Archive for the ‘Steve’s State’ Category

Transportation Research Board Releases HMMH-Authored ACRP Report 141 – Renewable Energy as an Airport Revenue Source

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

By Stephen Barrett, LEED AP



I am pleased to announce the release of TRB’s ACRP Report 141 – Renewable Energy as an Airport Revenue Source. I authored the report with my colleague Philip DeVita and we were supported by team members from Frasca and Associates, Foley & Lardner LLP, Plante Environmental, and SunPower Corp.  Report 141 provides the aviation industry with new information and guidance on the ownership structure and financial accounting behind an increasing number of airport renewable energy projects.  Airports are constantly looking for alternative revenue streams to increase their competitiveness and grow their businesses. They also are exploring ways to use technology to run more efficiently and achieve meaningful cost savings that can be passed on to anchor tenants in the form of more competitive rates and charges. Airports are rich in land and buildings connected to regional infrastructure that provide cost-effective investment opportunities that will benefit the airport business well into the future. Renewable energy has become mainstream as a result of technological advancement, market maturity, and public sector policy and investment with profound benefits to power markets. Renewable energy has diversified the sources of energy and decentralized the power generation network increasing competition, expanding infrastructure investments, and improving national energy security and reliability of the electrical grid. It has increased regional competition for emerging energy generation with states vying for the new business opportunities and markets. It has also demonstrated the viability of a future carbon free economy with the design of high performance buildings that use less energy and supply what is needed through renewable sources. ACRP Report 141 describes renewable energy technologies, airport and renewable energy financing considerations, steps for project implementation, and a summary of 21 airport renewable energy case studies representing various technologies and funding strategies.  It also includes a comprehensive list of all of the solar projects at airports in the U.S., a matrix of renewable energy funding opportunities, a solar feasibility case study, and a sample airport renewable energy RFP.  I will present the report’s findings at the Airports Going Green Conference on October 27 in Chicago.

HMMH Awarded Renewable Energy Consultant Contract at Salt Lake City Airport

Friday, July 10th, 2015

By Stephen Barrett, LEED AP


HMMH is working with the Salt Lake City Department of Airports to assess opportunities to deploy renewable energy projects in a cost-effective way as part of the design and planning of the airport’s $1.8 billion redevelopment program. Part of this program includes meeting Leadership on Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards and obtaining credits associated with renewable energy generation and use. One component being considered is covered parking with solar canopies and issues associated with snow and ice. We are also conducting a comprehensive technical and financial feasibility assessment of deploying solar on the property of Salt Lake City Airport. This work evaluates the physical constraints to siting solar on airport property including available land and buildings, proximity to existing electrical infrastructure, consistency with the ALP and airport safety zone, compliance with the FAA’s Interim Solar Policy and ocular hazard standard for glare, and potential environmental resources and effect on permitting. HMMH will also be investigating emission reduction technologies that can receive dedicated funding from the FAA to improve air quality in the Salt Lake Valley which is designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as a non-attainment zone for clean air standards. The HMMH team for this project includes Brendle Group, Blymyer Engineers, Foley & Lardner, and VHB.

Massachusetts Energy Priorities Expressed by Commissioner Judith Judson

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

by Stephen Barrett


I had the honor of recently moderating a panel of experts with the new Massachusetts Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources, Judith Judson.  Commissioner Judson was appointed on April 21st so her appearance at the Environmental Business Council of New England’s (EBC) breakfast marked the end of her first month on the job, which is enough time to be engaged in many hot issues facing the state, but too little time to be in a position to communicate specific policies still in development.  But she did kick off by stating her five energy priorities for the Commonwealth which is helpful for understanding the context of the discussion:

  1. Stabilizing ratepayer energy costs
  2. Retaining national leadership status in energy efficiency and clean energy
  3. Maintaining progress in clean energy procurement toward achieving greenhouse gas emission goals contained in the Global Warming Solutions Acts.
  4. Facilitating operations of safe and reliable energy infrastructure
  5. Working to modernize the grid

The Commissioner explored more deeply many topics of interest to EBC members.  She said she likes data and cited some interesting statistics including: 10% of all electricity consumed in Massachusetts in 2015 is from renewable energy; 350 of the 351 towns in Massachusetts have at least one solar installation on a home or business; $2m are available from the Commonwealth in rebates for buyers of electric vehicles; and a study out of Texas demonstrated that deploying 5,000 MW of energy storage on the grid is cost-effective.  The latter point may be of particular interest to Commissioner Judson as she has worked in the private sector over the past decade for companies involved in developing innovative technologies to help make the grid run more efficiently, including Massachusetts-based Beacon Power and its flywheel technology.

