Sustainable travel as the destination
Sustainability is an integral part of VIA Rail’s strategic plan which prioritizes safe, accessible, efficient, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly passenger rail service. As part of its vision to be the smarter way to move people, VIA Rail embeds environmental, social, economic, and ethical considerations into its strategy and everyday operations. Making sustainable choices when it comes to building management contributes to VIA Rail’s lasting success.
For the Ottawa station, VIA Rail placed its commitment to improve the quality of its clientele’s experience at the centre of the renovation project. However, in a high-volume station like Ottawa’s, an obvious challenge to any renovation projects would be not to interrupt operations and keep premises secure for travellers. While the station underwent important renovations from 2016 to 2019 to enhance its environmental performance and accessibility, the LEED certification process for this pilot station didn’t start until 2019.
As a globally recognized green building rating system and a symbol of excellence, VIA Rail entrusted the rigorous process behind the LEED certification to ensure their flagship station reflected the Corporation’s sustainability goals. Initially, the VIA Rail team expected the process would be complex and daunting. However, they were pleasantly surprised by the overall ease of the certification process, the availability of comprehensive tools, resources, and pathways to certification.
Using LEED’s policies and best practices, VIA Rail was able to identify further areas of improvement. Those insights resulted in the implementation of the Corporation’s Facility Renovation and Maintenance Policy, Green Cleaning Policy and Purchasing Policy. The Corporation was also able to identify energy reduction measures through the required detailed energy audits.
“The certification process allowed us to identify several opportunities to improve the efficiency of the station’s operations, which then led to the implementation of changes to our building management processes and practices,” said Dominique Lemay, Chief Operating Officer. “Ultimately, our goal is not only to enhance the travel experience, but also to go further together. And it is by modernizing our infrastructure and services, and by making them greener, that we will lead Canadians to a more sustainable future.”
The station also earned Transportation Performance credits for its convenient location. The Ottawa station connects VIA Rail’s passengers with other environmentally friendly travel options available in the National Capital Region, such as OC Transport light rail, bus services and bicycle access pathways in the warmer months. This allows commuters and visitors alike to access downtown Ottawa and Parliament Hill from virtually anywhere in the Corridor with ease.