Carbon Removal and Reduction to Support Airport Net-Zero Goals

In alignment with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5°C target, the members of the Airports Council International (ACI) have committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 (see ACI Long Term Carbon Goal Study for Airports Report, 2021, as referenced in Special Note C). The term net zero, as applied by ACI, means that any airport-controlled carbon emissions are balanced by an equivalent amount being removed without the use of offsets. While carbon offsets prevent greenhouse gas emissions from occurring, carbon removals directly remove and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. ACRP Research Report 220: Guidebook for Developing a Zero- or Low- Emissions Roadmap at Airports provides the information and resources needed for airports to create a zero- or low-emissions roadmap and addresses making the business case for working with stakeholders to set zero- or low-emissions goals and targets. In addition, ACRP Synthesis 100: Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts assesses the state of the practice and lessons learned in approaches to greenhouse gas reduction. These efforts may also offer opportunities for revenue generation, as initially explored in ACRP Report 57: The Carbon Market: A Primer for Airports, which was published in 2011. While the above reports have identified numerous carbon reduction strategies, carbon removal approaches and net-zero emission targets have not been widely studied nor adopted at airports. The objective of this research is to develop a playbook to help airports understand and define how they can reach the net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2050 or earlier. This research will provide foundational knowledge for airports to better understand carbon removal strategies (technology and nature-based) and their potential feasibility in an airport setting. The playbook will assist airports in selecting and customizing net-zero carbon strategies, based on their type, size, and geographic region. It will include a framework for decision-making and implementation, and will help airports evaluate the trade-offs and synergies among various carbon reduction and emerging removal strategies. Specifically, the playbook will include, but not be limited to, the following elements and considerations: (1) Identification of funding opportunities for carbon removal strategies; (2) Identification and estimation of new revenue opportunities referenced in ACRP Report 57; (3) A summary of current and future utility energy supply mixes in different regions including the regulatory context for airports to procure their own clean energy from the gas and/or electricity grid; (4) Combination or sequencing of strategies and technologies for the near-term and long-term approaches; (5) Applicable strategies for retrofit versus new-build facilities (e.g., terminals, support buildings); (6) Recommendations for how recent carbon-related commitments by airlines and other key stakeholders could be leveraged by airports; (7) A library of tools (e.g., templates, flowcharts, calculators) to help airports evaluate and select strategies that meet their unique needs; (8) References to and incorporation of relevant existing databases and case studies; (9) A focus on the airport’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions and potential connectivity to Scope 3 (e.g., electrification of ground support equipment), (See Special Note B);     (10) A risk reduction plan to remain on target when encountering setbacks, (e.g., pandemic, natural disasters, terrorism, grid-disruptions); and (11) A description of how on-site utilities or carbon removal technologies could support levels beyond net-zero targets/goals.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $600000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 02-100

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Project Managers:

    Greenberger, Marci

  • Performing Organizations:

    Mead & Hunt, Incorporated

    Lansing, MI  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Andrus, Kate

  • Start Date: 20220316
  • Expected Completion Date: 20231115
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01779211
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 02-100
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Aug 18 2021 9:34AM