Additionally, when coupled with related upgrades to electronic controls and water treatment systems being piloted, the savings are expected to be increased in terms of reductions in both operating cost and water consumption. In 2014, chiller upgrades are proposed for Forest Glen, Wheaton, Crystal City, and Potomac Ave stations.

To reduce operating costs and improve efficiency, Metro’s facilities and fleet are actively striving to become more energy efficient. As part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative, the Authority has set a target of a 15% reduction in authority-wide energy use per vehicle mile by 2025.

This post forms part of a series featuring content from Metro’s Sustainability Agenda, part of Metro’s Sustainability Initiative.