National Academies Press: OpenBook

Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts (2019)

Chapter: Chapter 4 - Conclusions and Suggested Research

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Page 80
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Conclusions and Suggested Research." 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 4 - Conclusions and Suggested Research." 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 4 - Conclusions and Suggested Research." 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 4 - Conclusions and Suggested Research." 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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Page 83

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80 Conclusions and Suggested Research In recognition of the forecasted growth in air travel, coupled with an increasingly documented need to reduce GHG emissions generated at and around airports, today’s airports are working on both the airside and the landside to establish practices, programs, and standards that limit, decrease, and even eliminate GHG emissions from necessary functions. Airports are assessing GHG emissions as part of their long-term planning on the basis of economic viability, opera- tional efficiency, natural resource conservation, and social responsibility (EONS). This report draws on literature and data to present a comprehensive review of the lessons learned by airports in their attempts to reduce GHG emissions, particularly since 2012 and the release of ACRP Report 56: Handbook for Considering Practical Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Strategies for Airports. Findings and conclusions are summarized in the following sections. 4.1 Findings The findings of this study are gleaned from a synthesis of literature research, industry survey, and in-depth case example study. The literature review confirms that a broad array of technologies, tools, and programs have continued to evolve since 2012. It also emphasizes the important role that energy efficiency plays as a financially effective measure in achieving GHG emission reductions at airports. The existing literature highlights the following: a broader application of renewable energy and other increas- ingly feasible technologies, the wider adoption of industry-wide standards and tools that enable the consistent measurement of GHG emissions, and the growing potential for airport-specific GHG programs and incentive-based reduction initiatives. The industry survey reveals that many airports, large and small, find energy efficiency mea- sures to be the most cost-effective way to reduce GHG emissions. At the same time, respondents acknowledged the effectiveness of implementing a wide variety of innovative practices, ranging in scope from green roofs, to solar thermal, to alternative transportation. Every large-hub airport responding has prepared a GHG inventory compared to 43% of other respondents. In addition, 31% of large hubs have prepared CAPs compared with 20% for all respondents. These results suggest that large hubs are far ahead of other airports in measuring GHGs, but not as far ahead in developing CAPs. Finally, cost savings were identified as the primary driver for implementing GHG reduction initiatives followed by sustainability, climate protection, and local air quality. Practices deemed “most effective” in the survey show that energy efficiency, which cuts operat- ing costs while simultaneously reducing GHGs, can be both a feasible and practical approach to reducing emissions. These initiatives are readily adaptable by larger and smaller airports alike. The case example interviews provide further insight into airport experience with implement- ing and operating GHG reduction initiatives. The case examples highlight a variety of different C H A P T E R 4

Conclusions and Suggested Research 81 initiatives implemented since 2012, with each offering lessons learned specific to the technol- ogy and circumstances. Some initiatives are technically well established and available for broad adoption across the industry (e.g., electrification of ground support equipment), while others have had limited deployment (e.g., solar thermal), but may provide similar benefits to other airports with comparable climate and operational conditions. Overall, the airports proposed case examples that were found to be effective and many represent models for how other airports might pursue a similar effort. In the survey, airports that had indicated that they had not implemented GHG initiatives were asked to identify the primary barrier, with 62% indicating either financial or human resource constraints. With 90% of the large-, medium-, and small-hub airports stating that they had implemented GHG initiatives, the majority of those responding to these barriers are nonhubs and general aviation airports with corresponding resources in these areas. None of the respon- dents identified barriers to implementing specific practices. However, many implementations presented challenges that led to lessons learned on the basis of an experience with a particular practice that could be beneficial to another airport considering the same practice. 4.2 Conclusions On the basis of the findings discussed earlier, this report has the following conclusions: • Airport GHG reduction actions are considered in the context of the large proportion of aviation sector emissions produced by aircraft. This condition does not diminish the impor- tance of individual airport actions that they control (Scope 1 and 2), but also emphasizes the important role of airports in supporting the long-term benefits of transitioning aircraft to sustainable aviation fuels. • Energy efficiency, whether applied to overall building design, heating and cooling infrastruc- ture, or lighting systems, is the most effective practice and is universally available to all airports. • As a group, large-hub airports have completed the most work related to GHG reduction efforts since 2012 due in part to greater public pressure on the volume of emissions they pro- duce, the resources and in-house expertise available to assess the issue, and access to networks enabling coordination with other airports in the industry to share lessons learned. • Survey results and case examples suggest that smaller airports have a valuable role in both adopting (as in solar thermal heating) and furthering (as in LED runway lighting) practices that measurably reduce GHG emissions and that are available to all airports. • As technologies and consumer practices continue to rapidly evolve (e.g., ridesharing, electric vehicles, alternative fuels), airports can adopt new measures to capitalize on emission-reduction opportunities. • When adopting new GHG reduction technologies, it is particularly important for airports to remain flexible when working with federal agencies, source manufacturers, and stakeholder communities. • Funding for GHG reducing technologies, such as electrification, alternatives fuels, and renew- able energy, has become more accessible as technologies are proven to be safe, reliable, and cost-effective. • The FAA has created specific funding pathways and programs for airports to assess and imple- ment practices that directly result in GHG reductions. These projects often demonstrate clear and measurable environmental benefits that may attract participation of other funding partners. • Airport Carbon Accreditation is the only airport-specific framework for identifying, manag- ing, and reducing carbon emissions, and U.S. airports are increasingly engaging in the pro- gram. With 26 airports in the United States currently accredited, there is an opportunity to increase participation.

