For many passengers, the Warm Springs station has been greatly anticipated. Construction first began in 2011 and was only expected to take three and a half years to complete. Six years later, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) opened its station doors to the public to show off its impressive features. With solar panels, reusable resources and allocated cycle lines, this is one of the greenest stations in the world and BART’s greenest station to date. Warm Springs challenges the environmental impacts of traditional building styles and looks at energy efficiency, runoff water retention, effects on wildlife, and other environmental aspects in a whole new way.
The station is more than just architectural genius, its entire design has been carefully guided by sustainability, accessibility and passenger use.
“This project is quite a personal endeavor for our team,” said Paul Medved, Group and Project Manager for Warm Springs since 2000. “A mentality of sustainability is part of a culture that doesn’t just happen on its own.”
For David Silva, Principal Engineer overseeing construction on-site, the motivation goes back to growing up in Fremont. “I remember seeing the map with the ‘dot-dot-dot’ going South when I was very young, so I was thrilled when I got to work on this project. I remember looking out when it was all just gladiola fields, and my Dad telling me, ‘This is all going to change some day.’’
While you are on the upper level of the station, especially in the summer, you might also notice one of the most prominent sustainable features of the station: its harnessing and use of solar energy.
Sparkly, blue panels sit atop the station concourse roof and PV canopies provide shade for parked automobiles in the scorching summer in the South and North parking lots. These panels are expected to provide enough energy to meet the station’s daytime energy needs (i.e. lights, escalators, elevators, etc.).
As part of an ongoing sustainability effort, the station will also provide 42 charging stations for electric vehicles, paid for in part by a grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. (Charging stations will open in the next few weeks).
At Warm Springs, there is true multimodal access - not just a drive-up lane stuck on the side. There is a pattern for safe and orderly flow of pedestrians, bicycles, buses, clearly marked features for people with disabilities, such as centrally located sets of elevators, and much more.
The station has wide, green lanes for bicycles only that lead to parking in electronic lockers or on racks on the bottom level. There are also racks to secure bicycles on the upper level of the station.
“Access is huge, and historically, transit systems have not always done it right,” Medved said.
Recycled tire aggregate (TDA) is a process in which used tires are ground up and used as a shock absorber for the train tracks, which diverted 130,000 used tires from the landfill and were able to be used to reduce track vibration.
An ambitious Warm Springs Opportunities Report published in 2010 listed dozens of categories where environmentally sustainable practices could be used, along with their benefits, and a matrix to keep track of the status. One of the opportunities was using the station design “to inform the public of a valuable lesson in environmental stewardship provided by the history of Warm Springs.”
The report continued: “The abundant hot springs that gave the place its name spawned a popular resort in the mid-19th century. When the aquifers in the area that also supported vast wheat fields after the Gold Rush were exploited and depleted in the 1920s, there was massive unemployment, bankruptcies and dislocation. The station design should make use of this historic calamity to educate the public about the importance of sound environmental management.”
“Another dimension to sustainability is sharing and passing on what has been successful,” Medved said. “The most important thing was embedding sustainability in our mentality from the beginning. If you can accomplish that, the rest is just a bunch of details.”
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