Airports reduce their carbon footprint

In 2018, nearly 4.5 billion travelers arrived and departed from airports worldwide. Airlines have been finding ways for those 45 million flights to leave less of a carbon footprint.[1] At the same time, many airports have been measuring, reducing, and offsetting the impact of the facilities, infrastructure, and ground transportation that they provide.[2]

Airport industry response

In 2009, the European region of Airports Council International (ACI Europe) initiated a program to reduce airport carbon footprints. More than 30 airports committed to achieving accreditation within one year. In September 2009 Frankfurt Airport (FRA) was first to be awarded Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA).[3]

ACI Europe expanded the ACA program scope worldwide in 2014. Forty-eight new airports participated in 2018.[4] Today, 275 airports in 71 countries participate. More than 3.6 billion travelers pass through those facilities,[5]

Among the quantified successes, CO2 emissions were reduced by 382,000 tons between May 2017 and May 2018. That equates to the amount of CO2 that eight million trees would absorb over a 10-year period.

Accreditation requirements

The program is scalable to the daily operations of any airport. It promotes continual improvement in carbon management through four levels of achievement:[6]

  • Mapping

    The accreditation process begins with identifying where carbon is being emitted within the airport operational boundary. Annual carbon emission for each of those locations is calculated and then compiled to produce a carbon footprint report.

  • Reduction

    After Mapping Level accreditation is verified, accreditation focuses on Reduction of emissions using carbon management procedures. The procedures themselves are evaluated along with progress toward footprint reduction at each targeted location.

  • Optimization

    The scope of an airport carbon footprint involves third parties, whether on that property or in the vicinity. To achieve ACA program Optimization, any third parties that are significant carbon emission sources must be engaged in reducing them.

  • Neutrality

    After all requirements of the previous three levels have been fulfilled, remaining direct and indirect emissions within the airport’s control are offset through one or more of these instruments:

    • Certified Emission Reductions
    • Emissions Reduction Units
    • Proprietary Verified Emission Reductions
    • European Union Allowance

    With any remaining carbon footprint erased through offsets, the goal of Neutrality at every airport-managed location is achieved.

Related initiatives

Along with certification, the now-global Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) program promotes many airport climate action initiatives. These include:[7]

  • Designing efficient facilities that limit environmental impact
  • Upgrading to energy-efficient lighting and HVAC
  • Conserving energy and water
  • Switching to hybrid or electric ground vehicles
  • Producing renewable energy on-site
  • Engaging vendors and other stakeholders
  • Offering passengers and employees greener transport solutions to and from the airport

As airports participate in carbon accreditation and climate action initiatives, the ACI shares news and successes within the industry, with governments, and with the public.

The North American scorecard

Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) reports that 300 airports in the United States and Canada participate in Airport Carbon Accreditation. That gives ACI-NA the largest regional total, with 40 of the airports accredited at the first level or above.[7]

Ten ACI-NA airports are at the Mapping level. Another 15 have reached the Reduction level. Fourteen airports have achieved ACA program Optimization while serving 23.6% of North American passenger traffic. Nine at that level are in the United States:

  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Stewart International Airport (SWF)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • Teterboro Airport (TEB)
  • Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

As of July 2019, only one ACI – NA airport has been accredited at level 4, Neutrality. Based on its praiseworthy carbon emission reductions, plus reduction by third parties, and carbon offsets, Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW) is recognized as the first ACI – NA airport and the largest airport in the world to achieve carbon-neutral status.[8]

We at ecoPreserve would love to share news of progress toward carbon neutrality in other industries as well. Please leave a note on the Contact page. Your insights will be published in updates or additional articles this fall. Thank you!

[1] AFAR.com
[2] USAToday.com
[3] AirportCarbonAccreditation.org – The story so far
[4] Airport-World.com
[5] AirportCO2.com
[6] AirportCarbonAccreditation.org – 4 levels of accreditation
[7] AirportCarbonAccreditation.org — Airports and CO2
[8] TravelPulse.com

Mital Hall

Mital Hall

Vice President at ecoPreserve
As ecoPreserve Vice President, Mital leads all sustainability projects for new and existing buildings. She has more than 15 years of experience in sustainable and Smart Cities development, including work with universities; federal, state and local governments; and businesses. Her skill set includes strategic planning, sustainable process improvement, reporting, third-party green building certifications, ISO compliance, and energy efficiency program administration.
Mital Hall

@ecopreserve

We empower organizations to reduce environmental impact, improve efficiency, and improve quality of life.
@ecoPreserve’s List: Buildings_made_safer In a pandemic, how can a building be made safer for occupants and for the… https://t.co/2446Jq2lPH - 4 days ago

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.