Thursday, October 13, 2022

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport achieves carbon neutrality for second year in a row

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) has been recognized as one of two airports in North America to achieve carbon neutrality for 2021 airport operations, with a level 3+ accreditation through Airports Council International’s (ACI) Airport Carbon Accreditation Program (ACA). This is the second year in a row for receiving this distinction, with the first distinction announced in 2021 for 2020 operations.  AUS joins six other North American airports for achieving a Level3+ or greater accreditation for 2021, a year notably marked by a dramatic increase in passenger travel following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sustaining a carbon neutral recognition two years in a row signifies a milestone for our city, especially through returning to pre-pandemic passenger volumes,” said Gina Fiandaca, Assistant City Manager over the SD23 Mobility Outcome. “The Department of Aviation has established an impressive sustainability portfolio and I am proud to see that our airport continues to play a critical role in supporting our citywide goals and efforts to combat climate change. I commend the Department’s commitment to being a leader in environmental stewardship and implementing sustainable practices, both large- and small-scale with the goal of reducing their operational carbon footprint.”
In 2021, AUS was the first medium-sized airport and fourth overall airport in North America to achieve the level of “Level 3+ Neutrality.” To renew the Level 3+ accreditation for 2021, AUS has made significant emission reductions and continued to offset residual emissions by investing in and implementing projects and innovations that reduce carbon dioxide. While these emissions stem from Department of Aviation activities and airport operations and “neutrality” does not include airline emissions, a vital part of the ACA program involves airports working with airlines and other stakeholders to collectively reduce emissions. 
The combined efforts of the airlines, Department of Aviation and other on-airport partners have led to a carbon neutral operation for AUS’s Department of Aviation, whose carbon footprint is calculated from the fuel burned in departmental vehicles and the natural gas used to heat buildings. Ongoing emission reduction projects and innovations that minimize Department of Aviation operation impacts on the environment  include:

  • A partnership with Austin Energy to generate 1.8 megawatts of renewable solar energy on the airport campus which provides power to the airport and 160 local homes through the Community Solar Program.
  • A partnership with Signature Flight Support to accept the first-ever delivery of Sustainable Aviation Fuel to AUS in 2021.
  • Using 100% renewable energy in the Barbara Jordan Terminal through Austin Energy’s GreenChoice Program.
  • Using renewable natural gas to power AUS’s shuttle bus fleet, expanding the use of alternative fuels, and piloting a renewable natural gas credit sharing program with Clean Energy to aid airport partners in reducing their emissions.
  • Receiving Gold LEED Green Building certifications on several buildings on the airport campus, including the 2019 nine-gate expansion and administration building.
  • Achieving an Austin Energy Green Building 3-star rating on one of the newest completed airport facilities, the Airport Career and Development Center.
  • Implementing Energy Efficiency Retrofits throughout campus in HVAC systems, Energy Efficient Boilers, and using LED lighting throughout the campus, parking garages, and airfield.
  • Purchasing renewable energy and carbon offsets from sustainable sources and promoting The Good Traveler program to AUS passengers.
  • Establishing the AUS Food Rescue Program, which donates unused perishable food from concessions to Keep Austin Fed, and a campus-wide composting and recycling program.
  • Partnering with airlines to support electric-powered airline ground service equipment.

“We couldn’t be more proud about this achievement and of our Environmental Affairs Division for making it possible,” said Somer Shindler, AUS Chief Development Officer. “As we embark on improving and developing the airport through our Journey with AUS airport improvement program, we will prioritize sustainable design and construction practices to continue our commitment to carbon neutrality.”
AUS has been participating in Airports Council International – Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) Program, an airport industry-specific, internationally recognized carbon accreditation program since 2017. The ACA Program empowers airports to make further strides in managing and reducing their carbon footprint to achieve alignment with global climate targets.

To learn more about AUS's sustainability efforts, visit the Department of Aviation's environmental affairs webpage