Research Projects

Airport Guidance for Achieving Environmental Certifications

To produce a guidance document that presents airports with their options for various environmental certification and accreditation programs and provides detailed yet easy-to-follow methodology on how to obtain them.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

As the aviation industry continues to grow rapidly there has been increased pressure on airports to be environmentally conscious and sustainable. Often, pressure comes from public organizations such as surrounding community activist groups. Therefore, airports that are working to achieve environmental goals would benefit from obtaining certifications and accreditations that officially recognize their progress. There are several environmental certifications that can be obtained by airports to demonstrate commitment to the environment and sustainable growth. Available environmental certifications include, but are not limited to, the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) program, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Environmental Management System (EMS) International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard ISO14001, Envision, Parksmart, Sustainable Sites Initiative, and the Carbon Disclosure System. Each of these has different methods of achievement and reporting.

There is relatively little guidance on the available certifications and the methods to achieve them. Additionally, work done and data obtained to achieve one type of certification can often be applied to achieve others. This project would produce a single guidance document that provides details on the various environmental certifications available, and easy-to-follow instructions for achieving them, along with how to streamline their work to achieve multiple certifications as quickly and easily as possible.

The ACA program can be taken as an example of an accreditation program that is relatively complex. There are four certifications with increasing levels of carbon management. Level 1 "Mapping" includes an airport estimating its carbon footprint by computing its annual greenhouse gas emissions. Level 2 "Reduction" requires the demonstration of effective carbon management by showing emission reductions from successful projects. Level 3 "Optimization" requires airports to coordinate with stakeholders to reduce non-airport controlled emission sources. The highest level of certification, Level 3+ "Neutrality", requires airports to achieve carbon neutrality, which typically requires purchasing carbon offsets. The ACA program is an excellent avenue to demonstrate achievement in emission reduction efforts and the guidance document will help airports through the ACA process.

While previous ACRP projects such as ACRP Report 56 Handbook for Considering Practical Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Strategies for Airports, and ACRP Report 43, Guidebook of Practices for Improving Environmental Performance at Small Airports greatly help airports to reduce their impacts on the environment, they do not help airports earn recognition for their efforts. This project will provide airports with everything the need to achieve impressive environmental certifications.

Approach to Research:
This project would be broken down into the following tasks:

  1. Literature review - an extensive review of the available certification, accreditation and environmental reporting programs available to airports and the methods airports must apply them. The literature review will identify areas that can be streamlined between certifications and identify successful methods airports have previously used.
  2. Guidance document development - based on the literature review, an easy-to-follow guidance document will be prepared that first reviews the available certifications for airports then details methods of achieving them.
  3. Tool development - a digital tool will also be created that airports can used to easily identify what types of certifications are available to them, the data they would need to obtain, and the methods to apply. The tool will ideally be able to prepare applications based on user input as well.
  4. Review and validation - the guidance document and the tool will be reviewed by airport personnel who would be applying the outcomes of this project.
  5. Refinement and Final documents - based on the feedback, the guidance and tool materials will be improved and finalized.

It is intended that the outcomes of the project will be usable for airports of all sizes and types.

Related Research:
• ACRP 02-82, Developing a Roadmap to Achieve Zero Emissions at Airports (pending)
• ACRP Synthesis 66, Lessons Learned from Airport Sustainability Plans (2016)
• ACRP 03-12, Guidebook for Preparing Peak Period and Operational Profiles to Improve Airport Facility Planning and Environmental Analyses (2012)
• ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S02-07, Integrating Environmental Sustainability into Airport Contracts (2012)
• ACRP Report 56, Handbook for Considering Practical Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Strategies for Airports (2011)
• ACRP 02-13, A Guidebook for Improving Environmental Performance at Small Airports (2010)
• ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S02-05, Strategies and Financing Opportunities for Airport Environmental Programs (2010)
• ACRP Synthesis 10, "Airport Sustainability Practices" (2008)

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

To produce a guidance document that presents airports with their options for various environmental certification and accreditation programs and provides detailed yet easy-to-follow methodology on how to obtain them.

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Idea No. 84

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