Pre-Publication Release of ACRP Report 151 – Developing a Business Case for Renewable Energy at Airports

December 1st, 2015

acrp151_report-cover_280HMMH is pleased to announce the pre-publication release of ACRP Report 151 – Developing a Business Case for Renewable Energy at Airports by the Transportation Research Board (TRB). The report, authored by Stephen Barrett, Director of Climate and Energy, and Philip DeVita, Director of Air Quality, focuses on identifying and communicating the inherent benefits of renewable energy as part of the business case analysis. To reinforce its practical application, the Guidebook presents direct experience in renewable energy business case development to show both how those attributes are valued differently by different organizations with different missions, and how this broader renewable energy business experience translates to the airport business. The guidebook reviews the criteria used to evaluate a renewable energy project and presents a system for weighting evaluation factors, including long-term self-sustainability and environmental/social considerations, based on the airport’s particular objectives. It walks through a model business case and evaluates the key factors fundamental in the renewable energy business case. The Guidebook also provides examples of similar renewable energy business cases from both an airport’s perspective as well as other organizations, including an airline, a university, and a hospital, and the lessons learned for airports.

This report was the first ever released by the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) in a “pre-publication” format as part of its interest in accelerating the presentation of its research products to the industry, and demonstrates the high-level of confidence in the draft product. The pre-publication version was released in November 2015 and a final edited Guidebook is expected in the second quarter of 2016.

 

 

HMMH Fall Tour 2015: On the Road Again

November 13th, 2015

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I’ve been on the road this fall at conferences – a whole lot of air miles, too many hotels, chicken lunches, and name tags (someday these will be designed for wearing on something other than a suit jacket lapel), but lots of great discussions, more than a few cocktails with good friends, and many laughs along the way. Some common themes emerged; here’s a recap of my highlights/takeaways:

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Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) Global Sustainability Aviation Summit (Geneva)

At ATAG, ACI and Canso jointly released a document entitled Managing the Impacts of Aviation Noise, which provides a concise summary of airport noise issues, strategies for mitigation, and an extensive series of case studies. On community engagement, the report recommends following guidance issued in Eurocontrol’s Collaborative Environmental Management (CEM). One key difference between the European approach and ours is that the airport is at the center of the discussion. I am pleased to have contributed to the document.

 

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ACI World Environment Standing Committee (Geneva)

Australia has seen good success in improving relations by having a very engaged and completely independent Aircraft Noise Ombudsman, who serves as a neutral party facilitating discussion of noise abatement alternatives, and educating the public using language that is not jargon. The Australians also provide guidance to airports (and others) on how to properly address complaints. And Canada recently released an Airspace Change Communications and Consultation Protocol for engaging communities and other stakeholders in discussion of proposed airspace changes. It, too, puts airports at the center of the discussion.

 

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ACI-NA Annual Conference and Environmental Affairs Seminar (Long Beach)

My presentation at ACI focused on the concept of social license to operate (SLO), which originated in the mining industry. The premise of SLO is straightforward: owners of businesses and other enterprises that generate negative externalities must secure permission from stakeholders in order to grow – sometimes even to operate. And that permission is earned (not simply granted), by engaging stakeholders in a relationship that evolves from acceptance to trust. As shown in the illustration below from Social License institute, deteriorating levels of trust can lead to active political engagement and protest, as we’ve recently seen with the No Fly movement.

 

EFCG CEO Conference (New York)

This annual gathering of almost 300 CEO’s of firms in the A&E industry provides great perspective on the state of the industry, trends in financial results and other industry benchmarks, and an opportunity for firm leaders to share experiences on all kinds of issues facing our industry, including talent shortages, ownership transition models, and implications of new business models, technologies, and regulations. My favorite moment of the conference was my realization – during a fancy dinner at the Harvard Club – that the nine other CEO’s I was dining with were more interested in talking about their pets than their businesses. CEOs are people, too.

 

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AAAE Basics of Airport Law Conference (Washington)

John Putnam (KKR) and I provided a session on emerging noise issues. Much of that discussion focused on PBN issues, the challenges posed by NEPA requirements in evaluating PBN procedures (not only at individual airports, but on a metroplex scale), and implications of FAA Reauthorization on airport noise issues.

 

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ACC Annual Conference (Newport Beach)

There was much discussion at the Annual Meeting on the need to engage politically in conversations about airport development. ACC President TJ Schultz’s knowledge and insight into FAA funding and other political realities provides ACC member firms (especially small ones like HMMH) with context for making strategic decisions. I am honored to have been elected incoming Secretary/Treasurer for 2016, and look forward to serving on the ACC Executive Board with Don Bergin and Roddy Boggus.

 

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ACI-NA Marketing and Communications Conference (Nashville)

ACI-NA’s Marketing and Communications conference held a session on airport noise. This is very exciting to me because the longer I’m in this business, the more I’m convinced that a good deal of airport noise issues can be addressed by better communication. I’ve come to this for several reasons: (1) first, we know that only about 30% of people’s annoyance to aircraft noise can be attributed to the noise level – that leaves a lot of opportunity for using “non-acoustic” measures to address noise issues; (2) after 30+ years in this industry, I am positive that people don’t suddenly start complaining about aircraft noise unless there has been some change in their environment or their life: a new runway, a new procedure, a new home, a new job (and increasingly, retirement). Working with stakeholders to understand the reasons for those changes often goes a long way toward resolving annoyance – sometimes it can be addressed, but even when it can’t, folks generally are satisfied that they have been listened to and validated.

