The recent change in the United States administration comes with a renewed focus on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria air pollutants. President Biden has directed federal agencies to reexamine the previous administration’s rules under the Clean Air Act.

ESA’s Airports group can help airport sponsors navigate the federal application process and get their projects off the ground.

In February 2021, CEOs from a number of airlines met (virtually) with officials from the Biden administration to push for initiatives to create a more sustainable and cleaner aviation industry. Given the national momentum toward reducing emissions, combined with shrinking capital budgets due to COVID-19, now is a perfect time for airport sponsors to start planning for how they can incorporate low-emission improvement projects into their day-to-day operations at minimal cost.

The practice of using federal grants for projects that reduce on-airport emissions is well established, and many airport sponsors have been taking advantage of them for years. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) Program, which started in 2004, funded approximately $13 million worth of projects in 2020. Other federal grants that were leveraged in 2020 to help pay for low-emission equipment at airports include the FAA Airport Zero Emissions Vehicle and Infrastructure Pilot (ZEV) Program and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) National Grants Program.

Depending on eligibility, airport sponsors could receive up to 90 percent reimbursement of costs for low-emission improvement projects on airport property. Federal grants can cover everything from project formulation to design and engineering fees, the purchase of equipment, and even the installation of key supporting infrastructure. The types of projects that receive federal funding vary widely based on the specific needs and requirements of each individual airport. Previously funded low-emission projects at airports include electric recharging ports, renewable energy upgrades, capital improvements, gate electrification, and much more. If you are eligible for federal funding and have an idea of a project that reduces emissions, there could be money available to help your project come to fruition.

Early planning and preparation are essential to receive federal funds for low-emission improvement projects on airport property. The ESA Airports group can help clients throughout the entire federal application process, from project formulation to application preparation. If you would like more information, please contact Jeffrey Covert or Neal Wolfe.