82 Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts • The Good Traveler Program offers airport partners an opportunity to actively influence travelers passing through their facilities to offset their emissions. Passenger participation is influenced by airport actions to promote the program. Other carbon offset vendors have not created a strong link to airport reduction goals. • While many airports are adopting measures, a much smaller number of airports is validating results. However, when airports appropriately design and install proven practices, and operate and maintain them as directed, measurable GHG emissions can readily be proven in energy use reductions on utility bills. • While master planning is fundamental to building the case for implementing GHG reduction practices, smaller airports with limited staff and budget are developing projects in response to operational needs and increased funding incentives without extensive planning. • Some barriers to implementing GHG reduction practices, such as limited staff time and fund- ing options, can be addressed by identifying practices that modernize systems, economize budgets, and simultaneously reduce GHG emissions. • Regardless of the driving reason for project implementation (whether economic, environ- mental, or simply operational), a wide array of practices that result in GHG reduction are increasingly actionable at all airports. 4.3 Suggested Research The research conducted as part of this project has generated new information that will be use- ful to airports considering future GHG reduction efforts. It has also uncovered areas in which there are gaps in the knowledge and in which additional research would be beneficial. Airport staff responding to the industry survey have also specified the types of information that they will need to pursue future projects. The following research needs have been identified: • Update to ACRP Report 56. The findings summarized herein demonstrate the value of ACRP Report 56 as a resource, including the organization and presentation of GHG reduction strat- egies and the process for their evaluation. However, because of advances in technology and changes in markets, it would be helpful if the technical and financial information presented in ACRP Report 56 were refreshed. • A central repository for GHG inventory and reduction data for individual airport authori- ties and the industry to measure progress and inspire other airports. The research has shown that there is a significant amount of information available that is not organized and accessible. This report represents an important summary of the type of information that is available. The next logical step is to develop a reference of airport GHG inventory data and reduction efforts. It could be organized in a template format allowing readers to compare information from different airports. It would also provide airports with a loca- tion for reporting their progress. • Analysis and reporting of U.S. airport involvement in the Airport Carbon Accreditation Program and measures being implemented to reach accreditation levels. This type of report would have a similar objective as the previous, but it would be focused on presenting informa- tion already collected and reported to the program by airports. The information could then be sent to other airports that may be interested in replicating the Airport Carbon Accreditation application and data prepared by others. • Study of airport energy-efficiency projects, including lighting and heating and cooling sys- tems, to determine extent of progress particularly for general aviation airports. This research could, in part, represent an update to ACRP Synthesis 21: Airport Energy Efficiency and Cost Reduction, with a focus on progress since 2010.

Conclusions and Suggested Research 83 • Assessment of programmatic solutions for GHG reductions that do not require significant capital investment but do require unique management and operational systems. Two solu- tion examples are carbon offsetting and transportation network company management programs. The study could produce agreement templates currently used by airports that are ready for adoption by others, thereby facilitating widespread adoption throughout the industry. • Accurate survey of the total number of U.S. airport that have employed gate electrification and eGSE projects, and their GHG reduction performance. While this information is changing year-to-year, there is a significant amount of financial resources available for the conversion of diesel-powered GSE to electric (see Table 3-5). It is important to monitor progress on the industries fleet conversion and assess the effectiveness of funding programs. • A study assessing the opportunity of replicating the use of alternative transportation fuels, with emphasis on renewable landfill gas in building and transportation uses at U.S. airports.

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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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