California High-Speed Rail Program

The photo highlights work that is underway on the signature arches that will serve as the high-speed rail gateway to Fresno & Madera counties.

The California High-Speed Rail Program Earns an Envision Platinum Award

The California high-speed rail program is the largest transportation program both in terms of capital investment and geographic area to earn an Envision award for sustainable infrastructure to date. The Platinum Envision award achieved by the California High-Speed Rail (Authority) and its program partners demonstrates that sustainability is achievable across large-scale and complex transportation systems.

The California high-speed rail system will change the way Californians travel throughout the state by offering a cleaner and more sustainable transportation alternative. The purpose of the high-speed rail system is to serve as the backbone of a safe, fast and reliable high-speed electrified train network that will connect the megaregions of the state, contribute to economic development and a cleaner environment, create jobs and preserve agricultural and protected lands.

When completed, California high-speed rail will run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours at speeds capable of exceeding 200 miles per hour. The system will eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego, totaling 800 miles with up to 24 stations. In addition, the Authority is working with regional partners to implement a statewide rail modernization plan that will invest billions of dollars in local and regional rail lines to meet the state’s 21st century transportation needs. This system will also relieve capacity constraints at commercial airports and the statewide-highway network.


Net reduction in air pollution emissions during system operations compared to the baseline (the existing systems the high-speed rail system will replace), and eliminating pollutant sources in the design of the system.

More than 100,000,000 MTCO2e greenhouse gas emissions reduced due to mode shift from automobiles and planes.

Exceptional performance in achieving greenhouse gas emissions reductions and preparing for climate change by:

  • Improving Safety and Access to Alternative Modes of Transportation
  • Preserving Views and Local Character
  • Providing Ample Opportunities for Stakeholder Involvement
  • Achieving net-zero tailpipe GHG emissions during construction through carbon sequestration projects
  • Including electric vehicle charging and hydrogen-fueling infrastructure at rail stations
  • Reducing heat island effects by implementing vegetative shading, green roofs, and choosing materials with high SRI values at all rail stations and operations and maintenance facilities
  • Conducting a comprehensive, multi-hazard climate change risk and resilience evaluation

Leadership and commitment to sustainability and social equity and justice: the project’s executive sponsors and all firms involved in this project are deeply committed to sustainability and have strategies in place to ensure pay equity, fair and equitable work environments, and to attract and retain diverse workforces

Use of renewable energy: traction power will rely on renewable energy. Stations, as well as other facilities to support the high-speed rail system will be zero-net energy, and in many cases will supply more than 100% of  annual energy needs with on-site renewable energy

Stimulating economic prosperity and development across the state, by providing nearly 3,000 full time jobs, with an emphasis on job creation for people living in historically disadvantaged communities and an emphasis on small business participation.


“We are proud to receive an Envision Platinum award. The California high-speed rail system is a program composed of multiple mega projects touching a diverse array of ecological systems and communities across 500 miles and into the economic powerhouses of the state. The Envision Platinum award is a welcome validation of the work the Authority has undertaken to honor the ethics and values of California to achieve sustainability,” said Meg Cederoth, Director of Planning and Sustainability for the Authority.

“We are so excited about the California High-Speed Rail Program earning an Envision Platinum award. This project will be a mobility game-changer for the people of California. It demonstrated a wide range of sustainability achievements, including improving overall quality of life for the many communities this project connects, demonstrating leadership in sustainability, using resources and materials efficiently, protecting and preserving the natural world, and taking action to combat climate change. In many cases, the California High-Speed Rail Program earned the highest performance level possible for credits in the Envision system.” – Melissa Peneycad, ISI’s managing director.

Envision-verified Project: California High-Speed Rail Program, Phase I
Owner: California High-Speed Rail Authority
Location: California
Lead Envision Firm: WSP
Envision Rating: Platinum
Award Date: December 10, 2020
Project Phase: Under Construction

For more information about this project and its sustainability commitments and achievements, CLICK HERE.

Download the official press release