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18 Because the airport industry has adopted an EONS approach to sustainability, this chapter of the synthesis discusses each of the four components of EONSâEconomic viability, Operational excel- lence, Natural resource conservation, and Social responsibilityâand includes relevant findings from the case example interviews. In many cases, a single initiative can affect more than one EONS component. For example, imple- menting an initiative that increases energy efficiency, such as installing LED lighting, has an eco- nomic impact through lower utility bills and an environmental impact through a reduced demand for electricity from the local power plant. Similarly, an initiative to streamline ground traffic has an eco- nomic impact through fuel savings, an operational impact through more efficient surface transporta- tion, an environmental impact through less exhaust and better air quality, and a social impact through reduced wait time. Many of the initiatives cited here produce benefits in more than one of the EONS components, but for ease of reference they are discussed in the context of one category. ECONOMIC VIABILITY Unless an airport can ensure its economic viability, either through its own resources or through its governing body, the airport will cease to exist. Economic viability is a fundamental operational require- ment underlying all aspects of sustainability. Airports can enhance economic viability in several ways, including through increased revenue generation, decreased costs, and long-term investment in projects with a return on capital expenditure. Without access to passenger facility charges (PFC) that accrue to airports offering commercial service, smaller airports must generate revenue in other ways, including fuel sales, government grants, and facility and land leases. Financial pressures force airports to consider carefully which projects to prioritize or pursue. Despite the critical role played by financial concerns, the vast majority of surveyed airports did not require a defined minimum return on investment or mini- mum cost savings when implementing sustainability initiatives. Many of the early projects can involve replacing older, less sustainable infrastructure and equip- ment, although those projects require a capital outlay. Recycling programs can reap financial rewards through sale of the recyclable material, but an airport must still invest cash in obtaining proper bins and visible signage. Often, expert consultants must be retained to design and draft a sustainability manage- ment or master plan, although some airports stated that expert consultants actually saved them staff and financial resources by providing direction on where to focus efforts. Survey Findings Several of the surveyed airports have installed LED lighting to reduce energy costs, and 20 airports viewed a recycling program as a viable no-cost or low-cost initiative that could enhance their sustain- ability profile (see Figure 11). In some locations, specific waste materials with a market value (e.g., metals, mixed paper, and cardboard) can be sold to a recycling service provider to generate revenue. One airport collaborates with a local wastewater treatment plant, receiving payment from the plant to take biosolids that are then used as fertilizer for an airport property farm; this arrangement reduces emissions that would have been produced from transporting the biosolids and diverts the material from landfill. A full list of airport no-cost and low-cost suggestions provided in the survey is presented in a table within Appendix A. chapter five EONS COMpONENTS
19 As stated, alternate sources of financial support for sustainability initiatives are available. Utilities offer rebates, energy audits, and purchase agreements for renewable energy, and state and local entities provide subsidies for energy efficiency projects and electric vehicle charging stations (see Figure 4). Case Example Insights During the interview for this synthesis, Huntington Tri-State (HTS) stated that having a sustainabil- ity master plan contributes to an airportâs economic viability by safeguarding the publicâs investment in the airport and allowing the airport to focus on cutting costs. Teterboro and Stewart (TEB/SWF) agreed that sustainability can be viewed both as a tool to achieve better bottom line results and as a revenue driver because having a sustainability plan helps airports to think strategically and ulti- mately serve customers more effectively. However, according to Redmond (RDM), in the event of FIGURE 11 Types of no-cost or low-cost initiatives (number of airports in study; multiple responses possible). Lowering Mowing Costs Renton (RNT) was able to reduce the cost of maintaining its landscape by replacing an existing mower with a faster and more fuel-efficient alternative. Conserving resources often involves extending the functional life of current airport assets. However, in cases in which the existing equipment generates a staff time burden that can be reduced with current products on the market, the investment in replacement equipment may make sense. Effective economic sustainability requires factoring in the total costs, including labor. In the case of mowers, there are additional benefits from fuel savings and air quality enhancement. Older mowers produce more emissions on a per mile basis than do cars, and replacing inefficient models can help improve local air quality.
