Earth Week 2014: Montréal, a.k.a. the Airport That Planted Trees*

by Lyne Michaud and Anne Marcotte
Assistant Director, Environment and Sustainability; and Director, Communications and Social Responsibility
Aéroports de Montréal

Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) instituted a tree policy in 2009. Its goal is to protect areas of high ecological value on airport lands and mitigate the environmental impacts of projects. A number of projects have been completed pursuant to the policy.

On airport lands:

  • Planting of 721 trees, 9,443 shrubs and 37,452 plants over a total area of 18,600 m2as part of the redevelopment of the road network at Montréal–Trudeau International Airport. The redesign was inspired by the changing seasons and Québec landscapes.

  • At Montréal–Mirabel International Airport, in partnership with CO2 Environnement, ADM has planted 96,000 trees, making this the first instance in North America of a reforestation project on airport land for the purpose of carbon offsetting. The planting efforts will eventually result in 16,300 tons of CO2 offsets.

In neighboring communities:

  • Financial contribution by ADM of $38,000 in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, in collaboration with the Comité écologique du Grand Montréal. The project includes the planting of more than 900 trees and shrubs as well as many perennials, and a monarch butterfly habitat restoration and planting of native vegetation to sustain the local ruby-throated hummingbird population.
  • Jointly with the Dorval Elementary School Parents’ Committee and the City of Dorval, ADM planted 22 mature trees and a hedgerow of 450 small cedars on the grounds of Dorval Elementary.

  • ADM also is active in a project organized by Les Jardins éco-culturels de Saint-Laurent that aims to start a forest garden (producing edible and medicinal plants) in a disadvantaged area of Saint-Laurent, Québec.

Other projects are in progress, including the creation of a regional conservation park in the northernmost corner of Montréal–Trudeau International Airport’s land.

*This post’s title is a nod to the 1953 short story “L’Homme qui plantait des arbres” (“The Man Who Planted Trees”) by the French writer Jean Giono, which aimed to “make people love planting trees,” and Frederic Back, who received an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his 1987 adaptation of the same title.

Earth Week 2014: Commemorating Earth Day… Does It Still Matter?

by Cynthia Parker
Environmental Coordinator
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.

Earth Week 2014: Victoria Diversion Project Channels Good Land Stewardship

by James Bogusz
Director, Airside Operations, Technology and Environment
Victoria Airport Authority

When I was growing up on Vancouver Island, I was always told how important local food production and agriculture was for the long term health of our community.  Like many, I purchase most of my produce from a grocery store and don’t think a lot about where it comes from.  When I began working at Victoria International Airport in the early 2000’s, I noticed that we were surrounded by hay fields and farm pastures and was happy to see local agriculture in action.

When I took on the environmental portfolio in late 2010 and really began sinking my teeth in to water quality and the impacts of the various operations in our two local streams, my pre-conceived notions on sustainability and food production began to change.

There is no question that locally sourced produce is fantastic.  It supports both the local economy and is a far more sustainable way to feed a community.  But the environmental impacts of agriculture need to be closely managed.

At Victoria, we have two streams, Reay Creek and TenTen Creek.  Both waterways empty into the nearby ocean.  TenTen Creek has a fairly substantial farming operation nearby, and to help mitigate the pollution that is created through fertilizers that are applied on the farm and ultimately end up in the stream, the Victoria Airport Authority stepped up in a big way.

In 2000, the VAA and local farming operations partnered to create wetlands to treat heavily polluted water from farming operations by diverting it to a distribution pond before entering the wetlands.  The system was very effective, but during heavy rainfall events all storm water in excess of this system’s capacity overflowed directly to TenTen Creek.

In 2013, a new trench from the distribution pond to the main reservoir was constructed.  This trench was designed to provide protection for the distribution pond by providing a spillway during heavy rain events.  Rather than overflow the distribution pond, the contaminated farm runoff now travels down the spillway and into the main reservoir.  This will provide treatment of millions of liters of polluted storm water by settling and oxygenation as opposed to raw, untreated farm effluent.

