ATL becomes nation’s first airport ecodistrict

Filed in Sustainability by on January 10, 2014

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If Hartsfield-Jackson feels a little greener in recent months, it could be because, over the summer, ATL became the nation’s first airport ecodistrict.

If the word “ecodistrict” seems unfamiliar, that’s understandable. There’s not an official, universally accepted, definition for the term just yet, explains Shelly Lamar, a DOA planning manager who oversees aspects of the Airport’s sustainability program. Typically, however, it’s understood to describe a neighborhood or community whose members have adopted a set of specific and measurable goals for implementing successful sustainable development and practices.

“The Airport already had its own sustainable management plan,” says Lamar, adding that the Airport is currently seen as a leader in such ecodistrict musts as water-resource management and community vitality. “This program is for the benefit of the entire Hartsfield-Jackson community,” including airlines, concessions vendors, and contractors.

Using the guidelines developed by EcoDistricts.org, a Portland, OR-based trade organization, ATL stakeholders agreed to focus on improvements in such areas as energy usage; air quality and carbon emissions; access and mobility; and materials managements. After months of planning and coordination, Airport EcoDistrict ATL was formally established Sept. 10.

While the Airport is not the first recognized ecodistrict in Atlanta – the Midtown business district claims that title – Lamar says Hartsfield-Jackson is the first airport ecodistrict in the U.S. and, quite likely, the world.

The next step, she says, is to form a steering committee composed of shareholders representatives who will establish a plan of action, a timeline, a training program for airport employees, and the methodology for determining how well the new ecodistrict is meeting its eco-goals.

Those goals are expected to include:

  • Reducing electrical consumption by 20 percent
  • Expanding the number of electrical vehicle charging stations
  • Establishing a program to increase employee commuting options
  • Reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills – ultimately to zero

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