ACI-NA Announces 2012 Environmental Achievement Award Winners

WASHINGTON – Portland International Jetport, Northeast Florida Regional Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and JFK International Airport have been selected as winners of Airports Council International – North America’s (ACI-NA) 2012 Environmental Achievement Awards.

Each year ACI-NA awards up to four awards for the categories of Environmental Management, Mitigation, Outreach, Education and Community Involvement, and Innovative / Special Projects. The winners must demonstrate the environmental benefit of their project, innovative approach, effective implementation, applicability and cost effectiveness.

“In addition to driving economic development in their regions, airports take environmental protection and improvement very seriously, and constantly strive to be good neighbors,” said ACI-NA President Greg Principato. “ACI-NA’s annual Environmental Achievement Awards is a great way to celebrate airports’ achievements in environmental management, finding innovative solutions to environmental challenges, and communicating with their local communities, all while providing the vital service of moving people and goods safely and efficiently,” Principato concluded.

This year ACI-NA received more entrants than any prior year, “which really signifies airports’ continued commitment to being excellent environmental stewards,” said Anne Kohut, publisher of Airport Noise Report and a contest judge.  In addition to the four winning projects described below, judges were so impressed with the field of candidates that they awarded an honorable mention in each category, as well as an overall honorable mention.

“It was extremely difficult to judge this year’s competition due to the large number of strong entries,” said Carol Hallett, Of Counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Rhonda Solomon of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed, “We wish we could have recognized all of the submissions because they were so impressive.”   

Environmental Management Award Category:

Portland International Jetport took advantage of a terminal expansion project to install a significant geothermal system to provide the airport’s energy needs.  The system takes advantage of ground water to heat and cool the airport facilities instead of relying on conventional fossil fuels, which has resulted in a reduction of over 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions and over 1 ton of Nitrous Oxide emissions per year – the equivalent of taking over 180 cars off the road per year or a total of 7200 vehicles over the lifespan of the project.  This was also the first geothermal project to receive FAA Voluntary Airport Low Emission Program (VALE) grant funds to help complete the project, which helped the airport achieve a very manageable 4 to 5 year return on investment.

The Honorable Mention for Environmental Management was given to Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport for their Green Initiative.

Outreach, Education and Community Involvement Award Category:

Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s Apiary had the judges buzzing with excitement with the project’s success in addressing the three legs of sustainability – environment, economic and social.  The airport, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Family Support Services (DFSS) and the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) installed beehives (an apiary) on airport property, and provided job training as beekeepers and a source of income to formerly incarcerated individuals.  The apiary has grown from 28 to 50 beehives, with well over 1 million bees. In its first year of operation, the apiary produced over 1,200 pounds of honey and launched Sweet Beginnings, a small company which produces honey, soaps and other products from the apiary.  The company now employs six full-time workers and will sell their products at the airport.  This project is unique in that it is the largest apiary on an airport, is economically self-sustaining and socially responsible.

Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport received the Outreach category Honorable Mention for their Earth Day Event.

Mitigation Award Category:

The Mitigation Award went to Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine for their Runway Safety Area Stabilization and Salt Water Marsh/Spoil Island Mitigation project.  When it came time for this small St. Augustine airport to shore up their Runway Safety Area from the effects of erosion, they planned an innovative way to mitigate a former salt water marsh at the same time.  The airport and its partners returned an off-shore scrub island back to its natural saltwater marsh habitat and reused over 95 percent of all materials (vegetation, soil) in the RSA stabilization project.  They also used native flora and fauna to create a “living shoreline” including a live oyster bed on the edge of the stabilized RSA.  The project was completed on time and under-budget, and is a great example of how airports can improve the environment and their facilities to better serve their communities at the same time.

The Honorable Mention in this category went to Vancouver International Airport for their Ground Run-Up and Glycol Mitigation Project.

Special/Innovative Projects Award Category:

John F. Kennedy International Airport won the Special/Innovative Projects Award with their Surface Congestion Management (SCM) initiative.  Although surface congestion management is not a new idea, the comprehensive scope of collaboration between the airport and all the other stakeholders caught the attention of the judging panel. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey used the SCM technology within a Collaborative Decision Making framework to achieve impressive reductions in delays and fuels savings at one of the busiest airports in the world.  The initiative has saved an estimated 5 million gallons of aviation fuel, 48,000 metric tons of CO2 and 14,800 hours of taxi-out time since its implementation in 2010.  The project has also resulted in fewer criteria air pollutant emissions and less noise from idling aircraft engines.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was the Honorable Mention in the Innovative/Special Projects category for their redevelopment of a former Ford factory brownfields site.

The Overall Honorable Mention went to San Francisco International Airport for their T2 LEED Gold Certification and their Solid Waste Recycling Program.

Since being established in 1997, the Environmental Achievement Awards contest has generated immense interest throughout the industry and has catalyzed numerous environmental programs at airports.

Award winners will be recognized at ACI-NA and ACI World’s Annual Conference in Calgary, Alberta on September 12th, during the Chairman’s Honors Luncheon.

Winners in each category are selected by a three-judge panel based on the project’s environmental benefits, innovation, effective implementation, widespread applicability and cost-effectiveness.  Judges for the 2012 Awards Program were Carol Hallett, Of Counsel to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Anne Kohut, publisher, Airport Noise Report and Aviation Emissions Report, and Rhonda Solomon, Environmental Specialist at the FAA.