GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 22, 2023 – “Invest in our Planet” is the theme for Earth Day 2023, with a focus on engaging all organizations and citizens to take care of the earth and its communities.
Airports around the world have a responsibility and opportunity to lead sustainability efforts that protect the planet and its ecosystem. As West Michigan’s gateway to the world, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport takes the responsibility of investing in our planet seriously.
The Ford International Airport recently welcomed Mead & Hunt as its selected lead consultant to support its continued sustainability efforts through developing a sustainability management plan. Mead & Hunt have identified 8 elements the Airport will continue to focus on while prioritizing sustainability.
Element #1: Stakeholder Engagement & Project Committee Establishment
To begin the sustainability management plan project, it is important to identify the Airport’s stakeholders and community partners who will provide input. This critical effort provides the basis for identifying sustainability goals and future initiatives by providing a clear understanding of existing measures and programs, developing an implementation approach, and obtaining stakeholder and community buy-in of the proposed sustainability program.
Element #2: Sustainability Mission and Vision Statement
To create a program that defines sustainability in terms that are relevant to the Airport and our community, the team will develop sustainability mission and vision statements which reflect the Airport’s core values and lay out the path for what we aim to achieve. These statements will act as a beacon to affect decision-making, operations, and strategy for plans and investments at the Airport.
Element #3: Baseline Inventory (Sustainability Study)
To determine where we want to go, we must first determine where we are starting from. A baseline inventory will document existing conditions for each sustainability category – waste, energy, water, greenhouse gases, social responsibility and access, and resiliency – and provide a benchmark against which progress can be measured.
Element #4: Goals and Metrics Identification
Next, the team will draft specific goals for short- and long-term desired achievement. These goals will include achievement of specific outcomes or changes to an activity and may be quantitative or qualitative. Most importantly, these goals will be tailored specifically for the Ford International Airport based upon our priorities, commitments, and resources and will include metrics for determining success for our community.
Element #5: Initiatives
The project team will develop a listing of candidate sustainability initiatives and programs to meet those goals. This list will then be screened to evaluate cost/benefit and total cost of ownership and determine their viability and appropriateness for implementation. After initial screening, the team will evaluate the options for effectiveness in meeting the Airport’s sustainability goals and rank them by key criteria.
Element #6: Implementation Plan
The next step will include defining an actionable strategy for implementing sustainability initiatives. This plan will provide a roadmap for the Airport to carry out initiatives that achieve the airport’s goals. An important aspect of the plan is the inclusion of opportunities for course corrections or changes if the actions aren’t meeting the desired results or if technology or other conditions change.
Element #7: Guidance and Tools
A sustainable sustainability plan must include a method for tracking progress to determine if goals are being met. To accomplish this, the team will develop tracking tools for Airport staff, allowing them to track movement of metrics relative to our initiatives (either successes or failures). These tools will be accessible and easy to use, to ensure they are embraced and utilized by all Airport staff.
Element #8: Funding Strategy
Any initiative or project undertaken at the Airport will have to compete with other projects for funding. As aviation sustainability continues to evolve, new funding opportunities become available to assist airports in meeting their sustainability goals. Therefore, the team will identify potential funding sources to support the Ford International Airport in implementing important sustainability programming and initiatives.
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