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52 CONCLUSIONS Sustainability in all its forms, including economic viability, operational efficiency, natural resource conservation, and social responsibility (EONS), is being pursued by three of five small airports in the United States, according to the results of this Synthesis. Although most sustainable initiatives reported are in the category of natural resource conservation, airports are also reporting unexpected benefits in the areas of economic viability, operational efficiency, and social responsibility. Most small airports appear to be pursuing sustainability only in the âenvironmentalâ sense, possibly owing to a belief that sustainability exists only in the environmental sense. The staff at 45% of airports are not familiar with the concept of the triple bottom line (environmental stewardship, economic growth, social responsibil- ity). However, as this Synthesis has shown, environmental or natural resource conservation is but one leg of the four-legged EONS approach to sustainability. There are numerous initiatives being pursued by small airports in these other areas as well. The finding that three of five small airports are pursuing sustainable initiatives is encouraging, but surprising, considering other findings of the study. Although environmental initiatives often are equated with the concept of sustainability among small airports, staff at 96% of small airports believe their airport has little impact on the environment. Similarly, staff at 89% of small airports indicate that environmental sustainability is not a priority for them and their airport. Staff at 86% of small airports believe that envi- ronmental sustainability costs too much. Staff at 91% of small airports without sustainable initiatives report that sustainability has too long of a payback period. Moving forward, targeted efforts can encourage staff of more small airports to think sustainably (adopting a sustainable mind-set) and pursue sustainable initiatives to improve airport economic viability, operational efficiency, natural resource conservation, and social responsibility. Sugges- tions for moving more small airports toward sustainability, based on the findings of this Synthesis, include: â¢ Adequate education about the airportâs true environmental footprint. â¢ Adequate education about the varied funding opportunities available in support of sustainable initiatives. â¢ Adequate education about the EONS approach to sustainability. â¢ Adequate education about low-cost sustainability measures. Although introducing recycling con- tainers, installing low-flow toilets, or simply installing motion sensor lighting may not cost much, the staff of many small airports appear to think in much more expensive terms when discussing sustainability. Initiatives such as solar panels or LED lighting may be common at larger airports, but the perceptions of these initiatives are that they have a long return on investment or high initial costs. Although this can be the case, it is not always true. If the staff of small airports are aware of only these types of initiatives and have this perception, it would make perfect sense that environ- mental sustainability costs too much. ACRP Synthesis 35: Issues With Use of Airfield LED Light Fixtures provides more information on this topic. â¢ Adequate education about payback periods and costâbenefit analyses of sustainability measures. Often rebates and tax credits can greatly enhance the payback analysis. An important finding is that for many airports adopting sustainable initiatives, neighbor and com- munity relations were improved, even though that was not an initial driver. This outcome actually supports the EONS concept of sustainability. chapter six CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
53 An additional finding is that it is more efficient to include sustainability as a goal in new construc- tion. This is more effective than attempting to retrofit existing construction. Often, it will be more costly to retrofit than to build sustainably in the first place. In general the driver that motivated the airport to pursue the sustainable initiative generated an identical outcome. This indicates that staff who made a decision to pursue an initiative had a good idea of the results that would be generated, and they selected a particular initiative based on the result they would like to generate. In other words, staff at these airports were well educated about the options, including projected outcomes. For example, pursuing an initiative in the category of energy conservation/renewable energy often was motivated by cost reduction, and these initiatives often produced significant cost savings in utility expenditures. The staff of small airports not yet having pursued a sustainability initiative can learn from their peer airports that have reported success at hav- ing a positive impact on the airportâs triple bottom line, one sustainable initiative at a time. Possibly the most important piece of information this report can offer the airport industry, especially the staff of small airports, is an inventory of less-costly sustainable initiatives that can generate positive returns on the triple bottom line. As discussed in Appendix C, the writings of McGormley et al. (2011) present numerous sustainable initiatives at an initial cost of less than $10,000 that staff of small airports may wish to consider. Their inventory is presented in ACRP Report 43: Guidebook of Practices for Improving Environmental Performance at Small Airports. The FAA also presents ideas for less-costly sustainable initiatives in the (2012) FAA Report on the Sustainable Master Plan Pilot Program and Lessons Learned. In addition to these two insightful resources, staff of small airports may wish to con- sider some additional low-hanging fruit; as discovered during this Synthesis study, some such projects are eligible for generous federal, state, and/or local rebates/credits. Such projects include: â¢ Attract honeybees. â¢ Minimize irrigated turf. â¢ Utilize reclaimed water for irrigation. â¢ Transition to native vegetation. â¢ Install motion sensors on office lights. â¢ Install low-flow toilets. â¢ Install efficient window blinds. â¢ Install a tankless water heater. â¢ Use recycled office paper. â¢ Install double-paned windows. â¢ Recycle waste. â¢ Replace incandescent lights with fluorescent lights. â¢ Consider in-kind contributions by skilled personnel. In addition, airport staff are encouraged to use the Sustainable Aviation Guidance Alliance (SAGA) website to access a wealth of resources on the topic of airport sustainability. The SAGA website is available at http://www.airportsustainability.org/. In conclusion, sustainability, although possibly not as common among small airports as large ones, is part of the mind-set of staff at many small airports across the country. Although only 14 case exam- ples are showcased in this report, there are many more examples of successful sustainable initiatives at small airports nationwide. These airports have enjoyed great success with their sustainability initia- tives. Although the airport industry will benefit with more funding opportunities and enhanced educa- tion about sustainability, the results presented in this Synthesis of current practice are encouraging. FUTURE RESEARCH Although this was an expansive survey of small airports nationwide on the topic of sustainability, it will be important to conduct a similar data-gathering effort in the near future to gauge the degree of impact this synthesis report had on the number of small airports pursuing sustainable initiatives and the diversity of such initiatives.
54 More research can be performed in the area of sustainable initiatives that airports could adopt, including information about estimated costs and funding sources, including rebates and credits avail- able. Combining education with funding, as was recognized, will produce a powerful incentive for staff of small airports to pursue sustainable initiatives. Because lack of funding was a significant barrier reported by airports participating in this Syn- thesis, it will be helpful to update sustainable funding sources by state, building upon ACRP Syn- thesis 24. Maintaining a current inventory of funding opportunities for sustainable initiatives will benefit airports and increase the number of airports pursuing such initiatives.