In response to a question from panelist Matt Shortsleeve of Solect Energy about obstacles to continued growth in the Massachusetts solar industry due to net metering caps and fulfillment of the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) II Program, the Commissioner acknowledged the problem with pending uncertainty for private investors with the start/stop nature of these programs.  However, she said that the Baker Administration is interested in putting in place mechanisms to facilitate sustained and long-term growth with market predictability which considers the changing role of the utility companies as more power is generated locally.  The administration continues to review the Net Metering Task Force’s Report released in April to help formulate a path forward.  Other topics discussed among the panelists included maintaining Massachusetts’ position as #1 in the country in Energy Efficiency, working with the regional on gas supply to stabilize electricity prices, purchasing more renewables through long-term contracts to meet Green Communities Act goals, working to facilitate the development of regional electric vehicle infrastructure network, and prospects for offshore wind in New England with the problems faced by Cape Wind and the commencement of construction this month of the country’s first offshore wind project off of Block Island, Rhode Island.

With so much ground to cover, the Commissioner promised to make a return visit in the fall to provide an update.

Recap on EBC Program on Energy and Environmental Affairs

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

by Stephen Barrett, LEED AP


I recently had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion organized by the Environmental Business Council of New England (EBC) with Matthew Beaton, the new Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs under Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.  While the Baker Administration took the reins in early January and Secretary Beaton has been on-board since day one, this panel was one of his first public appearances as he has been busy building his team and getting them up to speed.  Some in the clean energy and environmental industries had been concerned that the Baker Administration would roll back clean energy policies and environmental protections, though Beaton emphasized that the Administration was entering office with an open mind and no actions would be considered during an initial three month freeze period on any new regulations or programs.  Renewable energy advocates were happy to hear the Secretary’s announcement at the PV America Conference the previous day that the Administration would continue the Patrick Administration’s commitment of 1600 MW of solar by 2020.  Beaton was asked by the panel about another Patrick Administration proposal – the Clean Energy Standard – which would incentivize the purchase of Canadian hydropower in Massachusetts in an effort to achieve the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act goal of 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.  With the proposed program out for public comment, Beaton only said that he would wait to review public comment, but that he would focus on cost-effective solutions.  The high cost of electricity in Massachusetts due to constrained supplies of natural gas elicited a lot of interest.  While everyone seems to agree that high energy costs are a burden on the economy and that increasing natural gas supply in some manner is the best short-term solution, how to deliver new supply (e.g., new or enhanced pipelines, more Liquid Natural Gas [LNG] deliveries by sea) and how much to deliver given the region’s current over-dependence on natural gas is of much debate.  Beaton did not offer a plan for avoiding price spikes next winter but said it would be a focus of his agenda in the coming months.  All in all, the evening was a welcomed introduction to the new Secretary and the start of a productive dialogue with the environmental and energy business community.

Observations from a Panel at the ACC/AAAE Design and Construction Conference in Denver

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

by Stephen Barrett

I had the pleasure of participating in a panel on how airports apply unique engineering techniques to take advantage of available resources. I started off the panel discussion by presenting information on ACRP 02-56, Developing the Airport Business Case for Renewable Energy where I described how the research will produce a ranking system which quantifies the economic, self-sustainability, and environmental benefits of renewable energy projects. These benefits include stabilizing long-term electricity costs, investing in a modernized electricity generation and distribution network to ensure reliability and resiliency, and advancing environmental initiatives to open up permitting for future development. Traci Holton, Manager of Design at the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, followed up with a discussion of a variety of examples from Nashville Airport (BNA) including solar planning (which I am helping them with – thanks for the kudos Traci), to asphalt and rock reuse, to converting mulch produced through vegetation management activities into improving site stabilization and minimizing runoff. Traci also described their Geothermal Project which will utilize the constant water temperature from a large on-site quarry for heating and cooling resulting in savings to the airport from avoided natural gas use and potable water previously purchased for boiler make-up and on-site irrigation. The project is currently out-to-bid with a design-build format and requiring a minimum payback period. The last speaker was Dale Stubbs, Associate Vice President for AECOM in Atlanta, who talked about Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson’s (ATL) Green Acres Recycling Facility that is presently under development. The unique facility will be built, owned and operated by a third party contractor on 39-acres of airport property where all the airport’s waste will be delivered, sorted and managed including the use of compost for growing food that will be sold back to concessionaires. Each of these projects shows how airports can be leaders in developing innovative approaches to areas such as energy consumption and waste management that can produce a financial benefit through the efficient use of available resources.