Report from ACI-NA Annual Conference and Pre-conference Workshops 10.06.2010 | Mary Ellen Eagan |
I’m still collecting my thoughts from nearly a week in Pittsburgh at ACI-NA’s 19th Annual Conference and Exhibit. Here are the highlights:
I attended the GRI Workshop on Friday, September 24th (that would be the workshop that preceded the pre-conference seminar). For those of you unfamiliar with the Global Reporting Initiative, it is an international framework for reporting on sustainability initiatives. Four North American airports (Denver International, Portland International, San Diego International, and Toronto Pearson International) have participated over the last two years in the development of a Draft Airport Operator Sector Supplement (AOSS). As the name implies, the AOSS is meant to provide additional airport-specific sustainability information that is not already provided through the G3 Sustainability Guidelines, which is the cornerstone of the GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework. One obvious example is aircraft noise. Here is a description of the proposed new performance indicator for airports to report on noise exposure:
- 2.1 Identify the index most widely used in your country or at your airport to calculate the number and percentage change of people residing in areas affected by noise. Where no indicator exists, report using the Day Night Level (DNL), showing the number of people exposed to (55 and) 65 DNL. Where the metric covers a 24 hour period, information on noise during the night-time period can be expressed using a default Leq metric for an 8 hour period. The reporter must define the 8 hour period although flexibility is provided to set the start time to reflect cultural differences (for example, some reporters may regard night as being 22.00 to 06.00, while others may think 23.00 to 07.00 is more appropriate to local circumstances).
- 2.2 Specify the metric and the time period adopted and the thresholds applied for calculating exposure. To aid comparability between airports, the reporting threshold chosen should reflect the onset of significant annoyance.
- 2.3 Report the number and percentage change of people residing in areas affected by noise. If metrics exist to calculate the number and percentage change of people residing in areas affected by noise for both day and night periods, please report information for both.
I’m still trying to interpret this recommendation, but my guess is that U.S. airports will be fine to simply report on the number of people exposed to DNL 65 dB and higher. What’s not clear is whether airports should also report on the number of people exposed to DNL 55 dB and higher (not a common practice for most US airports). This is an even more complicated question when you consider the statement that “the reporting threshold chosen should reflect the onset of significant annoyance” in the context of current ISO and other efforts to update the Schultz Curve.
Environmental Affairs Seminar
The Environmental Affairs Seminar was a two-day whirlwind of updates on a range of environmental issues facing airports:
- Raquel Girvin gave an update on noise research issues, which focused mostly on the status of the FAA’s Noise Research Roadmap.
- Annie Russo, ACI-NA’s Director of Government and Political Affairs, provided a legislative update. Bottom line: no change since last conference.
- Melanie Levac, Director, Security and the Environment for the Canadian Airports Council and Randy McGill, General Manager, Environmental Stewardship, Greater Toronto Airports Authority provided an update on environmental issues in Canada
- Kevin Gurchak (PIT) and Sarah Brammell (ESA Airports) hosted a stimulating round of “Airport Wildlife Hazard Assessment Jeopardy” complete with Pittsburh-themed prizes, and Mike O’Donnell, Director of FAA’s Office of Airport Safety & Standards, was also available to answer questions on wildlife hazard assessment. My favorite part of this discussion was that I learned a new word: snarge.
- Matt Griffin and Jessica Steinhilber of ACI-NA presented results of the ACI-NA 2010 Environmental Benchmarking Survey and progress on ACI-NA Environmental Goals. The results do indeed show progress in many areas.
- Emmanuelle Humblet of VHB provided an update on the FAA’s Airport Sustainability Master Planning Pilot Program and a case study of the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport Sustainable Master Plan.
- Stephanie Ward of Mead & Hunt presented results of the Airport Cooperative Research Program Report on Enhancing Airport Land Use Compatibility (Nick Miller wrote the noise portions of that study).
- Pamela Vanderbilt (CH2M HILL) and John Putnam (Kaplan, Kirsch, and Rockwell) updated folks on a number of air quality issues including revisions to General Conformity Requirements and Ozone Standards. Cynthia Parker (Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport) and Rob Freeman (Los Angeles World Airports) also updated attendees on implications of proposed regulations for lead emissions from leaded avgas on their airports.
- The first joint session with the Operations & Technical Affairs Committee presented an overview of LEED and other sustainability projects at airports, including Oakland International Airport’s LEED Silver Certified Terminal, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority’s Sustainable Master Plan and Alternative Energy Projects, and an overview of the GRI Workshop (discussed above).
- The second joint session with Ops Tech was an update of the NEPA and Project Planning Integration Task Force, which included remarks from Rick Busch, Director of Planning, Denver International Airport; David Full, Vice President – Aviation, Reynolds, Smith, and Hills (and author of the ACRP Synthesis on Integrating Planning and NEPA); Ed Melisky, Environmental Specialist, FAA Office of Airports; Mary Vigilante, President, Synergy Consultants; and Bill Willkie, Vice President, CH2M HILL.
- The final joint session was entitled, “NowGen, NextGen, or NeverGen” and included discussion of early NextGen NEPA environmental planning (Tom Cuddy, FAA Office of Aviation Policy, Planning, and Environment), the need for airports to engage with FAA in planning for NextGen and implications at local airports (Bill Dunlay, LeighFisher), and discussions with FAA about the metroplex prioritization scheme (Chris Oswald, ACI-NA).
Presentations from the seminar will be posted on the ACI-NA website shortly.
Then the conference began.
The annual conference is generally pretty light on substance (a good thing, after three days of intense meetings), but I did enjoy two sessions in particular:
Nick Bilton, Source: ACI-NA
- Nick Bilton, lead technology writer for the New York Times Bits Blog gave an engaging keynote address on the use of technology and communication, with a particular emphasis on social networking. I learned about foursquare, and though I don’t have enough of a social life to take advantage, I can see that it offers potential for airports. He also showed an amazing video on instantaneous information flow, as illustrated by the death of Michael Jackson.
- Deb Meehan of SH&E also gave an entertaining update on state of the airline industry. She emphasized her belief that airline profits in the last 18 months have come at the expense of the traveling public – especially in terms of comfort – and that we should look for airlines to start competing on service.
Looking forward to next year in San Diego!