20 a conflict between sustainability initiatives and financial responsibilities such as maintenance, the airportâs financial responsibilities must take priority. Operational activities that are viewed as no cost or low cost can yield environmental performance benefits and are a reasonable place to begin sustainability efforts. Some airports question the prem- ise that any initiative could be no cost or low cost because projects require commitment of human resources and often funding as well. For this reason, Ithaca (ITH) advised that, although initiatives must make financial sense, airports should avoid dismissing a sustainable alternative simply because the up-front costs may appear a little higher than expected. Nantucket (ACK) was able to take advantage of zero percentage on-bill financing for its energy efficiency improvements. With zero percentage on-bill financing, the customer borrows funds from the utility to finance energy efficiency improvements and repays the loan as part of its utility bill. This mechanism is available in certain states, and in some cases the reduction in energy use must be at least equivalent to the loan payment. Goodyear and Deer Valley (GYR/DVT) recommended that to gain greater acceptance and involve- ment for sustainability initiatives, it is important that financial savings be demonstrated before, dur- ing, and after implementation. With respect to enhancing revenue, Kent State (1G3) serves as a good example of an airport that has become financially self-sustaining by seeking revenue streams in a variety of places. The airport sells fuel for its primary revenue stream, but it also leases unneeded space, provides aircraft washing, runs a bookstore, and collects rent from Kent State University for flight training. OpERATIONAL EFFICIENCY Airports exist to serve air travel and thus house a wide variety of related operations, from aircraft and vehicle movements to building construction and maintenance. Sustainability measures that are well integrated with airside and/or facility operations have the greatest opportunity to succeed. Cross- functional collaboration is often essential and may require cultural shifts to implement sustainability priorities. Operational efficiency can take many forms, and smaller airports are especially keen to implement projects that increase their operational efficiency because such measures often translate directly into bottom-line savings. Survey Findings Within the survey, operational efficiency actions relate in some way to energy or climate resiliency. To limit the length of the survey, actions that may reduce staff and resource demands, such as consolidat- ing facilities, were not included. The responses showed clear preferences for operational initiatives that support sustainability efforts. Every one of the 27 respondents to the question stated that they had installed LED lighting. Twenty- two reported that they had pursued improved energy controls or routine operational improvements, which can take the form of smart meters, motion-sensitive lighting and higher or lower temperature settings. Twenty of the respondents installed energy-efficient upgrades to their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, 10 took measures to reduce emissions from on-ground aircraft, and nine conducted greenhouse gas inventories. The survey results suggest that energy use reduction has been widely integrated within operations (see Figure 12). Another initiative included replacing a small infield mower with a larger mower to reduce fuel consumption and staff time spent mowing. One airport built a cogeneration power plant that makes electricity from natural gas and provides 90% of all power for the terminals and parking structures. The plant is energy efficient because it uses waste heat from lean-burn engines to make chilled water for air conditioning for the terminals. Other respondents modeled building energy use, acquired electric or alternative fuel vehicles, retro-commissioned equipment, installed solar panels, and insulated buildings.
21 Nantucket Carbon Neutrality Nantucket (ACK) is currently on Phase 2 of a carbon neutral project that includes a broad range of energy efficiency actions. Detailed energy audits have revealed opportunities to reduce electricity con- sumed by appliances and equipment âplug-load,â as well as detailed energy modeling of airport buildings. The indoor plug load audit provided a formal process to objectively assess every item at the airport that may otherwise keep drawing electrical energy, such as outdated IT equipment, without an intentional process to determine if the function was necessary. Mechanical system audits revealed a design deficiency in the terminal that required a supplemental propane heat source as a result of an historic building renovation project. Establishing a formal assessment for energy conservation measures revealed potential cost-effective actions for ACK. FIGURE 12 Energy and climate actions (number of airports in study; multiple responses possible).
