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10 BENEFITS OF SUSTAINABILITY The benefits of sustainability are well documented. FAA explains that sustainable actions (a) reduce environmental impacts, (b) help maintain high, stable levels of economic growth, and (c) help achieve âsocial progress,â a broad set of actions that ensure organizational goals are achieved in a way thatâs consistent with the needs and values of the local community (Federal Aviation Administration 2015, para. 1). SAGA (n.d.) points to the following benefits for airports adopting sustainability initiatives: â¢ increased competitiveness through lean operations and reduced operating and life-cycle costs, â¢ greater utilization of assets, â¢ reduced environmental footprint, â¢ optimization of new and better technologies, â¢ reduced costs of asset development, â¢ improved bond ratings, â¢ improved benefits to and greater support from the community, â¢ improved work environment for employees, leading to higher productivity, and â¢ reduced environmental, health, and safety risk (p. 9). COSTS Most small airports do not have the financial resources to dedicate to sustainability efforts, which is why this Synthesis is focused on presenting realistic sustainable solutions for airports with- out significant funding options. FAA, through the Airport Improvement Program, makes funds available for sustainability initiatives. Perhaps the most complete reference to date of funding sources for airports pursuing sustainable initiatives is ACRP Synthesis 24: Strategies and Financ- ing Opportunities for Airport Environmental Programs, which provides strategies for identifying and pursuing funding opportunities. This resource presents federal, regional, state, local, and non- governmental funding opportunities for airports. Strategies for identifying and pursuing funding, as presented by Molar (2011), include: â¢ Start thinking like a government; stop thinking like an airport. â¢ Rely on outside experts. â¢ Partnering and teaming may provide access to funding opportunities. â¢ Planning and preparation are essential. â¢ Weigh the costs and benefits of the financial assistance. â¢ Program contacts can be helpful. â¢ A proactive, not reactive, approach is helpful. â¢ Consider multiple funding sources for an environmental initiative. â¢ Be nimble. â¢ Leverage the hidden value streams at the airport. â¢ Develop and use networks of support for environmental initiatives (pp. 5â8). As Lau et al. (2010) explain, airports looking for low-cost ways to enhance their sustainability efforts could âreach for âlow hanging fruit.ââ By focusing on initiatives that are eligible for rebates, chapter three LITERATURE REVIEW
11 tax credits, and energy funding, airports might pursue sustainable projects with minimal cost. Molar (2011), in ACRP Synthesis 24, also provides information on additional sources of funding for sustainable initiatives. SUSTAINABILITY PLANS One concept that is gaining momentum in the airport industry, especially as a result of FAA fund- ing provided in this area, is airport sustainability planning. This trend allows airports to adopt a more formal and holistic approach to sustainability planning. As FAA (2010) explains, âThere are many benefits of airport sustainability planning, including reduced energy consumption, reduced noise impacts, reduced hazardous and solid waste generation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved water quality, improved community relations, and cost savingsâ (p. 1). There are two types of sustainability plans in use at airports. A âsustainable master planâ is integrated into the master planning process and document. A âsustainable management planâ is a separate document that focuses on sustainability. Although âbalancing sustainability objectives and aviation needs is challenging in a Sustainable Master Plan,â the FAA (2012) explains that, âDespite the challenges, integrating sustainability into a master plan affords more opportunities to align sustainability and planningâ (p. 2). For example, as part of all master plans, FAA now requires a waste management plan. To address recycling and waste management at airports, FAA in April 2013 released Recycling, Reuse and Waste Reduction at Airports: A Synthesis Document. The agency states: Over the past several years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been encouraging airport sponsors to incorporate sustainability in airport planning, design, and operations. In our continuing efforts to assist air- port sponsors in incorporating sustainability into airport planning, design, and operations, the FAA has decided to provide specific guidance to airports in two key focus areas: programs to encourage recycling, reduction and reuse of materials, and programs to encourage airports to reduce their energy consumption (p. 1). The FAAâs Recycling, Reuse and Waste Reduction at Airports presents guidance