National Academies Press: OpenBook

Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts (2019)

Chapter: Chapter 2 - Findings

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Findings." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25609.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Findings." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25609.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Findings." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25609.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Findings." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25609.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Findings." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25609.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Findings." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25609.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Findings." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25609.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Findings." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25609.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Findings." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25609.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Findings." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25609.
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15 Because many airports have implemented GHG projects since the publication of ACRP Report 56 in 2011, it was necessary to collect information to capture lessons learned from these initiatives. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to collect information. The quan- titative data resulted from stakeholders who selected to participate in an industry survey that requested general information on airport GHG reduction efforts. The qualitative data came from telephone interviews with select airports in which stakeholders discussed specific airport GHG efforts in detail (i.e., the case examples). This section presents the methodology and results for each of these efforts. 2.1 Methodology 2.1.1 Industry Survey The purpose of the industry survey was (1) to obtain a better understanding of the range of GHG reduction practices put into place since 2012 at a variety of airports across the United States, and (2) to determine the broader level of awareness, priority, and needs that exist in relation to implementing GHG reduction strategies. A survey of 20 questions was prepared and reviewed by the Technical Panel as part of this report’s work plan. A range of closed-ended questions was designed to collect quantifiable data and demographic information. Additionally, the survey provided open-ended questions to encourage participants to expand details or add comments not easily captured through fixed-response options. The survey (included in this report as Appendix B) was created using the web-based, interactive survey tool SoGoSurvey; it was distributed to 255 airport staff members/potential participants via email. For larger airports, sustainability and/or environmental staff contact information was identified on the basis of contacts known by the researcher or communicated by other industry sources. For smaller airports, contacts included airport managers, assistant airport managers, and technical and operations staff, and were located through staff directories and airport information sites. Airport staff that had participated in previous ACRP research panels were also identified. There was some initial difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of responses because the SoGoSurvey distribution was caught in email filters and did not necessarily reach the intended recipient. Subsequently, the survey link was sent directly to every contact on the notification list through a direct email from the researcher. Some of the participants who had expressed interest participated in follow-up phone calls to expand on the information they had provided. A concerted effort to avoid bias in survey data collection was made by following the recom- mended practices of keeping questions short and clear, avoiding leading questions, using a range of interval scale options, and keeping the time required to respond to the survey brief. The survey C H A P T E R 2 Findings

16 Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts was mapped for relevance so that respondents answering “no” or “not applicable” to a specific question did not receive follow-up questions on that specific topic. Even with these measures in place, a limited bias is likely because survey respondents may be more invested in environmental concerns or GHG reduction work than those who chose not to participate. 2.1.2 Case Example Interviews The purpose of the case example interviews was to gather qualitative information to help pre- pare summaries of a variety of GHG emission reduction practices that, ultimately, would offer lessons learned to other airports considering similar initiatives. A minimum of 10 case examples was set as a target, with a goal of including GHG reduction practices from a variety of airports in size and geography that are applicable to the widest audience. The practices selected were initially identified from those listed in ACRP Report 56, with the intent of illustrating a variety of initiatives associated with alternative fuels, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and ground transportation. Of the 17 potential practices and associated airports identified through prelimi- nary study and listed in the work plan, nine were developed for this report and an additional eight were prepared on the basis of additional investigation. A questionnaire designed to guide the collection of information from each airport was pre- pared and then approved by the Technical Panel, a copy of which is included as Appendix C. The research problem statement specified that case examples should present information on the ease of implementation, lessons learned, effectiveness, and cobenefits. Airports were contacted via telephone to determine their interest in participating and to confirm the appropriate GHG reduction effort, ensuring that no single effort would be duplicated. The airport then frequently supplied background information in the form of plans, reports, PowerPoint presentations, and news articles to provide practical information on the effort. This communication was followed by a phone interview in which the questionnaire was used to validate practical information on the effort and to collect new information not otherwise documented. The results of the case example work are included in Chapter 3. 2.2 Industry Survey Results All of the airports that responded to the survey are listed in Appendix D. The following section summarizes the responses in aggregate and by airport type. 2.2.1 Summary of the Data Ninety-nine survey responses were received. Two were thrown out: one was not from an airport but from a government planning office in a municipality without an airport and the other appeared to be a duplicate from an airport that had already responded. This left 97 usable responses—96 from U.S. airports along with one Canadian airport—which are summarized here. The breakdown of responses by airport size, defined by the categories identified by the FAA in Table 2-1, is shown in Figure 2-1. There were responses from 18 large airports, 16 medium airports, 15 small airports, 29 nonhub airports, and 19 general aviation airports. Figure 2-2 shows the geographic location of the respondents and the distribution by airport type. Responses were provided by airports from 40 U.S. states. There was one response from a Canadian airport, which was also included. The respondents were asked to identify their position at the airport—a little more than half of the respondents provided this information. In general, smaller airports were represented by

Findings 17 Large Commercial service airports with 1% or more of annual passenger enplanements 30 17 (plus 1 from Canada) Medium Commercial service airports with between 0.25% and 1% of annual passenger enplanements 31 16 Small Commercial service airports with between 0.05% and 0.25% of annual passenger enplanements 70 15 Nonhub Commercial service airports with less than 0.05% of annual passenger enplanements 255 29 General Aviation Noncommercial service airports including reliever airports 974 19 Hub Types Examples Total Airports (2017) Airports that Responded Table 2-1. Survey respondents by FAA airport classifications. Figure 2-1. Survey responses by airport type.

