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5 CHAPTER TWO STRATEGIES FOR IDENTIFYING AND PURSUING FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVES There are a variety of funding sources available to airports at Rely on Outside Experts the state and federal levels. The specific opportunities are dis- cussed in the following two chapters of this report. The focus As regular recipients of AIP funding, many airports may have of this chapter is on strategies or actions that airport operators the experience to successfully pursue ordinary AIP develop- can take to identify and successfully pursue these funding ment and planning grants in-house. For other financial assis- opportunities. The discussion turns first to matters of general tance programs different areas of technical knowledge and applicability. Matters related to specific environmental issues knowledge of grant administration may be required. During an interview for one case example, staff of CALSTART, a follow. Finally, other potential sources of information on transportation policy and advocacy organization, emphasized financing opportunities are discussed. the importance of obtaining outside expertise in areas beyond the airport's core competencies to a successful effort to obtain GENERAL STRATEGIES environmental grants. Entities with the necessary expertise sometimes can be located through state websites addressing Start Thinking Like a Government, particular resource issues. In addition airport industry asso- Stop Thinking Like an Airport ciations, including the Airports Council InternationalNorth America (ACINA), the American Association of Airport Most public-use airports are operated by public (governmen- Executives (AAAE), and the Airport Consultants Council tal) entities. Airports can be divisions or departments of cities (ACC) maintain lists of consultants with expertise in various or counties. Other airports are operated by independent author- disciplines. Other sources of expertise may include universi- ities; however, these authorities are political subdivisions of ties and environmentally oriented nonprofit organizations, such state or local governments. In a few states, for example Alaska, as the Sierra Club. Hawaii, and Rhode Island, some airports are operated by units of state government. Aside from FAA programs, many envi- In some cases, it may be necessary to contract for outside ronmental funding programs are open to qualifying state or expertise. The costs of obtaining such outside expertise may local government entities. As governmental entities, airports be reimbursable from the grant as an allowable project cost. may be eligible to participate in these programs. Depending on the resource area, there may be additional requirements for or Partnering and Teaming May Provide Access limitations on eligibility. However, airports have the potential to Funding Opportunities to qualify as governmental entities, which may open new fund- ing opportunities. As reflected in the case example involving CALSTART, some grant programs establish a minimum grant amount that exceeds Some funding programs may be limited to metropolitan the financial capacity or the need of a single airport. Some grant planning organizations (MPOs) or regional planning agen- programs may allow a coalition of individual airports to apply cies. Airports may be able to gain access to these programs as a group. by working through their local MPO or regional planning agencies. Some environmental financial assistance programs, such as historic preservation programs, rely on tax credits rather Some airport operators are multi-state agencies that do not than on direct grants. Tax credits do not benefit public entities. meet the traditional definition of a local government. Never- However, tax credits could provide an incentive to airport ten- theless, these operators may be able to qualify for funding ants or equipment vendors. By partnering with private-sector programs available to local government entities. However, participants that can use the tax credits, airports may be able to the level of effort and creativity required to demonstrate eligi- take advantage of environmental financing programs oriented bility may be greater than the effort required from a traditional toward the private sector. Some funding opportunities are open local government entity. Such entities might also qualify for to both private and governmental entities. For some situations, state-only programs, although a higher level of effort may be it might be more advantageous for an airport to partner with required. private-sector participants than to pursue a grant directly.
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6 Finally, for some programs, granting agencies may give Weigh the Costs and Benefits of priority consideration to applications from a coalition of enti- the Financial Assistance ties. During an interview for another case example, staff of As reflected in the matrices and case examples, there may be the SeattleTacoma International Airport expressed the opin- substantial burdens associated with seeking and obtaining ion that the airport's participation in a Clean Cities Coalition environmental grants. There are costs associated with devel- grant with three other entities enhanced the attractiveness of oping an application and these costs can be substantial. Most the grant request as compared with a stand-alone application. financial assistance programs require a contribution of a share of project costs from the applicant. There are also ongoing Planning and Preparation are Essential reporting and record-keeping requirements after a project has been completed. For some projects; for example, water qual- This report provides information on a wide range of fund- ity projects, there may be ongoing O&M expenses. ing opportunities for environmental initiatives. By using this information, airport management can select the initiatives Airport staff interviewed for one of the case examples they wish to pursue, taking into account cost and potential suggested that on a purely financial basis a grant of less than funding assistance. Once initiatives are selected, it would be $2 million would not have been cost-effective. However, the prudent to begin planning, developing a budget, and develop- amount the airport received for the project described in this ing an estimate of project benefits. Many programs use cost- example substantially exceeded this figure. effectiveness as one selection criteria and require quantitative reporting of benefits. As noted in the Table 2 in chapter four, In weighing costs and benefits it is important to consider the however, for many state programs the final design may be nonfinancial benefits. The environmental benefits of a project deferred until after the granting agency makes preliminary may not be fully quantifiable as a monetary amount. In addi- selections. Another reason that planning is critical is the tion, the airport may receive intangible benefits in the form of schedule of the grant process. The matrices provide schedule positive publicity or identification as a community-oriented information based on the most recent year for which it was good neighbor. These intangible benefits may be valuable to available; however, schedules may vary from year to year. an airport when it is seeking community support for major The time between the announcement of grant opportunities capital development programs. and the filing of preliminary or final applications may be rel- atively short. Program Contacts Can Be Helpful Planning and preparation may include developing a bud- As reflected in the matrices, most federal and state program get, obtaining necessary budget approvals, and hiring