Charlottesville Area Transit - Operations Center

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CAT Facility

Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) is the primary public transportation provider for the Charlottesville, Virginia region, providing municipal bus service to the City of Charlottesville and portions of the surrounding county of Albemarle. CAT and its new Operations Center are owned by the City of Charlottesville and its grant partner the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Development and construction of the Operations Center was managed by the City of Charlottesville’s Department of Public Works, Facilities Development Division. The CAT Operations Center was developed on 6 acres of land, just south of the City, purchased specifically for this purpose of constructing this facility.

CAT Operations Center Administration Building


LEED LogoThis entire project was designed and constructed following the guidelines of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) for new design and construction version 2.2. In August 2012, the USGBC determined the Charlottesville Area Transit Facility achieved the LEED Gold certification. This level of recognition is rare for a Transportation facility and, as of the date of this writing, the CAT Operation Center will be one of only 16 transportation-related developments in the world to earn this distinction.

Green Building Features:

  • Innovative stormwater quantity and quality control devices were implemented including 180,000 gallon underground storage for infiltration and treatment; several bio-filters; and harvested rainwater (roof runoff) for use in the bus wash and other parts of the facility.
  •  White roofing was installed to reduce heat gain in the facilities and immediate site; thus, lowering the energy requirement for the buildings.
  • Pavement was reduced where practical and light colored concrete was used to reduce heat island effect…reducing summer-time heat issues for workers in the bus lot, the cooling systems of the buildings, and in the larger local community.
  • Outdoor lighting was designed and installed to limit light pollution (the project meets the County’s “dark sky” policy) while providing acceptable levels of lighting for the required work at the site.
  • The large vehicle maintenance building was designed and situated so that workers can open the bay doors during hot summer days and take advantage of prevailing winds…this building remains comfortable nearly all days of the hot summer without AC. Water Efficiency: With water resources being an ongoing regional debate, ensuring water efficiency was a key project criteria.
  • Use of water efficient landscaping…all plant selections were native and hearty to the area; thus, requiring no irrigation.One of CAT's innovative stormwater management bio-filters
  • Harvested rainwater is collected from the roofs of the two largest buildings and is captured in a 48,000 gallon capacity underground cistern.
  • A significant portion of the water for the bus wash operation is cleaned and recycled graywater for use in subsequent bus washing.
  • Waterless urinals were installed in all men’s restrooms along with water-conserving toilets and faucets elsewhere…eliminating another 17,500 gallons (annually) in metered water purchase.
  • Where water is used for toilets and sinks, low-flow devices regulate amount used.
  • Without the water-saving measures listed above, the estimated annual usage for the facility would be 905,200 gallons of metered potable water. With the water-savings measures, the annual usage of potable metered water is 394,264 gallons…a 56% savings.
  • An innovative standing-column well geothermal system provides water-sourced heating and cooling for the two largest buildings. The system utilizes two wells; each over 1,000 feet deep.
  • Buildings were situated, and shading was designed, to passively take advantage of solar and prevailing wind conditions of the site.
  • All major mechanical systems of the buildings are controlled by a state-of-the-art building automation system so that set-points, run times, and peak load shedding can be centrally managed remotely by the City’s HVAC management team.
  • Fast-action doors were installed at the bus wash. During the cold seasons, the fabric doors are trigged to open when a bus approaches the wash bay, the door quickly opens allowing the bus to enter the wash bay, then quickly closes…maintaining more heat inside the wash bay.
  • All lighting systems utilize high efficiency light fixtures which are centrally controlled and feature occupancy/vacancy sensors, timed shut-off, and auto-dimming when sufficient daylight harvesting allows. The expansive use of day-lighting reduces the need for powered lighting in many employee work areas during most working hours.

Numerous steps were taken during the construction phase to measurably reduce use of materials and resources were undertaken including:

  • A recycling rate of construction debris that exceeded 90%Recycle Logo
  • Recycled content:
    • concrete used 6% recycled content
    • structural steel used 99% recycled content
    • pre-engineered steel used 32.3 % recycled content
    • hollow metal steel doors and frames used 26% recycled content
    • sectional bay doors used 37% recycled content
    • metal studs used 53% recycled content
    • wall insulation used 100% recycled content (shredded remnants of discard blue jeans)
    • ceiling insulation used 35% recycled content


CAT bus fueling building with bus wash building in background


CAT's automated vehicle access control system

Owner’s Project Manager: City of Charlottesville; Facilities Development Division, Public works
Owner’s On-Site Construction Manager: Piedmont Development Group; Charlottesville, VA
Owner’s 3rd Party Testing: Schnabel Engineering Associates; Charlottesville, VA
Owner’s Commissioning Agent: Advanced Building Performance; Potomac, MD
Architect: VMDO; Charlottesville, VA
General Contractor: W.M. Jordan Co., Inc.; Richmond, VA