Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport Sustainable Master Plan

C&S was the airport’s consultant for the development of the country’s first FAA-funded sustainable master plan. While a traditional master plan requires consideration of environmental impacts of proposed projects, a sustainable master plan takes environmental considerations beyond just impact analysis, making sustainability a core objective in all aspects of the final master plan. For this project, sustainable principles and practices were applied to everything from airport operations to maintenance practices to selection of materials for capital improvements. Ithaca’s sustainable master plan achieves all of the FAA-required elements of a master plan, but with an improved and greater focus on making the airport a healthier place for people and the planet.

To incorporate sustainability into the traditional master plan process, the team established sustainability goals and set targets at an initial kickoff meeting with stakeholders. Areas addressed include air quality and climate change, energy conservation and renewable energy, solid waste and recycling, hazardous materials, land and natural resources management, noise, surface transportation, water, buildings and facility management and operations, socioeconomic benefits and community outreach/involvement, and land use. Sustainability baseline assessments were performed to determine how the airport was performing in each area. From that assessment, goals were set and procedures developed to help the airport achieve those goals. Sustainability considerations were evaluated as part of each development alternative shown in the master plan.

C&S also reached out to Cornell University and Ithaca College, offering a unique opportunity for students to be involved. Four classes comprising nearly 75 students signed on to make sustainability at the airport their semester-long project. This project served as the inspiration for the FAA’s sustainability planning pilot program, which was initiated in 2010 and has helped change the nature of airport planning nationwide.

The most important part of the sustainable master plan is in implementation. C&S developed a project decision tree that helps the airport find ways to ensure that every capital project contributes to a minimum of two sustainability goals. To date, several projects have been impacted by the guidelines in the master plan.

Terminal building expansion—Accommodating TSA, screening equipment, airline offices, concessions, baggage, and passenger holding areas is difficult within the existing building layout. However, the most sustainable project is the one that is never built, so the project team used the decision tree to solve the terminal space constraints within the existing footprint. These changes will eliminate the need for adding square footage in the short-term. However, once it becomes necessary, a long-term building expansion will be designed achieving a minimum certification level of LEED Silver.

Sand storage facility—Even though this project was already significantly designed before master plan was even completed, C&S was able to come up with ways to take a traditional design for a sand storage facility and modify it to satisfy sustainability goals.

Apron rehabilitation—A new apron rehabilitation project includes infrastructure to accommodate future electric ground power for aircraft. Engineers also specified more energy-efficient lighting fixtures. Crushed stone will be used in lieu of crushed ledge rock because of its functionality and significantly shorter hauling distance.

This project received a 2012 Platinum Engineering Excellence Award from ACEC-New York. It also received the 2011 Airports Going Green award, given at the 4th annual Airports Going Green Conference in 2011. Two local awards received are the 2011 Signs of Sustainability award and the 2012 Get your GreenBack Seal of Excellence.