Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’

Remaining Optimistic Despite President Trump’s Paris Agreement Decision

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

by Katherine B. Preston

As I sit here digesting the news that the Trump Administration has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which in my opinion is a decision that will have negative consequences for the country beyond just environmental impacts, it strikes me that what the U.S. does at a federal level isn’t a deal-breaker on climate.  Despite this unfortunate turn of events, I have reason to be optimistic.

How can this be?  Well, first of all, the feds weren’t really doing all that much to begin with on climate change.  While the Obama Administration accomplished some important initiatives designed to address climate change, such as corporate average fuel economy standards, the clean power plan, energy efficiency standards for federal buildings – I believe the real action is happening in the private sector and at the state and local level.  Motivated states and cities have been doing what the federal government hasn’t been able to do like set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, renewable energy generation goals, and putting resiliency plans into place.  Just ask California, Massachusetts, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, and so many more – too numerous to list here.

According to data from the 2010 census, over 80% of Americans live in urban areas – which means that our collective contribution to climate change and exposure to climate risks is overwhelmingly focused on American cities.  This is GOOD news, because it is cities across the country that are taking some of the most aggressive actions on climate change.   In fact, there are almost 600 U.S. members of the organization ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability taking action on climate change and becoming more resilient communities.  The United States Conference of Mayors strongly denounced the President’s decision and pledged to continue to work towards the goals in the Paris Agreement.  Climate deniers at the federal level can’t stop all that progress at the local and state level.

Sure the corporate average fuel economy standards and the Clean Power Plan rule were important.  But there are seismic shifts happening in sectors of our economy and economic forces in play regardless of what is happening (or not happening) in Washington, D.C.  Renewable energy development is on the rise as costs continue to decrease, and states continue to enforce renewable portfolio standards.  Solar power generation has risen at an exponential rate in the past 10 years, and as costs continue to decrease, this trend will continue.   Hybrid and electric vehicles continue to become more cost competitive and EV ranges are increasing.   Disruptive technologies hold enormous potential to address our collective GHG emissions too.  Autonomous vehicles could potentially realize a significant decrease in fuel consumption because of efficiency gains (humans aren’t really great drivers after all).

And let’s not forget the recent trend of activist boards forcing companies to fully account for the risks posed by climate change (see Exxon, for example).  This is a particularly exciting development, and I look forward to watching as investors and consumers vote more with their wallets to encourage continued progress.

Many industries are taking it upon themselves to act, whether it’s to better manage risk (regulatory, public relations, financial or otherwise), or because they view it as the “right thing to do”.  My own industry is a good example.  Airports across the world are voluntarily participating in carbon emissions reductions programs.  Some are required by local laws, others because of community expectations, some to compete with peer airports, and others because their leadership understands that managing the airports’ contribution to climate change carries more benefits than costs.  The Airport Carbon Accreditation program (just one of several frameworks in use for managing CO2 emissions) has grown to 189 participating airports and resulted in 206,000 tons of CO2 reductions last year alone.  A drop in the bucket compared to global GHG emissions, but it’s a start and it’s growing.

All of this isn’t to imply that there aren’t actions that the White House and Congress could take to push our economy even further in the right direction on renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Of course there are – and it’s too bad that we’re not.  We could reinstate the investment tax credit which helped the solar industry grow exponentially over the past 10 plus years by helping to bring costs down.  We could implement a cap and trade system – or even better a carbon tax and invest the profits in R&D to develop better renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies we could sell to the rest of the world.  We could ensure parity between renewables, biofuels and fossil fuels by giving equal subsidies and tax breaks to producers of these fuels instead of favoring oil and gas.  We could make sure farmers have access to crop insurance for biofuel crops to lower the barrier to entry.  We could implement renewable energy portfolio requirements. These are obviously just a few examples of many different actions that we could take at the federal level that would make a difference.  But as we’ve seen, progress in the private sector, at the state and local levels and internationally will not stop, regardless of the decisions made in Washington.

That is perhaps one final reason for optimism about the decision of this Administration.  There is a gaping opening for other countries to take more of a leadership role.  China and the EU have jointly stepped up to the plate, and India has indicated it will stay in.   Hopefully our hiatus on the global stage is a short one, but in the meantime others will continue to their efforts.  American cities, states, businesses, organizations and individuals will join the rest of the world in addressing climate change.  Though I am disappointed in the decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, there are many reasons to remain hopeful that our collective fight against the greatest challenge of our generation will continue.

My first month at HMMH

Monday, March 20th, 2017

by Katherine B. Preston

Now that I have been a member of the HMMH team for about a month and have everything figured out (if only), I decided it was time to write my first blog post.  First, let me say that I am very excited to be a part of this wonderful firm!  Having worked closely with Mary Ellen and Gene for years while at ACI-NA, I was not surprised to learn that the rest of my new colleagues at HMMH are equally as intelligent, passionate, welcoming and well-respected in their fields.  Most importantly they are a patient bunch, having gracefully fielded my many questions about time sheets, expense reports, project numbers, and where to find things located on the network.  Thankfully, I think I am starting to get the hang of it.

The past month has been quite the whirlwind, and included visits to the home office in Burlington and several airport clients, the Florida Airport Council’s State Summit, my first industry conference as a non-association staff, and a visit up to my old D.C. stomping grounds to attend FAA’s Environment and Energy REDAC meeting!  One of the most interesting experiences was attending the ACC/AAAE Airport Planning, Design & Construction Symposium in New Orleans, LA last month.  The conference brought together consultants and airport staff from a wide variety of disciplines, and I learned a lot about airport planning, how to write a great proposal, and the client interview pitfalls to avoid.  It was also great to catch up with old friends and colleagues and meet new ones.  I was proud to hand out my new HMMH business cards, and fortunately I brought plenty, because there were over 1000 people at the event!  I will also admit, it was really also nice to simply be an attendee at the conference so I could sit and listen to the panelists, rather than being responsible for planning the sessions.

Now that the dust of my first few weeks is (partially) settled, I am really looking forward to working with HMMH’s current clients, and helping to grow our practice.  For the past several years, I’ve been particularly interested in the exciting sustainability initiatives taking place across our industry, and only see this trend continuing.  Despite the current political climate and the rhetoric from Washington D.C. about rolling back ‘burdensome’ environmental regulations, I see an opportunity for us as an industry to demonstrate just how beneficial sustainability can be in terms of creating operational efficiencies, conserving resources, streamlining processes, positively engaging stakeholders, and of course saving money.  While some benefits are more easily quantifiable than others, I have never heard an airport say they regret incorporating sustainability into their organization.    I look forward to working with airports to help them maximize these benefits, whether by developing a comprehensive sustainability program or undertaking individual initiatives like a renewable energy project or greenhouse gas inventory.

The next few months will continue to be a learning experience for me personally as I transition from the association world to aviation consulting, and for the industry as a whole as we navigate a changing political and regulatory landscape. But I am fortunate to be learning from and working with the best here at HMMH!

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

Tuesday, 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.

 

 

Cochin International Airport Goes Solar

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

By Phil DeVita

CochinAirport_Solar

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!

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

acrp_rpt_141_report-coverx280

 

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.