COTA – Sustainability and Decarbonization Plan
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA)’s mission is to “provide solutions that connect people to prosperity through innovation, education, and teamwork”. COTA, already on a path to reduce its fleet emissions, began witnessing many key Central Ohio organizations and entities beginning commitments to sustainability. Key among these commitments was access to public transit to reduce their own carbon footprints. This reenforced COTA’s drive to embrace its role in the coming transition to a more equitable world.
COTA decided to develop a sustainability plan to establish clear goals for environmental, financial, and social sustainability that would center around equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). COTA recognized that another critical component of a successful plan would require a deep technical understanding of the impact of fleet decarbonization and the associated economics.
In reviewing COTA’s request, Go’s reaction was three-fold:
COTA’s approach to sustainability is critical to the long-term sustainability of every organization in Central Ohio. As COTA decarbonizes its operations, COTA reduces the Scope 3 emissions for all stakeholders, especially as the community looks at public transit as a solution for reducing emissions associated with their business and employee transit needs.
How COTA approaches decarbonization and the accompanying infrastructure, economics, logistics, etc. is critical to progress. Go’s expertise on energy use and electric grid-interactivity would be critical to this project and the resulting plan.
COTA’s pursuit of these initiatives will serve as a new and powerful vision of the future of transportation within central Ohio, allowing COTA to “move every life forward”. COTA’s fleet and facilities improve the lives of all citizens, who are impacted by their locations, routes, amenities, ease of access, energy use, image, etc.
We added Blue CSR strategies to our team to bring real-world expertise in sustainability, corporate responsibility, organizational development, communications, diversity & inclusion and community & governmental affairs. Over about six months, we met with COTA internal and external stakeholders, performed literature reviews, absorbed the content of foundational documents from regional stakeholder entities, collected and analyzed data, and finally delivered the plan to COTA’s team, who generated this public-facing plan document, addressing the following major pillars:
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)
Emissions – Greenhouse Gas and Pollution
Resiliency and Business Continuity
With the plan established, COTA is working to follow the plan and act on each major pillar. Within the realm of emissions, COTA has been operating two battery electric busses (BEBs) during 2022 and will continue to add BEBs and their fueling infrastructure for the foreseeable future as the last diesel busses are retired. COTA, Go, and other stakeholders are studying the real technical, logistic, and economic barriers and opportunities of on-site and on-route charging, the intertie of bus energy use and renewable energy, energy use at COTA’s facilities, etc.
In 2022, COTA was recognized as a “Champion of the Challenge” by the Federal Transit Administration for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The central Ohio region should be proud!
Decarbonization Plan Developer