Sustainability planners at ATL draft plan for 100% renewable energy by 2035

Airport commits to net-zero carbon by 2050
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 5:18 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Major efforts are underway to reduce carbon footprint at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Jeff Denno and Polly Sattler are proud of the recently opened ATL West parking garage at the airport. With fully programmable LED lighting, parking space detection, and dozens of electric vehicle charging stations, ATL West is the second largest deck in the world to be verified Parksmart, a certification that measures and recognizes high performing, sustainable garages.

“Our approach has been to identify where we can reduce our energy footprint,” said Denno.

Denno and Sattler are senior sustainability planners behind the airport’s new sustainable management plan. It’s a roadmap aimed at achieving 100 percent clean and renewable energy at the world’s busiest airport by 2035, and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“I deeply believe people should care about it,” said Sattler. “It’s our world, it’s our environment.”

According to Air Transport Action Group, global aviation industry produces around 2.1 percent of all human-induced emissions. At Hartsfield-Jackson, there are three different emission sources.

Scope 1: Emissions created on site (i.e., fleet inventory, ground transportation)

Scope 2: Emissions purchased from the grid (i.e., electricity)

Scope 3: Emissions the airport has no control over (i.e., airlines, other tenants)

“100% renewable and clean energy means addressing each one of those,” Denno said.

So, what does that look like? The airport wants to electrify its fleet. Two of its buses are already fully electric. Denno said it means investing in more solar, wind and other sources of alternative energy. The airport recently entered a pilot program with Georgia Power to analyze its electricity use and identify possible conservation measures.

“By looking at our existing building stock, which is our major footprint right now, and identifying the opportunities to increase their efficiency, we lessen that footprint,” Denno explained.

As for the buildings on-site, seven are already LEED certified, a globally recognized symbol of sustainability. Nine others are in the works. Sattler said while green efforts aren’t always noticed, the impact – whether immediate or long-term - is far-reaching.

“It’s this great cascade of effects, positive effects, when you start looking at these sorts of things,” she said. “I truly believe this is an achievable goal.”

The full sustainable management plan is expected to be released later in 2022.