Airport operators across the country and around the world have embraced sustainability and are implementing programs or initiatives at their facilities. Along with benefiting their communities and the environment, airports are finding that sustainability makes good business sense. Airports that have adopted sustainable practices have found substantial benefits including reduced capital asset life cycle costs, reduced operating costs, better customer service and satisfaction, and enhanced relationships with their neighbors.
When embarking on a sustainability program, it is critical for each airport to determine its specific definition of sustainability. This is an important step that establishes the groundwork for future planning and implementation.
Within the airport context, sustainability has broad implications throughout the entire system, including energy consumption; environmental impacts; and overall facility life-cycle costs.
Many airports operators understand that initiating and implementing a sustainability program often results in numerous benefits to the airport. These include:
Sustainability can be measured through metrics developed by an airport operator or another party. Such metrics are useful for establishing baselines, identifying trends, predicting problems, assessing options, setting performance goals or targets, and evaluating a particular project or airport organization/enterprise. Today, the most common set of metrics include the rating system developed by USGBC as well as the set of sustainability metrics by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The USGBC’s LEED® program is discussed in more detail below.