by Cynthia Parker
City of Phoenix Aviation Department
Yesterday was the 44th anniversary of Earth Day, and it’s now 43 years after the inauguration of the Environmental Protection Agency and 45 years since the Cuyahoga River fire brought national attention to water pollution in the U.S. With these landmarks in mind, does Earth Day still matter or are we “done”?
As U.S. and Canadian airport environmental representatives met last week in Baltimore to share information (and as the deadline for this blog loomed) it occurred to me that my fellow attendees, these “airport environmental experts” sitting around me, have dedicated their careers and considerable talents to understanding and reducing the impacts of airports and the aviation industry on the environment.
We have successfully collaborated over the last decades with business partners and governmental agencies to reduce aircraft noise, deleterious runoff to local water bodies, improved air quality, and instituted practices that have reduced the more immediate impacts of aviation on the environment. Well done!
Now that these programs have been set in place, we see that national and global focus is on resources – energy generation, fuels, upper atmospheric gas composition, and water as a resource. I consider this the highest form of “conservatism” – to create and support a robust and healthy economy, peoples and ecology.
Here at Phoenix Sky Harbor, we are embarking on a major terminal modernization project. Discussions of U.S. Green Building Council LEED standards, building energy modeling during the design and enhanced commissioning to reduce long term costs are met with hardly an eye blink! We are also mid-way in developing a sustainability management plan where the next steps to our conservation goals and practices will be vetted.
I hope we will all use the perhaps-not-so-dated concept of Earth Day to reaffirm our commitment to the natural world on which we all depend.