The National Academies

ACRP 02-69 [Final]

Integrating Airport Sustainability and the NEPA Process

  Project Data
Funds: $324,545
Research Agency: VHB
Principal Investigator: Carol Lurie
Effective Date: 9/29/2016
Completion Date: 9/28/2018


Airports use sustainability initiatives to increase their economic and operational performance, reduce their environmental effects, and enhance their social benefits. Separately, airports also undertake capital development projects, which may require National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. However, to date, sustainability and environmental review efforts have not been well integrated. This is often because many airports may not know how to, or are not able to, take advantage of their sustainability efforts during the NEPA process. For example, when an airport proposes an action, it can consider sustainability initiatives as part of the project to reduce the action’s environmental impact. Additionally, airports often do not consider the NEPA process when developing their sustainability plans and programs. There are a number of strategies that airports can use as part of their sustainability planning that will assist with airport physical planning (master planning) as well as compliance with NEPA, for example incorporating sustainability goals into the process of evaluating development alternatives. The industry’s Sustainable Aviation Guidance Alliance (SAGA) website is also a potential resource. Research is needed to help airports think strategically about how their sustainability plans and initiatives can assist with airport physical planning and aid the NEPA process.


The objective of this research is to prepare a guidebook with tools (e.g., checklists, matrices, flowcharts) to help airport practitioners integrate sustainability with the environmental analyses required under NEPA. The guidebook should address the following topics at a minimum:
  • Strategically considering the NEPA process in sustainability planning;
  • Leveraging sustainability plans and initiatives during the NEPA process;
  • Understanding the role of airport physical planning in the integration of sustainability and the NEPA process;
  • Tying sustainability initiatives (e.g., applicable initiatives listed in SAGA) to NEPA impact categories;
  • Incorporating sustainability initiatives and considering NEPA impact categories when developing the proposed action (e.g., timing of initiative implementation);
  • Fostering awareness and collaboration among stakeholders involved in planning, sustainability, and NEPA compliance;
  • Demonstrating the use of the guidance and tools through hypothetical examples; and
  • Addressing unique considerations for using the guidance and tools in other contexts (e.g., state and local environmental analysis and the Canadian environmental assessment process)


Research is complete.  Results are presented in ACRP Research Report 209.

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