Make Every Day Earth Day

Earth Day, April 22, 2011

We here at SDOT strive to incorporate the tenets of Earth Day into our work throughout the year.  We lessen the load on the planet through simple actions – by keeping sediments out of storm drains and protecting our waterways, by protecting tress, by using green paving materials, and by reducing fuel use.  And we continually work to make it easier for Seattleites to be green too by improving our transportation infrastructure to make walking, biking, and riding transit the easiest way to get around town. 

SDOT’s Environmental Management System, known as GreenDOT, continually works to catalog significant environmental impacts of our work and identify steps to reduce those impacts and create more sustainable operations.  Our commitment to the environment means we aim to go beyond basic compliance with environmental rules and increase sustainability. 

We make an effort to drive less, drive lite (by using the greenest, most fuel efficient vehicle available), and drive wisely (by eliminating idling, by planning our routes, and by reducing our loads).  From January to August 2010, SDOT employees used 16,233 fewer gallons of fuel than for the same period in 2009.  This translates to an 8.98 percent reduction in fuel use, the prevention of 379,000 pounds of carbon dioxide going into the air, and a saving of $52,824.  Our goal is to further reduce our fuel use by more than 13,000 gallons in 2011. 

A carbon footprint analysis for SDOT showed that 88 percent of the department’s greenhouse gas emissions result from the use of concrete and asphalt.  By maximizing our use of green paving materials we have the potential to reduce of 2,000 tons of carbon a year.  That’s the equivalent to the carbon dioxide released by 320 passenger cars over the course of a year, or over one million ten-pound bags of charcoal (elemental carbon) on the ground instead of the air.  That’s why SDOT is now requiring that all sidewalk jobs be installed with green concrete.  We also use green concrete whenever feasible on our roadway improvement projects. 

We aim to increase the tree canopy in our city and we will plant more than 800 street trees per year including more than 450 bare root trees this spring alone to achieve that goal.  Trees re-absorb carbon dioxide out of the air.  They can help reduce energy needs, by cooling homes in summer and blocking cold winds in the winter. They capture storm water and filter dust and dirt from the sky.

SDOT’s multi-modal programs seek to make walking, biking, and riding transit your first choice for transportation.  Every year we add more sidewalks, bike lanes, and transit improvements to our transportation network.  Through the Walk Bike Ride Initiative, our Pedestrian Program continually improves safety for walkers, our Bicycle Program provides new bicycle facilities, and our Transit Program works to make our streets work better for buses and trains.  All of this work is part of our effort to make Seattle more walkable, bikable, transit-friendly and to reduce dependence on the automobile for all trips.     

These are but a few examples of what we’re doing to make Earth Day part of our work throughout the year.  Add your personal pledge to the billions of others’ by going to http://act.earthday.org/.

Make every day Earth Day to ensure that Seattle and the Puget Sound remain incredibly beautiful and healthy for future generations