Another Philly First: USGBC Recognizes Fox Chase Station

August 19, 2011

America's First LEED Silver Certification for a Railroad Station

On August 1, SEPTA received official word: its new Fox Chase Station building had been awarded a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) "Silver" award for New Construction by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The new station building is America's first railroad station to receive USGBC's LEED Silver designation.

What is LEED? It is a grading system to measure a building's impact on the environment. For new construction, points are accrued based on a number of decisions made during the project development process. The six major environmental categories of review include: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation and Design. Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels of LEED green building certification are awarded based on the total number of points earned within each LEED category.

Fox Chase, a $1.1 million project funded through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, was designed at the "Silver" level. The aesthetically pleasing station, with Fox Chase proudly chiseled in the station's stonework, boasts a new ticket office, canopies, benches and signage and enhancements to ramps, railings and a restroom to further the station's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The work, which began in fall 2009, was completed in May. The station remained open throughout the construction period.

Newly Renovated Fox Chase Station

The building's LEED Silver certification recognizes the soup-to-nuts approach to environmentally-friendly design and construction that SEPTA took to the project. For example:

  • The project was designed to use 30 percent less energy than a comparable code compliant building
  • High-efficiency plumbing fixtures and faucets reduce potable water use by 20 percent (100,000 gallons per year)
  • 96 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills (either recycled or reused)
  • 100 percent of the wood used in the project was certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council which promotes sustainable timber harvesting
  • 40 percent of all cement used in the project was replaced with slag and/or fly ash concrete, increasing durability and saving 33 tons of raw materials, 150 MBTU of energy, and 33 tons of greenhouse gas emissions
  • 40 percent of all building products were extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the project site
  • Renewable energy credits (RECs) were procured to ensure that 100 percent of energy used at the station is replaced on the electric grid by renewable sources
  • Light-colored surfaces were used to help reflect sunlight, keeping surfaces cool while reducing the urban heat island effect
  • An indoor air quality management program was followed during construction to keep the ventilation system free from dust and debris
  • Adhesives, sealants, paint and coatings used at the station contain little or no volatile organic compounds, which have a negative impact on air quality and respiratory health

On top of these sustainable design and construction elements, Fox Chase Station earned points from LEED simply for being what it is: a transit hub that adds value to its surrounding area by providing integrated and accessible alternative public transportation options. (Click here for a graphical depiction of the project's LEED features.)

All told, the new Fox Chase Station is a more energy efficient and aesthetically pleasing facility that has become a source of pride for the Fox Chase community. And for SEPTA, there is an additional benefit - a bottom-line benefit, from lower utility bills (reduced energy and water consumption) and maintenance costs (more durable materials).

Through its sustainability program plan, SEPTA will now turn to tracking these performance indicators to measure the project's return on its investment and identify opportunities for continual improvement. Over time, these sources of anticipated economic value will instruct the cost-effectiveness of expanding environmentally friendly practices and procedures for future design and construction projects.

In the meantime, Fox Chase represents a bold statement to the region and industry - a public pillar of SEPTA's firm commitment to sustainability. In a "city of firsts," SEPTA has added another - and another step towards Philadelphia's goal to become the greenest city in America by 2015.

Summary of SEPTA's LEED Points

LEED Scorecard Points Awarded
Sustainable Sites 18
Water Efficiency 4
Energy & Atmosphere 10
Materials & Resources 6
Indoor Environmental Quality 9
Innovation in Design 6
Certified 40-49
Silver 50-59
Gold 60-79
Platinum 80+

Source: USGBC (Click here for LEED Certified Project Directory)