RDU Returns its Focus to Developing the Airport’s First Sustainability Management Plan

You may recall RDU was the first public entity in the Research Triangle region to deploy emission-free electric buses in 2019. Did you also know that Terminal 1 is a certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building? LEED is a designation awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council for buildings constructed using green building strategies.

These two examples highlight RDU’s efforts to incorporate sustainable practices into airport development and operations. As RDU continues to grow, we are taking the next step to enhance sustainable practices by developing RDU’s first Sustainability Management Plan (SMP).

The purpose of the SMP is to guide the airport’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, waste, and energy use, to manage resources efficiently and improve the airport experience for travelers, tenants, employees and neighbors. The SMP will help integrate environmental sustainability into the airport’s planning, construction, maintenance, operations and design processes.

Development of the SMP began in 2019. In early 2020, the Authority held meetings with internal and external advisory groups to inform and engage them on the purpose and goals of the SMP. The Authority also hosted a public workshop to introduce the nine sustainability focus areas and provide the public with baseline data. The workshop and public outreach also captured feedback from the community on steps the Authority might explore to improve the airport’s environmental, social and fiscal sustainability.

The SMP was put on hold last spring when the Authority adopted a survival budget in response to the global pandemic’s impact on passenger traffic. Fortunately, the Authority recently resumed the SMP development process in light of the airport’s recovery.

The internal and external advisory groups reconvened in August to receive an update on the status and goals of the project, and discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic may have impacted airport operations and the nine focus areas in the short or long-term.

Public engagement is an important piece in the development of the SMP. The Authority will continue to engage the two advisory groups throughout the development process. We will also hold public workshops in the coming months to provide the community another opportunity to share feedback and learn more about the nine SMP focus areas:

  • Business Continuity and Resiliency
  • Sustainable Buildings and Infrastructure
  • Land Use and Natural Resources
  • Energy
  • Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Management
  • Sustainable Transportation
  • Materials and Waste
  • Water and Stormwater
  • Community, Customers, and Employees

The SMP is expected to be finalized by Summer 2022. You can learn more about the SMP and future community involvement opportunities here.