Revolving Funds for Sustainability Projects at Airports

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Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) led an Airport Cooperative Research Program project to create a how-to report for airports on the creation of “green” revolving funds. (The program is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.) Equipped with guidance, airports can generate new revenue from operational cost savings to pay for energy efficiency and emissions reduction projects. Secured operational savings can also be used to install on-site renewable energy and to increase resilience to grid power outages. 

Universities and cities have proven that revolving funds for sustainability work, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Virginia state airports have implemented partial versions. RMI integrated insights from these leading examples and consulted with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure that green revolving funds can function without jeopardizing federal grant requirements.

Airports have to navigate a complex finance environment, and energy champions need assurance that they can adopt innovative funding practices. The report, Revolving Funds for Sustainability Projects at Airports, provides practical tips and technical recommendations on how to form a team; instructions on how to capitalize the fund; guidance on recruiting critical tenants, such as airlines; suggestions on how to prioritize possible energy conservation measures; and examples of how to track and verify savings. RMI partnered with Cadmus, the Sustainable Endowments Institute, and Frasca & Associates to conduct the research. FAA financial support made the project possible. Copies of the report can be obtained here.