National Academies Press: OpenBook

Lessons Learned from Airport Sustainability Plans (2015)

Chapter: Chapter Four - Drivers, Aids, and Barriers to Sustainability Programs

« Previous: Chapter Three - Developing Sustainability Plans
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Four - Drivers, Aids, and Barriers to Sustainability Programs ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Lessons Learned from Airport Sustainability Plans. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22111.
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Page 14
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Four - Drivers, Aids, and Barriers to Sustainability Programs ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Lessons Learned from Airport Sustainability Plans. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22111.
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Page 15
Page 16
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Four - Drivers, Aids, and Barriers to Sustainability Programs ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Lessons Learned from Airport Sustainability Plans. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22111.
×
Page 16
Page 17
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Four - Drivers, Aids, and Barriers to Sustainability Programs ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. Lessons Learned from Airport Sustainability Plans. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22111.
×
Page 17

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14 chapter four Drivers, AiDs, AnD BArriers to sustAinABility ProgrAms The idea of making human activities more sustainable gained traction in the 1980s. During the past 30 years, the concept has grown into a movement widely adopted by both the public and private sectors. Many corporations have adopted sustainability programs and guidelines, and airports are following the trend by adopting sustainable practices. However, any new program usually starts with a driver, which can be one or more persons who want to create change or a combination of internal and external influences. New programs often require implementation assistance or aids of some sort to address implementation barriers. Table 1 summarizes the top drivers, aids, and barriers to design- ing, adopting, and implementing an airport sustainability program that were identified in the survey. toP Drivers For AirPort sustAinABility Airports adopt sustainability programs for a number of reasons, and 21 of the respondents listed cost reductions as a top driver. Sustainability-related initiatives, such as energy reduction and enhanced maintenance and waste management, can improve environmental performance and reduce costs. Eighteen of the survey respondents ranked airport management and FAA funding as top drivers (see Figure 10). Several interviewed airports explained that their sustainability efforts originated from an airport director’s firm belief that making the airport’s operations more sustainable is the right thing to do environmentally, financially, and/or socially. Having a vibrant sustainability program can raise the airport’s profile in its community and position the airport as a local and even national leader in environmental, financial, and/or social initiatives. The key role of FAA funding in sustainability initia- tives at some airports was clear from the survey results and was validated during follow-up interviews. In several cases, the airports followed directives from their governing bodies to adopt a sustain- ability program or followed the program of the governing body. Sixteen respondents listed community relations as a top driver, 13 pointed to environmental compliance, and 11 believed that sustainability initiatives offered revenue generation opportunities. The survey results precisely mirror the three main pillars of sustainability programs—people, profit, and planet—when cost reductions and revenue gen- eration are added to environmental compliance and community relations. Only seven respondents stated industry or global trends, tenant interest, or local officials were real drivers. This finding suggests that an airport’s internal and local motives are a larger factor in advancing sustainability than are popular trends and other larger-scale influences. The Sustainable Aviation Resource Guide: Planning, Implementing and Maintaining a Sustainabil- ity Program at Airports (2009) lists potential drivers for adoption of sustainable practices by airports: • New federal, state, and local directives • Management belief in doing the right thing • Worldwide awareness and a global economy • Airline industry financial pressures • Rising energy costs • Green and environmental mandates • Resource conservation • Aging infrastructure • Facility life-cycle costs • Enabling technologies.

15 toP AiDs For AirPort sustAinABility The survey asked airports to list and prioritize three factors that aided sustainability program design and implementation. Table 2 divides the responses into three parts, with cross-functional aids to both planning and implementation listed first, followed by aids to the planning process and then aids to the implementation process. The list of cross-functional aids to both planning and implementation includes social aspects of sustainability, in that support of executive management, local and federal government, the community, tenants, and employees were all deemed important to starting and growing the program. In the plan- ning stages, data, analyses, and consultants helped to provide a foundation for building a sustainability platform. Once a sustainability plan has been drafted, its implementation is assisted by a variety of factors, such as funding, training, analytic tools, employee engagement, and internal communications. In the survey, the respondents were asked to list aids according to their importance to the airport’s sustainability efforts, and although the indicated priorities are not reflected in Table 2, a review of the FIGURE 10 Top five drivers for airport sustainability (number of airports in study; multiple responses possible). Top 5 Drivers Top 5 Aids Top 5 Barriers Cost reductions FAA funding availability Management support Community relations Environmental compliance FAA and other funding Management support Tools for tracking resource use and cost/benefit Stakeholder support ACRP publications High cost; lack of funding Limited staff availability Lack of operational control Lack of data on resource use Entrenched culture TABLE 1 TOP 5 AIRPORT SUSTAINABILITY DRIVERS, AIDS, AND BARRIERS

