Insights: Enhancing Energy Resilience and Reliability: How PEER Can Help Your Airport

With aging infrastructure posing inevitable limitations for the path toward energy modernization, the need to plan for potential power system disruptions is a critical priority. To help campuses, transit systems, and more plan for energy resilience, a new sustainability rating system and framework has emerged: The Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal (PEER) framework. While PEER is designed to address all types of infrastructure, airports in particular may be uniquely positioned to take advantage of PEER in planning for energy resilience.

What is PEER?

The PEER certification framework was developed by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) in 2015 and is the first such rating system in the world to focus entirely on electrical and energy resilience. While similar to LEED in structure, PEER focuses on electrical power systems rather than building performance and sustainability by examining power systems across six categories:

  • Reliability and Resilience (RR)
  • Energy Efficiency and Environment (EE)
  • Operations, Management, and Safety (OP)
  • Grid Services (GS)
  • Regional Priority (RP)
  • Innovation (IN)

Projects go through a verification and third-party review process and are awarded points that correspond to a level of PEER certification:

  • PEER Certified: 40-49 points
  • PEER Silver: 50-59 points
  • PEER Gold: 60-79 points
  • PEER Platinum: 80+ points

Given the rating system’s focus on energy efficiency, PEER certified projects are held to a rigorous standard and are required to report performance data to GBCI annually. Recertification is required at least once every three years for projects to maintain a current PEER certification. By submitting data annually, it’s clear that projects are operating reliably and maximizing energy efficiency.

Setting Precedence with PEER
PEER Airport with plane on taxiway

PEER recognizes industry leaders for improving efficiency and day-to-day reliability, while helping projects find cost-savings, build resilience, and avoid failures. Since its inception 8 years ago, there have been less than 20 PEER certified projects. However, the framework is a useful tool for enabling power system owners and operators to reduce climate risk with resilient design, improve energy system performance and above all, demonstrate value to community stakeholders.

Examples of certified projects include hospitals, rural cooperatives, city-owned utilities, microgrids and universities – speaking to the fact that PEER can be used for power systems of all types and sizes. To date, no U.S. airport has been PEER-certified. With that said, utilizing the PEER standard could enable airports to pursue opportunities to increase the energy efficiency of their infrastructure and make significant strides towards energy independence, reliability and resilience.

Tackling Energy and Emissions at Your Airport

With limited funding through the Inflation Reduction Act and the FAA’s Airports Climate Challenge, VALE, and ZEV grant opportunities, the race to decarbonize the aviation industry is in full swing. While there are many best practices to help airport operators achieve their emission goals, key items include the switch to low or zero emission vehicles, embracing renewable energy production, and conducting energy efficiency assessments. Beyond a rating system, PEER could be utilized as a guiding framework to help airports address power system performance for reliability, resilience and energy efficiency, and ultimately assist in pursuing the FAA’s goals of net-zero emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) economy-wide by 2050.

How C&S Can Help

As the preeminent authority in aviation sustainability and resilience, C&S is well-equipped to support clients in pursuit of PEER certification. Our work encompasses three primary areas: sustainability planning, design & construction, and decarbonization.

Larissa Holland, ENV SP
Sustainability Consultant

The C&S team can help clients decide what review path is best for your project, facilitate the certification application submission, coordinate with GBCI, and work with airports and their design partners to ensure the integration of sustainability and energy resilience measures across projects. With PEER providing yet another opportunity for continued leadership in climate resilience and success, C&S is your airport’s trusted partner in the pursuit of PEER certification.

Interested in learning more about sustainability opportunities for your airport? Contact Larissa Holland, ENV SP.

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