Sustainability; Best Practices

Industry seeks airport-specific guidelines; meanwhile, some get ahead of the curve


Hawvermale says that the Indianapolis Airport Authority board wanted the new midfield terminal project to be as sustainable as possible. The board wanted accountability; it wanted a way to demonstrate that the project had accomplished sustainability and, as a result, chose to follow the LEED program.

While adhering to the LEED standard, the midfield terminal project had concerns about standing water and attracting wildlife. “Under the USGBC, there are points for doing things with drainage that could lead to attracting wildlife; there have been challenges from that mindset,” comments Hawvermale. “What you might have in a normal office setting in terms of green spaces and various kinds of water features are not things that we want to encourage at an airport.

“I think it would be useful if in the airport industry, there was more dialogue and experience-sharing in terms of what is going on. The more minds we have thinking about a situation, there’s more potential for innovation and there is a synergy among them.”

Disseminating Best Practices
DFW’s Crites, who is also the aviation group chair for the Transportation Research Board under the National Academies of Sciences, states that airports are benefiting from LEED in regards to how facilities are designed and constructed. TRB’s aviation group is taking it a step further by setting up the Project Panel on the Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Problems, an aviation sustainability subcommittee under the Airport Cooperative Research Program chaired by Burr Stewart, strategic planning manager for the Port of Seattle.

According to Crites, the aviation group is using this mechanism not only as a forum to identify best practices in any industry in regards to sustainable development, but also to distribute information to all airports and any interested parties.

“Where we go with sustainability is a step beyond LEED in that we’re very interested in the day-to-day operations of facilities,” says Crites. “So while LEED takes on [constructing] a new facility, we believe there are many benefits from how you operate that facility and how [the airport] operates in general.”

The step beyond LEED is what is called the Asset Development Sustainability Initiative (ADSI), which takes into account where an airport is getting its source materials. ADSI encourages the use of local suppliers so that the total energy consumed to construct a building is minimized. ADSI also encourages airports to take advantage of efficient lighting, heating, and cooling, and use wear-resistant materials, among other things.

Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) has also put together a sustainability initiative that looks at the different practices that are happening at airports across the board.

Carol Lurie, a senior planner with the consulting firm Vanasse Hangen and Brustlin, Inc., is a member of the ACI-NA subcommittee on sustainability. She reports that ACI-NA is working to come up with something that is LEED-like, but also attempting to figure out what makes the most sense.

“What we’re trying to do is figure out what best suits the industry,” says Lurie. “The problem with LEED is that it really looks at it from a building-to-building facility approach, and what we want to do is a citywide approach, or an airport-wide approach.

“How can you understand an air quality program airport-wide if you’re only focusing on it from building-to-building?”

At PDX, an emphasis on waste disposal
PDX is currently using a recycling program that not only recycles all the typical materials (paper, plastic, glass, etc,) but food waste as well. The airport is recycling both pre- and post-consumer food waste that is shipped off to a composting facility. Not only is the recycling happening in the kitchen, but food waste that is collected from tables cleared in the dining areas is recycled as well. PDX, however, is not capturing 100 percent of the food waste — some of the food is cleared by the consumer in food court areas.

“It is a huge diversion of waste from the landfill,” says Koshuta, who has been working closely with the concessionaires at PDX. “We did a lot of outreach [to vendors] when we started the program. We do a lot of training for their kitchen staff, because that’s really where the rubber hits the road.” The kitchen workers have three separate trash bins: recyclable, compostable — which uses different, compostable bags — and regular trash.

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