It ain’t easy being green. But it’s the only way to stay in the game.

Posted in: Aviation, Environmental

Airports going greenFor sustainability specialists the Airports Going Green conference provides an opportunity to learn about the latest efficiency initiatives, strategies for climate change adaptation and trends in sustainability funding. Further, it allows for connections to be made between like-minded, sustainable aviators. Below are my AGG top three takeaways from this year’s conference:

  • Sustainability is a business imperative. Reducing our environmental impact and keeping our employees satisfied is just as important as economic growth. Approximately 85% of large companies have sustainability goals (cutting back to even the supply chain). We must look at efficiency improvements as a portfolio and redefine ROI. Business cannot thrive unless people and planet thrive.
  • Climate change is here and we needed to start planning for it yesterday. Did you know that the National Weather Service had to change its mapping colors so it could track the rains from Hurricane Harvey? According to Citibank, unchecked climate change could cost the world $72 trillion by mid-century. How are we currently addressing climate change? UPS trucks take only right turns. France will be ending oil and gas production by 2040. Volvo will go all electric and hybrid by 2019. Climate change adaptation closer to home? Austin Airport will require all its restaurants to compost by 2020. San Francisco International Airport is developing a Shoreline Protection Project to address potential flood risks. And, I’m thrilled to include Mead & Hunt in the resiliency conversation with our carbon offsets for all employee travel related to the company’s project management conference.
  • Now is the time to PIVOT. We no longer are working in a state of business as usual. Today’s challenges include climate change, resource scarcity and radical transparency – all of which can be perceived as threats to business. However, these challenges also offer unprecedented opportunities. We must take these risks and turn them into strategic growth opportunities. It’s this “pivot” that will allow us to find success in adapting to our new reality.

As Jos Nijhuis, President and CEO of Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam said, “Sustainability is not a nice-to-have, but a must-have.” In seeking out ways to incorporate sustainability in our projects and in our company’s core values, and we are paving a successful path to the future.


Jen Wolchansky, AICP, ENV SP, is a project manager focusing on NEPA, noise and sustainability. Jen has planning experience across the board having worked with transportation, urban planning and aviation. When not at work, Jen partakes in environmental appreciation by rock climbing, trail running or simply relaxing outside with a cold beer.

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