16 top aids mentioned by the respondents highlights the diversity of views and approaches to sustain- ability at the airports. Some airports ranked outreach, education, improved internal communications, and organizational and community support as the most significant aids, all of which could be viewed as relating to the social component of sustainability. Others noted that financial support in the form of federal and state funding and incentives from utilities was most important. As mentioned, nearly three-quarters of the airports receiving federal funds for their sustainability plans stated that the plan would not have been possible without FAA AIP funding. Other financial components that were noted included data produced by audits, cost-benefit analyses, and tools for tracking CO2, costs, and return on investments. Secondary aids consisted of some social components, such as internal training programs and com- munity support. Financial factors appeared again, such as measuring program effectiveness, evalu- ating costs of sustainability initiatives, determining reductions of maintenance costs, and installing metering capability. The secondary aids mentioned tools and resources available in the industry through organizations such as ACI-NA, the SAGA website and database, and consultants. A third tier of aids addressed the social aspects of sustainability—support of local officials, tenants and FAA regional staff, and changes in organizational culture. toP BArriers For AirPort sustAinABility The survey similarly asked airports to list and prioritize the barriers they had encountered in design- ing and implementing sustainability measures or a sustainability program. Table 3 follows the same pattern as the presentation of aids, with barriers to both planning and implementation listed first, followed by barriers to the planning process, and then barriers to the implementation process. By a wide margin, the respondents indicated that availability of financial resources was the primary barrier to both the planning and implementation stages of a sustainability program, with the cost of the initiatives and lack of funding cited most often. However, social aspects were also barriers to planning and implementation, through competing priorities, lack of buy-in from management and/or employees, and lack of cooperation, interest, and awareness. In the planning stages, airports faced barriers through lack of data and information, lack of engagement, and lack of resources. Grand fathered leases and Cross-functional Planning and Implementation Aids Planning Aids Implementation Aids Board, CEO, and management support State funding ACRP publications Community support Momentum within the organization SAGA website and database Public demands Consultant team that developed plan and tools City/county planning and efforts, including lighting upgrades to LED Engineering/design staff training FAA AIP funding Utility incentives and rebates Carbon dioxide and return on investment measurement tool Benefits from installing solar panels on terminal roof Demonstrating pavement recycling cost savings ACI-NA resources Messaging and corporate culture changes Outreach and education FAA regional staff Support of the elected airport officials to fund efforts Tenant support Evaluating total cost of ownership, especially maintenance cost savings Cost/benefit analyses Data from audits Land management spreadsheet tool Benefits from installation of new solar isolation meters Staff willingness to go the extra mile Improved internal communications TABLE 2 AIRPORT SUSTAINABILITY AIDS

17 competing priorities also hindered planning. Once the plan has been developed, its implementation can be slowed or stopped by a wide variety of impediments, such as old habits, lack of available time, limited education and training, lack of operational control and inadequate capacity of renewable energy resources, constrained financial resources, and procurement processes and laws. The respondents were asked to indicate whether the barriers they faced in planning and imple- menting sustainability initiatives were primary, secondary, or tertiary. Table 3 does not present those priorities, but not surprisingly, the primary financial barriers respondents mentioned were the high rate of return required for sustainability programs and staffing resources. Previous ACRP findings identified lack of management support as a barrier (Berry et al. 2008; Thomson and Delaney 2014), but for small airports with fewer staff and resources, lack of management support was not listed as a barrier. Perhaps in smaller airports with low staff numbers, no new initiative can progress without support from management. Other primary barriers included a lack of data, lack of operational and procurement control, and lack of a supportive organizational culture. Secondary barriers cited by the respondents spanned a wide spectrum of issues. Internal organiza- tional dynamics were cited, including a lack of sustainability awareness, a lack of support from man- agement and employees, and limited staffing. Different types of inadequate supporting infrastructure were also noted as secondary barriers, such as lack of cost-benefit analyses of initiatives, nonalign- ment of goals with tenants and other users, grandfathered leases, and competing priorities. Secondary restrictions included limited capacity of renewable energy resources and an absence of submeters. Two financial barriers mentioned were the eligibility requirements for VALE and AIP grants. In addition to primary and secondary barriers, survey respondents noted other barriers they have encountered. Some were financial, such as the recent economic downturn, and some were social, such as a culture of putting out fires (also known as “airport whack-a-mole”), lack of interdepartmental cooperation, apathy, and inadequate sustainability training. Procurement procedures and competition between business partners were listed as barriers to implementing sustainability initiatives. One air- port noted that its procurement procedures were especially burdensome barriers because all procure- ment requests go through the city that owns the airport, and the contract generally is awarded to the lowest bidder, regardless of the vendor’s airport experience or product/service quality. Barriers to Both Planning and Implementation Planning Barriers Implementation Barriers Cost (listed 8 times overall) Funding (listed 7 times overall) Staffing resources (listed 7 times overall) Airport priorities Recent economic downturn Midmanagement buy-in Obtaining cultural buy-in Lack of data, such as information on utility use Lack of interdepartmental cooperation Lack of sustainability awareness throughout organization Lack of interest Lack of initiative or direction Cultural inertia blocks proactive measures Resource availability Lack of cost/benefit analysis Willingness of employees Lack of common goals between airport users Grandfathered lease agreements Limited scope of VALE program (needs to include attainment areas) Priority of infrastructure needs Changing old habits Lack of time/mental bandwidth to report progress on goals/strategies Inconvenience Education/training on sustainability Competition between business partners Limited scope of federal AIP program (needs more sustainability focus) Procurement law Lack of solar isolation meters to determine initiative payoff County procurement policies High requirements for return on investment Lack of operational control Limited capacity of renewable energy generation TABLE 3 AIRPORT SUSTAINABILITY BARRIERS

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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 66: Lessons Learned from Airport Sustainability Plans explores sustainability initiatives at smaller U.S. airports. The synthesis presents an analysis of survey responses and provides information gained from the telephone interviews to help inform airport leadership and employees who are considering, developing, or implementing sustainability plans.

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