Green Airport Design Evaluation (GrADE) ? Methods and Tools Improving Infrastructure Planning

Paolina Ferrulli    


Aviation plays a significant role in modern socio-economies, providing connectivity and accessibility, and facilitating commerce. Airports are critical nodes in the air transport system and of the territory connectivity as well. Along with the growth of airport infrastructures, airport-related business, commercial, residential and spatial development takes place in the airport surroundings connected by surface transport infrastructure. Airports no longer simply comprise aviation related functionalities (e.g. passenger, cargo, and aircraft handling facilities), they have evolved to include shopping and hotel complexes, conference facilities, as well as industrial zones, logistic centres and inter-modal public transport hubs. Concepts such as ?aerotropolis?, ?airport city?, ?airport corridor?, ?airport region?, and so on, have emerged to denote even more the dramatic structural and operational evolution on the airport site and in the immediate surroundings. These developments have spatial implications on various levels and scales. Europe faces a particular challenge in respect of its airport infrastructure network because of limited capacity that prevents aviation responding to demand when it arises and the difficulty of securing planning approval for airport infrastructure development. This is due to the dense urbanisation of the continent, the complex system of rules and planning regulations that have arisen as a result and opposition from local residents and their politicians to airport growth. The ability to deliver further airport growth and development into infrastructure design integrated with the urban planning will therefore be a major sustainability challenge for the future. A strategic and integrated approach to define the airport infrastructure design complying with the specific sustainability requirements is needed. The aim of the paper is to illustrate the results of a doctoral research focused on the development of a framework for the sustainability performance-based evaluation of airport project design and technological strategies to enhance the environmental capacity of the infrastructure during its life cycle. Environmental and operational capacity can be maximised through a long-term planning ensuring an effective environmental management that compensates for growth through the introduction of eco-efficient infrastructure, technological, and operating strategies. The proposed research defines specific methods and tools enabling both design project control and sustainability appraisal. The methodological approach follows a systematic process analysis, linked to modelling studies and the development of sustainability indicators that inform a site wide approach to the design of airport infrastructure. The objectives is achieved through the definition, analysis and assessment of the solutions for environmental capacity and sustainable airport-network development through in-depth study of the impacts arising from airport operations and infrastructure. The project aims at developing a framework for governance to manage and enhance the investments for the infrastructure development by cross-evaluating all the aspects affecting the project design decision process. The Green Airport Design Evaluation (GrADE) method and its respective tools will contribute in achieving the goal of sustainable development of airport infrastructure providing a methodological framework to measure and monitor environmental performance and creating new opportunities for the aviation regulatory organisations and airport owners to define business model and strategies to enhance sustainable airport infrastructure design within the regional transport network.

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