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AIRPORT SUSTAINABILITY PRACTICESâ DRIVERS AND OUTCOMES FOR SMALL COMMERCIAL AND GENERAL AVIATION AIRPORTS Although definitions of sustainability vary, ACI-NA has perhaps the most comprehensive definition as it applies to airports: Airport Sustainability, in effect is a holistic approach to managing an airport so as to ensure the integrity of the Economic viability, Operational efficiency, Natural Resource Conservation and Social responsibility (EONS) of the airport. Airport Sustainability as a business strategy has both immediate and long-term benefits that can be measured and when persistently managed, should be rewarded (Airports Council InternationalâNorth America n.d., para. 1, p. 7). This consideration of sustainability as being much more than âgreenâ initiatives is an important dis- tinction. As this report reveals, much can be done at small airports to enhance sustainability, and these initiatives need not solely produce environmental benefits. For the purpose of this study, sustainable initiatives were categorized in one or more of the following areas: â¢ Economic viability (E) â Economic vitality â¢ Operational efficiency (O) â Operational efficiency â¢ Natural resource conservation (N) â Air quality enhancement/climate change â Energy conservation/renewable energy â Noise abatement â Water quality protection and water conservation â Land and natural resources management â Land/property use â Pavement management â Materials use and solid waste reduction/recycling â Hazardous materials and waste management/reduction â Surface transportation management â Buildings/facilities. â¢ Social responsibility (S) â Socioeconomic benefits and community outreach/involvement [Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) 2011; Thomson and Delaney 2014]. To understand better the degree to which small airports in the United States are adopting sustainable initiatives and to understand current guidance on the topic of sustainability, this Synthesis study was undertaken during the summer of 2015. With 2,942 total small U.S. airports categorized as general aviation (GA), reliever, or nonprimary commercial service, 340 small airports were randomly selected for a sample. Each of the nine FAA regions was represented in the sample, resulting in 303 responses (representing an 89% response rate). Survey findings include: â¢ Sixty-three percent of small airports have adopted one or more sustainable initiatives. â¢ The most common categories of sustainable initiatives are energy conservation/renewable energy (adopted by 82% of airports), water quality protection and water conservation (42%), materials use and solid waste reduction/recycling (36%), and hazardous materials and waste management/ reduction (18%). SUMMARY
2 Drivers motivating these initiatives and the outcomes experienced varied by project category and FAA region. The four most common categories, and typical drivers and outcomes, are presented in Table 1. Most airports measure the results of their sustainable initiatives in the form of cost savings in utility bills and reduced maintenance hours. Long-term success generally is measured through cost savings over time. Almost 100% of airports reported that sustainable projects met expectations as far as actual benefits realized. Benefits included improved neighbor and community relations, a benefit that generally was not expected. Airports reported barriers to sustainable initiatives in the form of lack of funding, lack of staff, lack of awareness of grants, and a lack of awareness of benefits of sustainable initiatives. Reasons given for not pursuing sustainable initiatives included rural airport, minimal to no environmental impact, costs too high, cost/benefit doesnât work, competing priorities, and no funding. Small air- ports can be encouraged to focus more on sustainability through the use of incentives, education on the benefits, and additional funding opportunities. Of airports that had not yet pursued sustainable initiatives, 20% intend to pursue one or more sus- tainable initiatives in the future. Most of these airports intend to pursue LED lighting projects, with a handful considering solar options or efficient building construction. The main motivating force, or driver, is cost reduction. The main outcomes expected are reduced costs and enhanced efficiency. Airports were asked to indicate agreement or disagreement with several sustainability state- ments. Results are presented in Table 2. Although the study found that more than half of small airports have adopted one or more sustainable initiatives and almost 20% have a formal sustainability plan in place, many of those participating in the study do not believe that their airport has an impact on the environment, and because of lack of fund- ing and different priorities, they choose not to pursue sustainable initiatives. However, sustainability is more than environmental initiatives. These are barriers, but more airports will pursue sustainable initia- tives if more funding is made available, sustainability incentives are created, or sustainability becomes a mandate. The findings in this Synthesis report are intended to enlighten and encourage the staff of small airports to consider pursuing various sustainable initiatives in the future. Category Drivers (%) Outcomes (%) Energy conservation/renewable energy Cost reductions (84) Cost reductions (73) Desire for improved sustainability performance (42) Improved sustainability performance (41) Water quality protection and water conservation Compliance concerns (80) Improved compliance and regulator relationships (81) Materials use and solid waste reduction/recycling Addressing global concerns (93) Addressing global concerns (94) Hazardous materials and waste management/reduction Addressing global concerns (64) Addressing global concerns (64) Compliance concerns (47) Improved compliance and regulator relationships (47) TABLE 1 DRIVERS AND OUTCOMES FOR MOST POPULAR CATEGORIES OF SUSTAINABLE INITIATIVES
3 Statement Agree (%) Disagree (%) I am familiar with the triple bottom line. 55 44 Our airport has little impact on the environment. 96 4 Environmental sustainability is not a priority for us. 89 8 Environmental sustainability costs too much. 86 2 Environmental sustainability has too long a payback period. 91 1 TABLE 2 AGREEMENT AND DISAGREEMENT WITH STATEMENTS ON SUSTAINABILITY