Sustainable Airports: Boston Logan

Nov 13th, 2011 | By | Category: Sustainability

Boston’s Logan International Airport, New England’s largest transportation center, serves more than 20 million passengers per year and employs 12,000 people. Despite its size, Boston Logan is one of the nation’s most environmentally advanced transportation hubs.  In 2008, the airport won the Environmental Management Award presented by the Airports Council International–North America (ACI-NA), in large part as a result of its efforts to improve air emissions in and around the airport. As I was passing through security at the airport recently, I began wondering why a quasi-governmental agency would care about sustainability.

Sustainability Measures

Logan’s passenger terminal and general aviation facility were the world’s first to be certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The airport incorporates day-lighting, recycled materials, water conservation measures, and a reflective roof into its design. There are recycling bins throughout its facilities, including containers for bottles and cans at the entrances to all security checkpoints.  Logan was the first airport in the United States to use “warm-mix” additives in asphalt to repave runways, saving fuel and reducing emissions by 20 percent. Also, the airport operator’s website includes several eco-friendly transportation options: hybrid taxicabs, iPhone apps for shared cab rides, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for vehicle traffic, and public transportation service including subway lines and clean diesel and electric bus lines.

Sustainability Payback

All of these impressive credentials beg the question:  WHY?  Airport passengers are a captive audience; it’s not as if passengers flying into Boston have a choice not to arrive at Logan International. Where is the imperative for the airport to be sustainable, other than striving to implement measures required for regulatory compliance?

In a 2007 presentation to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), Matt Goldman from Weston Solutions, Inc. identified several factors that contribute to the business case for improved sustainability at airports:

  • The opportunity to create a customized local solution
  • Increased revenue through cost reduction
  • Liability avoidance through proactive risk management
  • Improved relationships with key stakeholders
  • Improved environmental performance
  • Enhanced access to capital
  • Improved employee productivity, recruitment and retention
  • Enhanced brand image and long-term viability of operations

The presentation demonstrated how these factors had been integrated by the Massachusetts Port Authority at Logan airport, and it also discussed stakeholder engagement and the growing expectation for transparency and reporting. These factors, which include improved environmental and social performance with a tangible business payback, help to explain why Boston’s Logan International Airport is striving to be a sustainability leader.

About the Author

Diane Bucka, founder of the Responsible Business Registry, is a sustainability advocate and communications consultant with more than 15 years of writing, editing, and small business marketing experience.

Photograph: Concourse Tunnel (Green) by Amber Yonkman, United States.


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3 Comments to “Sustainable Airports: Boston Logan”

  1. This is a good example of why sustainability policies and practices make sense! Thanks for the great article, Diane!

  2. Jonathan Crane says:

    It seems like our Federal Government should incentify other Airports to do the same thing through tax credits of some sort. It seemed as the the answers to the “WHY” in the article were nice, but soft. It seems as though more tangible ($) rewards would make others follow suit more readily.

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