The Benefits of Sustainability

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:

  • Increased competitiveness through lean operations and reduced operating and life-cycle costs
  • Greater utilization of assets
  • Reduced environmental footprint
  • Optimization of new and better technologies
  • Reduced costs of asset development
  • Improved bond ratings
  • Improved benefits to and greater support from the community
  • Improved work environment for employees leading to higher productivity
  • Reduced environmental, health and safety risks

Airport operators have weighed in on the benefits of undertaking sustainability programs at their airports.

“Our successful efforts to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of the O'Hare Modernization Program have proven that going green at airports can be cost effective. Our commitment to sustainability is an important part of our ongoing efforts to reduce the impact of the built environment, while at the same time creating financial and operational benefits for our airports. We need to embrace the best possible environmental, social and fiscally responsible practices to enhance the quality of life now and for future generations.”
Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino

“Implementation of a sustainability program can help demonstrate an airport’s commitment to minimizing the impact of its operations on the social and built environments.  By its very nature, a well developed sustainability program will result in the involvement of stakeholders (including reviewing agencies and the public) in the planning and development process.  This early involvement will result in early identification of stakeholder interests, and will help the airport communicate project features designed to minimize impacts.”
Roger Johnson, Deputy Executive Director, Los Angeles World Airports

"Through the development and implementation of our Sustainability Plan, we have paid close attention to the aspects of being responsible to the community.  It continues to provide great public relations benefits as various groups review and see our efforts in print.  We also provide our plan on our Home Page and encourage public comments and constructive input.  We get a lot of great recommendations and even proposals for assistance."
Ted Soliday, Executive Director, City of Naples Airport Authority

"Due to our extreme climate, PHX has had preconditioned power and air for decades, but more recent awareness of the 'sustainability' concept has given new momentum to innovation.  Increased focus on energy conservation resulted in a 7 percent decrease in energy use at PHX in one year. Our engineers are currently discussing bioclimatic design within the larger use of LEED® standards for new construction.  PHX recently received over a quarter million dollars in rebates from the local utility for upgrades to a terminal chiller system and a building designed to reduce solar intrusion.    In our industry, it's crucial to gain real improvements by sharing usable mechanical and lighting systems innovations."
Cynthia Parker, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

"Sustainability is a top priority for our community in Dubuque, Iowa. We recognize that there are economic, social and environmental benefits to sustainable programs and operations. This is why we work to implement sustainability in our airport through an energy- and water-efficient design for our new terminal, which will include pervious pavement and other sustainable practices."
Robert Grierson, Director, Dubuque Regional Airport

It is important to isolate specific operations and facilities within the airport management and infrastructure which can benefit from sustainable practices. For example, the ability of an airport operator to control many aspects of the activities and operations conducted by tenants of its facility are often limited.  However, the effectiveness of an airport sustainability program can be enhanced through the education, cooperation and engagement of tenants, who can see reduced operation and maintenance costs as a result of these programs.  Stakeholder engagement, particularly tenants, is key to the successful implementation and maintenance of an airport’s sustainability program.