Bottom line: sometimes the best consulting one can offer is to listen.

 

Looking forward to a brief respite (though I’m presenting remotely to the Aircraft Noise Non-Acoustic Group (ANNA) in The UK on Thanksgiving – hopefully not messing up the turkey too badly in the process). Then back on the road again in December to wrap up the year at ACC/BAG Global Business Summit (London) and ACI/ACC Planning and NEPA Workshop (Washington).

 

 

FRA Releases NEC FUTURE Tier 1 DEIS

November 12th, 2015

by Dave Towers, P.E.

HMMH is proud to be a part of the team that prepared the NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that was released by the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) earlier this week.  NEC FUTURE is a comprehensive plan for improvements to the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail line from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts and the objective of the Tier 1 EIS is to evaluate the broad environmental impacts of several NEC alternatives. HMMH was responsible for evaluating the potential noise and vibration impacts of these alternatives to residential and other sensitive land uses along the existing NEC and potential new routes.  The noise and vibration analysis was conducted based on the methodology outlined in guidance documents for noise and vibration impact assessment prepared by HMMH for both the FRA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Estimates of noise and vibration levels accounted for passenger and freight rail operations as well as roadway and aircraft traffic in areas along the routes and the results provided estimates of residential populations and sensitive resources within impact zones for each of the alternatives.  After the Tier 1 process is completed, a Tier 2 EIS will be undertaken to evaluate impacts for a preferred alternative in site-specific detail.

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Sponsored Internship

October 7th, 2015

By Paul Barbaro

Coming into the “real world” from being a college student can be a daunting task. The persistent fear of never being able to find a job that pertains to one’s interests and passions is always looming overhead. However, with countless internship positions available in the workforce it is possible to pursue the career path you would find to be the most suitable. Through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s internship program I was able to connect my passion of the environment and clean energy technologies to a real time position at HMMH.

The process of getting involved with the MassCEC’s internship program was very easy. I appreciated the simplicity which included; submitting your resume and credentials, where you lived and were willing to work, and the particular clean energy interests you had. I released all this information to the MassCEC who then paired me with HMMH because of their firm’s location relative to my home and their work in environmental services.

My time spent as HMMH was very beneficial to my development into a young professional in the environmental and clean energy services field. It has been my first experience having a desk job that requires a lot more of me than a typical part time position. I worked as an intern under the Climate and Energy group at the firm. Some of my responsibilities included researching and attending conferences on various different forms of renewable and/or clean sources of energy. In fact, my main project for the summer was to compose a database of all the large-scaled solar installations (above 1 MW) in Massachusetts. I was also tasked with using my knowledge of G.I.S technologies to compose solar feasibility maps for several different airports in the nation looking to foster clean, solar energy. For a project involving several airports in Rhode Island wanting to incorporate solar power, I was able to take a helicopter ride and view the airports from above with my supervisor. Another task asked of me conducting field work for noise insulation studies at T.F Green airport in Rhode Island. Lastly, I worked with my supervisor to release a memo to Nashville International Airport to help guide them to select a cleaner source of fuel to run their airport shuttle bus fleet off of.

At HMMH, I was able to truly sink my teeth into the clean energy realm. They gave me the tools and opportunities to follow my interests and gain valuable work experience. I cannot thank them and the MassCEC enough for this opportunity. I met amazing people through my time as a MassCEC sponsored intern and feel so much more confident making strides into the clean energy and environmental workforce.

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Cochin International Airport Goes Solar

September 1st, 2015

By Phil DeVita

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Last week while scanning through the aviation links I received through email, I came across an article in the digital version of Time magazine for a 12 MW solar project at the Cochin International Airport in India.  What caught my attention was that HMMH worked on this project early on during the design stages.  Unbeknownst to me, Cochin will be the first solar airport in the world generating all of its electrical needs from the sun.  We have worked on many solar projects at airports; however, most of the projects are designed to offset a relatively small portion of the overall electrical needs at the airport. Airports are a large user of electricity, so for an airport to size a solar project to meet all of its demand is truly unique!

The project is comprised of over 46,000 solar panels on 45 acres of land.  Before requesting bids from interested parties to develop the site, Cochin International Airport approached HMMH to evaluate solar glare from the panels to ensure that the project was compatible with airspace associated with the airport, specifically the FAA interim guidance in lieu of similar airport solar PV guidance in India.  As part of the evaluation, we looked at multiple sites and preferred designs to ensure potential glare at the air traffic control tower and for pilots on approach to Runway 9/27 was consistent with the FAA interim guidance.

It’s great to see more and more airports are committing to solar for generating on-site power.  Solar when sited correctly at airports presents a great opportunity to generate renewable energy while reducing carbon emissions and meeting sustainability goals.  Cochin International Airport has set the bar for other airports and is a shining example that solar generation has a bright future in meeting the large energy demands required at an airport.  We are proud to say that not only have we worked on the largest airport solar project in the world at Indianapolis International Airport (17.5 MW), but have also worked on the first airport entirely powered by solar panels!