The National Academies

ACRP 11-08(16-02) [Final]

Forum on Economic and Social Sustainability at Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $150,000
Effective Date: 11/9/2016
Completion Date: 12/31/2018

FAA sustainability programs have invigorated sustainability planning, often to the point of full integration with airport master plans. Significant attention has been given to waste, water, energy, and natural resources, building on decades of a still growing environmental movement. The new “era of green” is now spreading to smaller airports without incentive funding.  However, among most airports, planning and reporting on social and economic sustainability appear conventional. This apparent lack of innovation may reflect a general stasis in two key areas: economic and social sustainability or it may be a byproduct of airports lacking a common language for reporting and discussing their more innovative social and economic activities. Research is needed to identify the different taxonomies used globally by domestic and international airports to frame planning that accomplishes social and economic sustainability goals, identify innovation in both areas, and develop a set of commonly accepted good practices that fall outside conventional measures in use for economic (jobs created, GDP generated) and social (pay equity, safety records) sustainability.

The objective of this research is to convene an Academy industry forum to discuss airport social and economic sustainability practices. The forum could feature “innovative” case presentations to demonstrate lessons learned and, where possible, performance indicators. This topic could include background information highlighting a base set of globally accepted performance indicators, accepted best practice program descriptions, and other resources helpful in establishing or improving delivery of conventional social and economic sustainability initiatives. Presentations could examine traditional taxonomies for classifying social and economic initiatives, along with a brief description of lessons learned by airport leaders in adoption of conventional programs and reporting systems. Presentations could also provide introductory context to help readers understand the magnitude of the innovations illustrated in each case.


The day-and-a-half event occurred on May 7 and 8, 2018.  The presentations can be found here: https://www.trb.org/ACRP/ACRP-Insight-Event-Economic-Social-Sustainability.aspx.  A report summarizing the discussion will be available in the late summer of 2018.

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