outside listings on websites include contact information. Although the expertise. The planning and preparation process presents a sample was small, the results were consistent. Responses were number of organizational issues to be addressed if the process prompt and the information requested was provided. E-mail is to be successful. The following list summarizes these orga- appeared to be the most effective means of communication. If nizational issues: this result is indicative, airport staff, as potential applicants, will usually be able to find a high level of cooperation. Pro- 1. Understand Internal Process: gram contacts can also assist an airport in the successful pur- ˇ Budgeting for grant preparation suit of a grant. The collaboration can be mutually beneficial. ˇ Mobilizing organization Airport operators receive the financial benefit of the success- ˇ Building your team ful pursuit of funds. Program staff also benefit when they are ˇ Legal and administrative requirements for executing recognized as contributing to the success of the funding pro- grants. gram. Acknowledging the assistance of program staff in an air- 2. Understand Grant Process: port's successful pursuit of a grant can provide an incentive for ˇ Timelines continued cooperation. Program staff can also be a source of ˇ Contacts information on new funding opportunities when they arise. ˇ Format of documents. 3. Understanding Commitments: ˇ Of the grant A Proactive Not Reactive Approach Is Helpful ˇ Matching funds ˇ Operations and maintenance (O&M) Airport operators seeking new sources of funding for envi- ˇ Reporting. ronmental initiatives are more likely to be successful by tak- 4. Follow Through: ing a proactive approach in pursuing grants; this can include ˇ Taking ownership of the project and grant process a number of actions. For example, regular monitoring of the ˇ Developing a champion for the project within the federal and state websites included in the matrices is critical. organization. The matrices contain information that was available at the
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7 time this study was conducted and postings are subject to Consider Multiple Funding Sources for change. The federal grants.gov website added new grant oppor- an Environmental Initiative tunities on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. Some state The Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA) is cur- websites also were not regularly updated and continued to list rently benefitting from multiple grant programs to support recently closed grant opportunities, although the amount of vehicle emission reductions. CRAA is part of a coalition information on closed programs varied widely. Once airport assembled by Clean Fuels Ohio that obtained funding under staff have identified the resource area (or areas) they would the Clean Cities Program to finance the incremental costs of like to pursue, it would be prudent to use the matrix to iden- replacing existing parking lot shuttle vehicles with propane tify potential funding sources and to monitor the websites vehicles. CRAA also partnered with the Ohio Environmental listed for those sources on a regular basis. Some programs Council to obtain funding from the Midwest Clean Diesel enable interested parties to sign up to receive automatic Initiative for retrofitting diesel vehicles to reduce emissions. notices about program developments; using this option could However, many federal programs do not allow federal fund- reduce the burden of monitoring sites. ing sources to be combined, although grantor staff can help bring multiple parties or funding sources together. For some states, links to grant information may not read- ily appear on agency home pages. It may be necessary to link Another potential funding source may be fines for envi- to specific program information or to use the search function ronmental pollution or settlements or awards from environ- at the agency level. The information is available; the addi- mental litigation. Massachusetts dedicates the proceeds from tional effort that may be required to obtain the information is fines for environmental pollution to environmental programs. worthwhile because it can lead to identification of funding Other states may have similar programs, but this study did not opportunities. focus on this issue. Networking is another useful strategy. Participation in environmental conferences, environmental forums, and orga- Be Nimble nizations at the state, regional, or local level can enable airport staff to identify and pursue new environmental fund- As noted, planning and preparation are important. However, ing opportunities. Two of the case examples in chapter six some funding opportunities may arise on short notice. An air- involve airports that were members of regional clean cities port with structures in place to respond to funding opportu- coalitions and relied on their memberships when in pursuit nities may be better positioned to take advantage of them of funding. when they occur. Proactively seeking out grant opportunities is one element. Having structures in place that provide legal Planning and preparation, discussed earlier, also support a authorization to apply for funds or that permit authority to be proactive approach to obtaining environmental funding. One obtained on short notice is also important. planning tool used by the Massachusetts Port Authority (Mass- port), the owner/operator of Boston Logan International Air- Flexibility is also essential. One of the case example air- port, involves the creation of a grants committee that includes ports started out pursuing a grant on a stand-alone basis, but key members from the Executive Administration and Admin- elected to complete the grant process as part of a consortium istration and Finance Departments. The grants committee is effort. In the opinion of airport staff, the decision to join a convened before a grant application is made. It focuses on consortium may have increased the probability of obtaining understanding up front all the strings that are attached to a the grant funding. successful grant application; for example, matching funds, monitoring and reporting requirements, and Equal Employ- Leverage the Hidden Value Streams at the Airport ment Opportunity standards, so that appropriate resources and procedures can be adopted to ensure compliance with Some environmental initiatives can pay for themselves or these requirements. can attract participation by for-profit enterprises. One case example involved a private business (Clean Energy, Inc.) A proactive approach to funding does not end with obtain- investing in the construction of an on-airport compressed ing a grant agreement or loan. It includes ensuring that proj- natural gas (CNG) refueling station (at no cost to the airport), ects are carried out and all administrative, reporting, and because of the potential profits from CNG fuel sales. The record-keeping requirements are satisfied in a timely manner. guaranteed energy savings contract model discussed here is Failure to implement projects or comply with administrative based on the concept that third-party providers can earn a requirements can lead to the termination of existing funding profit by selling and installing efficient and renewable energy commitments and jeopardize an airport's competitive position devices while being reimbursed from the reduction in electric for future funding. Successful airports ensure that responsibil- utility costs. Finally, a private business (Go Green Airport ity for projects is clearly assigned and that accountable per- Recycling Centers) is now offering to perform solid waste sons are identified. reduction, reuse, and recycling services for airports at no