Diverter channel in action – Victoria International Airport from ACI-NA on Vimeo.

Although this system does require some maintenance, I personally believe it helps balance the importance of local agriculture and food production, while being very mindful on mitigating the impacts of pollution created through food production.  I am so very proud that our airport goes so far and above what is required to assist our community in this way.

TenTen Creek: Before (click on image for larger view)

TenTen Creek: After (click on image for larger view)

Earth Week 2014: Earth Day is Every Day for Our #GreenAirports

by Kevin M. Burke
President and CEO
ACI-NA

While airports are committed to advancing sustainability and the environment year-round, we carve out some special times to mark accomplishments and celebrate environmental excellence. This week is one of those times.

The ACI-NA Environmental Affairs Committee just finished its Spring Conference jointly with ACI-NA’s Business Information Technology and Public Safety & Security committees in Baltimore ― a triple play that speaks to the sustainability-related synergies shared by all our airport business lines. The trio of conferences focused on such sustainability topics as airport business continuity planning, developing wireless networks for the future, and efficient wildlife management technologies.

The Environmental Spring Conference highlighted the vision of a “sustainable airport system” being advanced by the Environmental Affairs Committee and its incoming chair Phil Ralston, general manager of aviation environmental and safety at Portland International Airport. This vision explores the issues, conditions and factors that go beyond environmental matters and outlines the responsibility ACI-NA has for creating a sustainable airport system.

Today’s green airport supports a wide variety of triple-bottom line initiatives, from advanced stormwater detention systems and use of alternative energy systems to power airport operations and reduce emissions, to development of wildlife management areas and community arts programs on airport property.  A sampling of these sustainability advances is being featured in guest blog posts this week from airports in both the U.S. and Canada, and I hope you check back in to discover an exciting array of Earth-friendly initiatives.

Also, there’s still time to enter submissions for the 2014 ACI-NA Environmental Achievement Awards. The Committee is expanding the awards program to recognize an individual for the Outstanding Individual Contribution and Leadership award in addition to the Achievement Awards for airport projects. The deadline is next Thursday, May 1.

Green initiatives like these are under way every day at airports across North America, illustrating that Airports for the Future understand, and practice, the key drivers of the triple bottom line – economic, environment and community sustainability.

Earth Week 2014: Halifax Gets Creative and Collaborative with Solid Waste Management Practices

by Michael Rantala
Manager, Safety and Environment
Halifax International Airport Authority

With more than 3.6 million passengers and hundreds of thousands more visitors to our Air Terminal Building annually, the Halifax Stanfield International Airport generates tons of waste.  How do we manage it? Internal leadership!

Airports face a unique challenge in that many of our visitors are not from the local municipality, creating additional challenges in maximizing waste diversion.  Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) has made considerable efforts to communicate with and educate people, ranging from the individual passengers who pass through our terminals to the diverse airlines from around the world that collect waste onboard.

We’re one of the few airports in the world that offers an airside recycling program for domestic flights.  We overcame difficult regional and language barriers during the implementation process to gain airline participation and work with them to separate their waste to local municipality standards.

A successful waste diversion program also should be continuously seeking improvement, and thus regular audits of the different waste collection areas are performed.  HIAA has been highly successful, achieving a 48 percent diversion rate in 2013.

We got creative in our approach to waste diversion.  In our administrative offices, no individual garbage bins are found at the employees’ work stations, rather each desk is supplied with small recycling and organics bins and there is one, central location for source-separating the waste.  This approach encourages employees to maximize the materials diverted to recycling and organics and minimize the amounts disposed of as garbage.

We recognized that appearance plays a major role in achieving diversion success, so HIAA is replacing the current receptacles throughout the terminal building.  The new receptacles are aesthetically pleasing, offer user-friendly photos for proper separation, and include newspaper and magazine trays to encourage re-use.

HIAA has a strong social and environmental conscience.  Commit your organization to finding sustainable ways of business.  Be creative in your programs and ensure there is continual communication and awareness in order to achieve the buy-in of everyone, and success will follow.

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