22 Case Example Insights In the interview for its case example, Buffalo (BUF) staff explained how the airport found synergy between one of its sustainability initiatives and operational improvement. Surface transportation was recognized as a major focus area for the airport. By installing an overpass for flyovers to improve the circulator load system around the airport property, airport traffic is reduced and the carbon footprint is lowered. In addition, construction of a high-speed turn-off will save fuel and reduce taxi time, as will installation of a parallel taxiway near the FBO. Outagamie (ATW) was prompted by rising utility costs and a volatile air service industry to cham- pion sustainability initiatives and reduce energy usage in the passenger terminal and other buildings. A building energy assessment led to numerous changes, including the addition of a 50-kW photo- voltaic array and a 12-panel solar thermal system on the airport terminal, removal of high-energyâuse equipment, and installation of energy-efficient lighting and room occupancy sensors. Prioritizing Airport Operational Efficiency Because operations are at the heart of an airportâs activities, the airport community identified operational efficiency within the EONS framework to refine the conventional sustainability âtriple bottom lineâ focus. Airports have direct control of infrastructure operations and have an ability to influence airside operations. Well-run facilities cost less to operate and maintain, and efficient management of aircraft on the ground low- ers costs for operators. In addition, managing both areas of operations effectively provides sustainability benefits. The following are two key examples that profile operational efficiency within airport sustainability plans. Airside Operational Efficiency Teterboro Airport (TEB) advances multiple efficiency initiatives for aircraft operations. TEB coordinates with the FAA on a number of initiatives that include reducing existing approach distances, establishing âautomaticâ aircraft releases so that pilots can save fuel by delaying engine start until scheduled time, and adopting NextGen air traffic technologies, such as direct descent. All three of the TEB operational efficiency initiatives make the airport more attractive to operators, save money, and reduce emissions. In addition, TEB is improving the aircraft taxiway, holding areas, and surface transportation network to increase efficiency and enhance airport safety. Facility Operational Efficiency Renton Airport (RNT) prioritizes operational efficiency for its existing facilities. The RNT sustainability plan identifies tracking monthly utility charges to manage the airportâs consumption of energy, water, and other resources. RNT has adopted an initiative to partner with energy firms to maximize potential revenue generation on land that was not producing revenue benefits to offset airport operational costs and reduce fossil fuel energy consumption. As a way of broadening the analysis of operational decisions, RNT is launching an initiative to make investment decisions based on the total cost of ownership. All three facility operational efficiencies enhance RNTâs sustainability performance. NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION Many people associate the term âsustainabilityâ with environmental protection, so it is not surprising that the surveyed airports had implemented measures focused on the environment and natural resource conservation. The surveyed airports reported a wide variety of environmentally oriented sustainability priorities, with a few initiatives adopted most frequently. In an effort to condense survey content, some actions that are not typically labeled as ânatural resourcesâ were included within this category, such as green buildings, green procurement, and environmental management systems (EMSs). Survey Findings Twenty-five of the respondents took measures to reduce waste, which in many cases probably included recycling. A significant majority of respondents addressed water, with 20 reducing consumption to con- serve water and 19 implementing storm water management to enhance local water quality. Given that noise from aircraft may be the most enduring environmental issue in aviation, it is not surprising that
23 18 of the surveyed airports reported having active noise management programs. No other environ- mental initiatives received a majority of votes in the survey, although airports did engage in managing air quality, conserving biodiversity, ensuring appropriate land use, and procuring environmentally friendly products. A few pursued green building certification and formal environmental manage- ment systems (see Figure 13). One respondent commented that ad hoc initiatives are often not per- ceived as sustainability efforts, even though they clearly function within a sustainability program: âImplementing the âstormwater programâ or the âair qualityâ initiatives makes more sense to the staff, than putting it under the âsustainability umbrella.â Everything we do is for sustainability; if not, we wouldnât be in business.â Case Example Insights As stated in the previous section, the high cost of energy consumption can lead to adoption of opera- tional behaviors that have environmental benefits. In some instances, the environmental component of sustainability can place pressure on the airport from the local community or the governing body. For example, 1G3 is owned by Kent State University, and environmentally conscious students prompted the university, and therefore the airport, to adopt and implement a sustainability program. In other cases, the airport can become a leader in conserving natural resources. As described in the case exam- ples in the next chapter, Portland (PWM) took an imaginative and aggressive approach to manage deicing fluid, and the resulting process protects water quality and serves as a revenue source through recycling of the fluid for others. Protecting Endangered Species from Runoff When Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) was built in the late 1990s, an environmental impact study revealed the presence of blind Ozark cavefish in the airport rainfall discharge area. The Ozark cave- fish has been on the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants since 1984, so the airport had to find a way to protect the creatureâs habitat. The resulting design combined beauty and functionality while creating other types of habitat. The first half inch of rain is collected from the pavement after each shower or significant event and diverted to ditches with liners or concrete swales. The overflow ditches are lined with riprap composed of repurposed ramp pavement that was removed for construction of a con- course. The riprap prevents particles from infiltrating and having an impact on the blind cavefish habitat. All runoff is then stored in three retaining ponds and overflow areas. Water is held until testing reveals that it is safe.
