The National Academies

ACRP 02-82 [Active]

Developing a Roadmap to Achieve Zero Emissions at Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Cadmus Group, LLC
Principal Investigator: Geoff Morrison
Effective Date: 6/20/2018
Completion Date: 10/19/2019

There is a growing global objective to reduce emissions from all sources. The introduction and improvements in current technologies that reduce or eliminate emissions have resulted in cleaner air. While aviation is growing, it represents a relatively small percentage of overall emissions and as new technologies become viable, aviation will represent a larger percentage of overall emissions, and will thus see increasing pressure to reduce or eliminate emissions.
Airports are seeking to reduce or eliminate emissions by taking advantage of state and federal programs, cleaner energy, and improvements in ground transportation, and by partnering with their tenants, such as the airlines,  to reduce ground service equipment (GSE) emissions. 
The industry is finding that there are several ways in which zero emissions can be defined. In fact, some consider zero emissions to mean zero net emissions, i.e., no new emissions. While there are some zero emissions technologies like solar and wind, these are not yet developed enough to sustain our energy requirements. And there are no standards across industries for what zero emissions mean, especially within aviation.   
The infrastructure investment that is necessary to support zero emission technologies may involve a long planning time horizon, requiring airports to budget and build at least a couple of years before implementation and in anticipation of future needs, but airport staff don’t always know where to start. A roadmap to reduce or pursue zero emissions may assist airports in identifying policy and technology options, and in confidently making those long-term investment decisions.
The objectives of this research are to develop a (1) guidebook and (2) methodology or process that airports can use to develop a roadmap to achieve zero-emissions. The roadmap should outline what projects or enabling projects airports can take in a phased approach.
The guidebook should include the following elements at a minimum:
  • Glossary of terms.
  • Benefits of zero-emissions. (See Special Note D.)
  • Ways to communicate with all stakeholders.
  • List of resources.
  • Opportunities and constraints of existing and emerging technologies.
  • Common metrics and industry benchmarks.
  • Funding opportunities.
The roadmap methodology or process should be scalable based on direct and indirect emissions, allowing airports the flexibility to define what will be included in their zero emission policies and to set their goals.  Consider the following at a minimum:
  • Local, state, and federal regulatory requirements and considerations.
  • Financial considerations.
  • Operational impacts.
  • Planning and budgeting for infrastructure investments to support future initiatives.
 Status: The research is complete and a pre-publication will be available November 2019.  The research team will be implementing their guidelines at an airport in 2020, and will update the guidelines to incorporate lessons learned on implementation.

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