18 Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts Airport Directors or Assistant Directors, while larger airports were represented by a variety of related disciplines (see Figure 2-3.) Of the 97 survey respondents: • 19 (19%) have a staff person responsible for GHG emission issues • 23 (24%) have prepared a Climate Action Plan • 44 (45%) have prepared a GHG inventory • 73 (75%) have implemented at least one type of GHG reduction initiative. Legend Large Medium Small Nonhub General Aviation Figure 2-2. Location of survey respondents by airport type. Figure 2-3. Positions held by survey respondents.

Findings 19 Table 2-2 presents the GHG planning initiatives by airport type, as reported by survey respondents. For those airports that have not yet implemented GHG reduction initiatives, the primary reasons given were limitations in human resources (16 responses) and financial resources (15 responses). Figure 2-4 details all of the reasons survey respondents gave for not yet pursuing GHG reduction efforts and the percentage of responses for all answers. Large Medium Small Nonhub Number of Responses Airports with Dedicated Staff Airports with Climate Plans Airports with GHG Inventories Implemented GHG Practices General Aviation 19 5% 16% 11% 53% 29 7% 14% 28% 59% 15 7% 13% 33% 87% 16 31% 50% 69% 88% 18 89% 33% 94% 100% Table 2-2. Airport GHG planning and implementation by airport type. Figure 2-4. Reasons airports have not pursued GHG reduction efforts.

20 Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts The top drivers for implementing GHG reduction efforts are detailed in Figure 2-5. Cost reduction was listed by 30 airports as the single top driver followed by sustainability (13 airports) and local air quality (12 airports). Sustainability was listed as among the top three drivers by the most airports (61). The primary drivers for GHG reduction efforts are included in Figure 2-6 as reported by airport type. Cost reduction is the largest response in total with contributions from all airport types. Cli- mate protection was the highest indicated by general aviation airports. Large-hub airports were the only airports surveyed that did not select local air quality as one of their top three drivers. Airports that have implemented GHG efforts were asked to identify the most effective practice on the basis of their overall experience (see Table 2-3 for these results). Energy efficiency com- prised almost half of the responses. Airports were asked to rank the ease of implementation of the GHG reduction initiative they had identified as most effective. Respondents indicated an average level of difficulty in imple- menting those initiatives (see Figure 2-7). Figure 2-5. Top drivers for implementing GHG reduction efforts. Note: GA = general aviation. Figure 2-6. Primary drivers for implementing GHG reduction efforts, by airport type.

Findings 21 Energy Efficiency 23 36% L = 7 M = 4 S = 3 N = 7 GA = 5 More efficient heating and cooling equipment; LED lighting; LEED buildings; converting from diesel heating to electric Renewable Energy 14 22% L = 2 M = 5 S = 1 N = 4 GA = 2 Purchasing wind power; installing solar PV, solar hot water, geothermal, and biomass systems Alternative Transportation 12 19% L = 5 M = 4 S = 2 N = 1 GA = 0 Conversion of diesel buses to CNG, RNG, and electric vehicles; charging stations Airside Electrification 10 16% L = 3 M = 2 S = 2 N = 2 GA = 1 Charging stations for GSE; gate electrification equipment Other 4 6% L = 0 M = 0 Green roof; reuse of construction material reducing S = 3 N = 0 GA = 1 vehicle trips; cropland for biofuel feedstock Note: L = large; M = medium; S = small; N = nonhub; GA = general aviation; LEED = leadership in energy and environmental design; CNG= compressed natural gas; RNG = renewable natural gas. Project Type No of Responses Percentage By Airport Type Examples Table 2-3. Most effective GHG efforts as indicated by survey respondents.

22 Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts Airports were also asked to select from a list of conclusions to indicate which ones were appli- cable to the specific GHG reduction initiative implemented. As shown in Figure 2-8, the most selected conclusion was that the GHG reduction effort provided measurable results (47), fol- lowed by the conclusion that the GHG reduction effort required cooperation among internal aviation departments (46). When asked if GHG reduction efforts would be prioritized in the next five years, 67 airports responded in the affirmative. Respondents were then asked to rank the level of priority on a five-point scale (see Figure 2-9). When airports were asked to choose whether information related to funding, regulations, or technology would be most helpful in pursuing GHG reduction efforts, a majority of the airports responded that funding was most important (see Figure 2-10). Figure 2-7. Survey respondents rank ease of implementation for most effective GHG practices. Figure 2-8. Conclusions applicable to the effective GHG reduction practices.

