Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport Sustainable Master Plan

One airport that broke new ground in the field of aviation and sustainability is Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport. C&S was the airport’s consultant for the development of the country’s first master plan that fully incorporates sustainability into the planning process. While a traditional master plan requires consideration of environmental impacts of proposed projects, a “sustainable master plan” takes environmental considerations beyond impacts, making sustainability a core objective. 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 for a number of categories:

  • Air quality and climate change
  • Energy conservation and renewable energy
  • Materials use and waste reduction and recycling
  • Hazardous materials management and remediation
  • Land and natural resources management
  • Noise abatement
  • Surface transportation management
  • Water quality protection and water conservation
  • Buildings and facility management and operations
  • Socioeconomic benefits and community outreach/involvement
  • Land use

Sustainability baseline assessments were performed to determine how the airport is currently performing in each of the above areas. From that assessment, goals were set and procedures developed to help the airport achieve those goals. Additionally, sustainable features 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 in a real-world green project. Four classes comprising nearly 75 students signed on to make sustainability at the airport their semester-long project. An overall project goal for this master plan was to serve as a learning tool and template for the FAA and other airports to learn best practices and develop guidelines to apply sustainability principles to other projects. With Ithaca’s experience to build on, the learning curve for other facilities will be reduced. 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.

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, recognizing the value of this project and outstanding leadership in pursuit of sustainability within the aviation industry. Two local awards received are the 2011 Signs of Sustainability award and the 2012 Get your GreenBack Seal of Excellence.