Environmental Promise

How we're going green – take the ride with us

Our Planet-Friendly Plan

Download COTA’s 2021 Sustainability Report

Download COTA’s 2022 Sustainability Plan

At COTA, we believe public transportation is one of the original “Green” industries, and we are continually exploring options and approaches to help protect our environment.

In 2013, COTA made the commitment to move our entire fleet to compressed natural gas within 12 years. In the long term, COTA contributes to a healthy environment by:

  • Reviewing and making changes in operational practices and purchases
  • Incorporating sustainable design in construction projects

Making Our Fleet Greener

In 2013, we constructed a CNG fueling station at COTA’s McKinley Avenue Operations and Maintenance facility and began operating 30 new CNG buses. The McKinley Operations facility renovations included CNG-compatible modifications as part of a $76 million project.

Our transition from hybrid coaches and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel to compressed natural gas (CNG) continues today. We’re retiring our diesel-powered coaches, replacing them with the purchase of new CNG vehicles. This will require remodeling for CNG upgrades at several COTA facilities, along with a second CNG fueling station at the Fields Avenue Facility.

Creating a Smaller Footprint

  • Understanding Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
    • CNG is made by compressing natural gas to a fraction of its volume. This well-established technology captures a large share of the transportation market.
    • CNG, used in gasoline internal-combustion vehicles converted to alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), is delivered by high-pressure (up to 3,600 psi) compression and dispensing systems. CNG is stored in high-pressure cylinders on board buses.
  • Exploring the Benefits of CNG
    • Environmental
      • CNG buses meet EPA standards with little additional cost. CNG vehicles produce greenhouse gas emissions that are roughly 15-30 percent lower than gasoline or diesel-fueled buses.
      • CNG buses produce lower tailpipe emissions and greenhouse gases because methane is less carbon-rich than petroleum. Unlike gasoline, natural gas is non-toxic, non-corrosive and non-carcinogenic.
      • CNG exhaust emissions are much lower than gasoline and diesel vehicles. Evaporation, fueling and use emissions account for most of the environmental problems in gasoline powered buses while CNG-powered buses produce few of these emissions during fueling and use.
      • By replacing older gas-powered buses with CNG-powered buses, these reductions in exhaust emissions are possible:
        • Carbon monoxide (CO) by 70%–90%
        • Non-methane organic gas (NMOG) by 50%–75%
        • Nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 75%–95%
        • Carbon dioxide (CO2) by 20%–30%
      • According to the Energy Information Administration, nearly all of the natural gas used in America comes primarily from domestic sources. Natural gas accounts for approximately one quarter of the energy used in the US.
      • Compared with gasoline and diesel vehicles, natural gas vehicles produce significantly lower carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, non-methane hydrocarbon, particulate matter and other toxic emissions, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, because CNG fuel systems are completely sealed, CNG vehicles produce no evaporation emissions.
      • CNG is safe. Natural gas vehicles meet the same safety standards as gasoline and diesel vehicles as set by the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) NFPA 52 Vehicular Fuel System Code.
      • Natural gas has a narrow flammability range and, because it is lighter than air, dissipates quickly if released. NGV fuel tanks are strong and extremely puncture resistant.
    • Economic
      • In Ohio, CNG fuel generally costs anywhere from 20-60% less than petroleum fuels which will result in substantial savings to COTA over the long term.

Your Bike Can Go Where COTA Goes

Biking is not only good for the environment, it also offers the health benefits of exercise, stress reduction and cleaner air quality. COTA supports bike commuting with our Bike & Bus program, which allows cyclist to combine modes of transportation.

Learn How to Ride with Your Bike

How Were Reducing Waste

At COTA, we collect rainwater and filter it to wash our buses every night. We also collect water in a retention pond outside the COTA Mobility Station, allowing it to flow into two underground 15,000-gallon tanks before we reuse it in our washing stations or in COTA facility toilets.

  • The Fields Avenue Maintenance Facility, a LEED-certified building, has eco-friendly siding and energy efficient windows. Some of our shelters use solar light and COTA strives to use environmentally friendly design in our construction sites.
  • After bus oil changes, most oil is sold to a distributor, who filters the oil for future use. Any leftover oil can be used to heat COTA’s Mobility Station. 
  • Recycling fuel and water saves COTA thousands of dollars and makes sense environmentally.
  • Whenever possible, we buy recycled products, Energy Star appliances, occupational sensors, water-based paint and cleaners. All landscaping is conservation-based.
  • COTA recycles paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, aluminum, fluorescent lights, ink cartridges, steel scrap, aluminum body panels, oil, antifreeze and transmission fluids, steel drums, aerosol cans, yard waste, wooden pallets, cell phones, computers, batteries and tires.

Putting Our Future in the Green

COTA participates in these Green Initiatives:

  • SWACO’s Roundtable
  • Clean Fuels Ohio
  • MORPC’s Energy and Environment, Energy and Air Quality and Sustainable Growth Committees

Investing in a Greener Tomorrow

Green building guidelines help everyone by lowering water and energy consumption, improving air quality and using resources wisely. COTA invests in the health and sustainability of central Ohio through Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The LEED program is nationally recognized for stringent design guidelines by the U.S. Green Building Council, and encourages the development of environmentally-friendly buildings. 

LEED certifies new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, homes and neighborhood developments.

There are 148 LEED Certified Buildings in Ohio, and of those 51 are Gold Certified. In Franklin County there are seven LEED Gold Certified Buildings, and COTA’s Fields Avenue Facility is one of them.

Other COTA LEED Certified Buildings include:

  • Mobility Services facility construction (LEED Silver Certification)
  • McKinley Operations facility renovations (Pursuing LEED Certification)
  • William J. Lhota Building renovations (LEED Silver Certification)
  • Essex facility renovations (Pursuing LEED Certification)
  • Fields Operations facility renovations (LEED Gold Certification)

Caring for the Environment

Our Sustainability Commitment

The most important role COTA can play in sustainability is to create a world-class transit system that our customers love. COTA strives to be a mobility solutions provider that is functional and reliable for our core customers, as well as a compelling mobility option for customers who do not rely exclusively on COTA to move throughout Central Ohio.

From current initiatives to future-forward goals, COTA plans to move forward with a series of major sustainability concepts:

  • Support the overall regional economy through effective and efficient operations
  • Promote economic opportunity, particularly for community residents with limited opportunity to fully participate in our region’s growth and success
  • Sustain the social fabric of our region by promoting opportunities for new connections among residents, which includes New Americans and newcomers to our community
  • Enhance the natural environment by taking measures to improve public health, enhance the quality of life and become better stewards of our natural resources

Environmental Excellence

COTA’s sustainability efforts by the numbers:

  • 65% of COTA’s fleet are low-emission vehicles
  • 10 electric buses will be purchased in 2022
  • 28 CNG buses added per year to be diesel free by 2025
  • 7.9 tons of cardboard recycled
  • 75.9 tons of scrap metal recycled
  • 3.2 million gallons of water saved per year