Findings 23 2.2.2 Respondents’ Comments The respondents were also asked to include additional comments. The following comments provide valuable lessons learned. • “Everything takes a considerable amount of time to implement, so patience is essential. Once a new system is in place (e.g., PCAir [pre-conditioned air], eGSE charging stations), that doesn’t mean you’ve got immediate benefit. You have to continue to work with your partners to make sure those systems are working for all external partners and it’s still a priority inter- nally for the airport to keep those systems working well for the customer.” • “We made the changes only to save on utility bills.” • “Retrofitting lighting is very easy and easy to sell to skeptical parties. HVAC upgrades are effective too but can be limited. I also feel like small airports cap out very quickly as to what they can effectively accomplish.” Figure 2-10. Information most helpful to supporting airport GHG reduction efforts. Figure 2-9. Priority placed on GHG reduction efforts in the next five years.

24 Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts • “It has to have the full support of the director/president. The leader has to fully embrace the initiative.” • “Emission reduction projects need to have a strong business case. They need to both improve the environment and save money—or benefit the community and make operations more efficient.” • “Central plants are a big hurdle for many airports where the primary fuel is natural gas. Decarbonizing central plants, especially ones with cogeneration units, is difficult because bio- gas options are very limited and still expensive, a nonstarter for airports given the volume of gas burned. We are programming an all-electric heat-recovery chiller plant in our long-range development plan, which must undergo regulatory, permitting, and other approvals.” • “Many of the more impactful emission reduction measures (such as the eGSE example described above) tend not to clear the internal hurdle rates and are difficult to fit into a capital plan. For this reason, it is extremely important to partner with the airlines and any other third parties who might help defray the cost of installation.” • “Airports can only do so much; others have to take advantage of resources. That said, the technology offered has to be a cost-efficient, practical, and reliable alternative.” • “We have also reduced electrical use by installing LED lighting on all airfield roadways and parking lots. We are now starting on the terminal building. The roadway and parking lot improvements have resulted in a 52% reduction in electricity costs.” • “How to deal with aircraft emissions has been an issue of discussion regarding our plan- ning. The question of whether or not to include these in our plan was difficult. We ended up including aircraft emissions from the surface to 3,000 feet. We are not sure if these emissions are incorporated into other reduction plans or if they are being double counted by us and someone else.” • “In a climate as severe as [the Southwest], it’s all about energy. Ninety percent of our footprint is from energy for cooling. It would be good to get dedicated FAA funding and direction on GHG reduction.” • “Most of the concepts sound good on the surface and can show a reduction on paper, but don’t really reduce emissions and are expensive to implement.” • “Alternative fuels were a relatively easy project to undertake since our shuttle buses just work the airfield. Lighting efficiency was another easy implementation.” • “It would be nice to see a ranking of initiatives, for example, low hanging fruit to BIG ideas and what these initiatives typically cost. That way airport sustainability personnel can use this ranking to convince executives to pull some fruit. Thanks!” • “Generally, GHG decisions at the airport are based on a combination of good neighbor policies, providing a superior guest experience, meeting regulatory requirements, and the financial capability to undertake. Planning for future GHG/environmental improvements is important in capital project planning. [Our airport] implemented PCA [pre-conditioned air], gate electric, hydrant fueling, and electric GSE requirements in the 1990s through the 2000s when undergoing a major expansion. In addition, facilities were built with the future in mind; for instance, parking garage roofs are solar ready, anticipating the day it would be economical and viable at a small footprint airport.” • “I am a very small general aviation airport with more than 70 based aircraft. We are privately owned and public use. A yearly decrease in pilot-based aircraft affects my ability to fund large projects. This does interest me greatly. But we do not receive any federal FAA funding because we are not a 24-hour or deliver airport. Thanks.”

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Airports in the United States are responding to the demand for increased air travel with sustainable development that incorporates more energy-efficient and lower-emission technologies. Funding for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions-reducing technologies, such as electrification, alternative fuels, and renewable energy, has also become more accessible as technologies are proven to be safe, reliable, and cost-effective.

Newer strategies and programs to reduce GHG emissions reach beyond airport operations to incorporate the traveling public. These are among the findings in the TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Synthesis 100: Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts. The report assesses (1) the state of practice of GHG emissions reduction initiatives at airports, and (2) the lessons learned to support the successful implementation of future GHG reduction projects.

The report also finds that large airports are taking the lead in moving beyond reduction strategies for their own emissions and tackling those produced by tenants and the traveling public by supporting the use of alternative fuels and directing passengers to airport carbon offset platforms.

It is clear that airports regard energy-efficiency measures to be the most effective practice to reducing GHG emissions. Smaller airports, in particular, are adopting new technologies associated with more efficient heating and cooling infrastructure and lighting systems because they decrease energy consumption and make economic sense. GHG reduction projects are being implemented by different types of airports across the industry because of the cost savings and the environmental benefits of the new technology.

Airports are actively benchmarking emission-reduction progress in comparison with similar efforts at airports around the world by using frameworks employed by the industry globally, such as the Airport Carbon Accreditation Program and the airport carbon emissions reporting tool (ACERT), to measure their GHG emissions.

Innovative approaches are allowing airports to address rapidly changing consumer behaviors, like those presented in recent years by transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft. These policy-based solutions offer the potential for wider adoption as they enable airports to act without significant capital expenditures.

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