Embedding Sustainability, Resiliency, and Equity Into Asset Management Programs 

Aligning Strategies

Airports and other large infrastructure agencies are embedding the principles of sustainability, resiliency, and equity into their asset management programs – allowing them to make more immediate and impactful changes to society and meaningfully deliver on strategic goals.  In the recent past, there was a greater emphasis on embedding these considerations as part of large and strategically visible capital projects. Social -> Financial -> EnvironmentalMore recently, organizations have realized that the impacts can be much greater by applying these principles to lifecycle strategies of existing assets and state of good repair (SGR) projects including operations, maintenance, renewal, and replacement decisions – which can deliver additional benefits and outcomes.  The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) has further emphasized SGR investments.

Focusing on Implementation Outcomes

Airports have been adopting tactical approaches to incorporate sustainability, resiliency, and equity into decision making and ensure that infrastructure investments are prioritized based on performance impacts and risk-reduction.  Examples of current applications and themes from the aviation sector include:

  • A focus on funding preventive maintenance and inspection programs, both to extend asset life and ensure asset reliability, while also delivering energy efficiencies and reduced emissions.  When critical aviation facility equipment such as fleet, HVAC systems, and wastewater and stormwater pumping stations are under-maintained, inefficiencies and/or failures can have significant negative impacts on the environment, resiliency risk, energy use, and/or greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Building lifecycle management plans to ensure that critical sustainability and resiliency related systems have proactive investment strategies and funding including such on-site solar or wind generation, water recycling systems, and wastewater pre-treatment systems.  
  • Explicitly linking equity outcomes to maintenance strategies with a focus on workforce development including transit accessibility, community outreach, and local training workforce education opportunities.     
  • Using business cases and cost/benefit analysis to justify additional up-front costs of investments that deliver quantified TBL benefits over the long-term including positive environmental and resiliency outcomes such as longer service live, ongoing energy and water efficiency, and environmental and social outcomes for assets and systems such as green infrastructure and zero-emission vehicles.

Incorporating asset management programs and actively aligning them wider strategic goals helps ensure optimized decisions and outcomes at each stage of the lifecycle, with a specific emphasis on operations and maintenance.  As airports continue to advance their programs, asset managers should consider:

  • Incorporating sustainability, resiliency, and equity is just starting, and mangers should pilot new tools and approaches 
  • Asset management data can build a strong business case for infrastructure investment based on risk and TBL impact
  • There is significant opportunity for collaboration across sectors and agency departments as processes can be applied to all infrastructure categories and systems

Written by:

David C. Sklar
Senior Vice President, Advisory; National Aviation and Water Asset Management Lead
WSP USA Inc.