in establishing a municipal solid waste recycling program and a construction and demolition waste program, with many case examples of actual airport practices in these areas. In September 2014, FAA issued a memorandum to provide guidance to airports in preparing recycling, reuse, and waste reduction plans as an element of a master plan or master plan update, within a sustainability planning docu- ment, or as a stand-alone document. It also is important to note the Airport Improvement Plan (AIP) eligibility of these efforts (FAA 2014c). As of July 2015, FAA had provided grants to 44 airports to develop a sustainable master plan or sustainable management plan. One of these grants was awarded to the Colorado Department of Transportation to develop a state sustainability toolkit (see chapter four). According to FAA (2015), âThese documents include initiatives for reducing environmental impacts, achieving economic ben- efits, and increasing integration with local communitiesâ (para. 3). This funding for developing projects that will contribute to the airportâs triple bottom line is evidence of FAA support of this multifaceted approach to future airport development. Although formal sustainability plans provide many advantages, staff of small airports are encour- aged to consider sustainable initiatives that may be pursued with or without such a plan. Rather than being discouraged from pursuing sustainable initiatives that lack a formal plan, staff are encouraged to pursue reasonable initiatives even in the absence of such a plan. SUSTAINABILITY GUIDELINES AND RESOURCES More information on sustainable master plans may be found on the FAA website. Additional resources on sustainability to which airports may refer are presented in Table 4. Summary informa- tion on each of these resources is presented in Appendix C.
12 SMALL AIRPORT CONSIDERATION Certainly, smaller airports (including the airports that were the focus of this study) have only a frac- tion of the resources (funds, staff, facilities) that larger airports have. However, this need not prohibit such airports from pursuing sustainable initiatives. Smaller airports have been quite innovative in their approach to sustainability, allowing for low-cost solutions to be implemented. According to SAGA (n.d.), âThe difference among airports may be the breadth at which initial programs are implemented (i.e., the scale)â (p. 15). Many sustainable initiatives are scalable and can be made more appropriate for smaller airports with adjustments to project scope. Small airports can be encouraged by SAGA (n.d.), in that â[a]irport operators are encouraged to view sustainability as a process and not an end goalâ (p. 13). In essence, the focus is not be on the number or scale of sustainable projects implemented but rather on the transformed thought processes that lead staff to âthink sustainableâ in all business decisions. This clearly will lead a smaller airport to initiate some sustainable initiatives, but the success of the airportâs efforts need not be equated to the number of projects completed. For airport staff overwhelmed at the prospect of being more sustainable, a pilot program could be considered. Rather than a risky all-or-nothing approach, it can be useful to focus on one initiative, gain experience with the process, and learn from that project before initiating additional projects. As SAGA (n.d.) explains, âThrough the pilot program, the airport opera- tor will gain experience with the basic premises of the management system approach and will determine how to modify the steps to fit the airportâs unique operating environment and set of resourcesâ (p. 19). To ensure success, each sustainable initiative needs a champion. This person will be the âdriverâ for the project, bring stakeholders together through the formation of an advisory council, develop the steering committee, and oversee the creation of implementation teams, moving from strategy to action (see Figure 2). SAGA presents a comprehensive approach to the development and implementation of sustainable initiatives. Starting with a champion and sustainability team, the process presents several steps (see Figure 3). FAA Report on the Sustainable Master Plan Pilot Program and Lessons Learned ACRP Report 119: Prototype Airport Sustainability Rating SystemâCharacteristics, Viability, and Implementation Options ACRP Report 43: Guidebook of Practices for Improving Environmental Performance at Small Airports GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines & Airport Operators Sector Supplement Advisory Circular 150/5050-8, Environmental Management Systems for Airport Sponsors ISO 14000 Sustainable Aviation Resource Guide ACRP Synthesis 21: Airport Energy Efficiency and Cost Reduction TABLE 4 SUSTAINABILITY GUIDELINES AND RESOURCES
13 FIGURE 2 Various roles from strategy to action (Source: SAGA n.d.). FIGURE 3 SAGA approach (Source: SAGA n.d.).