Case Study

Conserving water at North American Airports

Environmental Operations

Potable water is a precious resource, increasingly scarce in many regions of North America and around the world. For large pieces of infrastructure like airports, which require significant amounts of water for their day to day needs, ensuring that proper policies are in place to avoid wasting water is vital.

To help its member airports manage their water consumption effectively, Airports Council North America (ACI-NA) have produced best practice guidelines that set out methods by which airports can reduce waste. Since the development of ACI-NA Environmental Goals in 2009 (of which water efficiency is one), over 60% of airports responding to the environmental benchmarking survey have developed water conservation programmes, and approximately 30% of the respondents have set specific water use reduction goals.

The advice contained in the guidelines include:

o Installing low-flow plumbing fixtures in terminals and administrative buildings such as: automatic shutoff fixtures; waterless urinals; and low-flow toilets and faucets;

o Utilising native or drought-tolerant plant species for landscaping;

o Using gray water for landscaping; capture and collect rain water for non-potable uses;

o Partnering with tenants to develop water conservation strategies for airport businesses, for example, rental car facility car washing with reclaimed or “gray” water;

o Training and education of airport staff;

o Promoting water conservation to airport passengers;

o Coordinating with local water utility;

o Optimising cooling tower makeup water consumption, convert open loop evaporative humidifiers with closed loop versions, replace open loop water cooled condensers by air cooled, or closed-loop water cooled condensers.