24 SOCIAL RESpONSIBILITY By the essence of their operation and function, airports function in a social setting. Airports exist to host and facilitate movement of people and of the goods that people need, providing a vital link between local communities and distant locations. Through these and other activities, airports gather various communities of people for pleasure and commerce and thus serve as a forum in which employees, tenants, aircraft owners, operators, passengers, service providers, and others can interact socially. In addition, airports support social networks by providing jobs that supply income to local citizens and families and making purchases that bolster local businesses. In return, airports benefit from actions that foster effective social engagement within the airport and with the surrounding community. Social practices may offer a promising area of sustainability initiatives for smaller airports. Many social practices can have little or no costs or can be part of standard effective human resource management, such as providing volunteers for local charities, allowing a greater work-life balance for employees (e.g., flexible hours), and offering airport facilities for community activities. Survey Findings When asked about the social component of their sustainability programs, the surveyed airports gave a wide variety of responses, with only community contributions such as volunteerism featuring in a majority of practices (15 of 28). Fourteen airports had adopted initiatives to enhance employee well- being, such as health and wellness programs, and an equal number also tried to increase comfort for employees, passengers, and tenants through indoor environmental quality practices, such as better light, ventilation, and temperature management. Twelve of the respondents instituted equal opportu- nity programs, 11 provided sustainability training for staff, and ten assisted career development and improved accessibility to the airport for disabled and/or elderly stakeholders. Eight respondents had programs to ensure staff retention. Note that nearly all of the social responsibility initiatives required little to no financial investment, although the allocation of staff time represents an investment of valuable human capital and resources as an organizational priority (see Figure 14). Case Example Insights Another critical aspect of an airportâs social responsibility is maintaining a good relationship with its stakeholders, which include the customers, passengers, tenants, employees, governing body, and community. Nearly all interviewed airports emphasized the importance of involving stakeholders in every stage of a sustainability plan and program, from early design to active implementation to con- tinuous improvement. Some, such as Huntington Tri-State (HTS), developed an advisory task force FIGURE 13 Natural resource actions (number of airports in study; multiple responses possible).
25 composed of the local universities, city and county officials, and all airport tenants; the task force contributed ideas and generated buy-in from stakeholders. Ithaca (ITH) invested time in educating the applicable stakeholders to gain the support of the local community and the governing legislative body. In an effort to enhance passenger experience and gain support from that stakeholder, Northwest Arkansas (XNA) introduced floor games and a meditation/yoga room in the terminal. The social aspect can also be a negative force for adoption of sustainability initiatives. Entrenched behaviors and cultural resistance can inhibit adoption of simple actions, such as turning out lights in unoccupied rooms and recycling office waste. FIGURE 14 Social responsibility actions (number of airports in study; multiple responses possible). DVT and GYR Training the Next Generation DVT and GYR offer a robust program to introduce aviation and airport careers to local colleges and universi- ties. The airports work with Phoenix Sky Harbor to partner with the local institutions and recruit students who take aviation classes and provide the opportunity for students to learn firsthand what it takes to run an airport. This partnership enhances connections with the local community and region by providing this direct experience. It also serves to develop the next generation of airport employees and expose airport jobs to a group of students who might not otherwise consider careers in aviation.