Helping airports to reduce environmental impacts and deliver sustainable growth

Ricardo Energy & Environment supporting sustainable solutions for airports

The environmental impacts of aviation (carbon emissions, air quality, ecological impact and noise) are constantly in the spotlight and present considerable challenges to airports around the world. Environmental impact not only affects day to day operations, but is also a significant barrier to the future development and growth of airports.

Ricardo Energy & Environment helps you understand the current impacts of your airport and how to mitigate them to enable more sustainable, competitive and profitable future growth. Ricardo Energy & Environment has been working with airports around the world for over 20 years, from which we have developed an in-depth understanding of the unique challenges facing airports. Our knowledge spans not only a wide range of environmental requirements including carbon emissions, air quality, ecology and energy management, but we also have extensive experience in providing innovative engineering solutions to complex airport challenges such as developing a low carbon automated airplane taxiing vehicle.

We support airports at each stage of the sustainability strategy life-cycle, which includes the following services:

Airport environmental quality process

Our airport services are delivered across a number of key areas, select the relevant topic to read more:

Air quality

Sustainable transport

Energy management

Low carbon operations

Airport development

Resource efficiency 

Noise management 



Air quality

There is growing pressure on airports to minimise their impact on air quality, driven by the health impacts to local residents and customers, and requirements to meet national and international air quality regulations. Ricardo Energy & Environment combines international airport based air quality knowledge with experience in developing and implementing the latest air quality management technology and modelling tools, to support long-term sustainable airport growth.

Our air quality services for airports include:

  • Design, installation, operation and management of air quality monitoring stations to support compliance reporting and future forecasting
  • Portable air quality measurement systems: installation and monitoring, airport-specific drive cycle development, occupational exposure studies, allowing situation specific analysis of air quality issues
  • Provision of advice on current best practice, emerging technologies, air quality improvement strategies and research to help drive down emissions and improve air quality
  • Compilation of air pollutant emission inventories for airports and their environs, to undersand the sources of pollution and target and assess improvement measures
  • Detailed dispersion modelling of current pollutant emissions for forecasting future air quality and assessing the impact of improvement strategies

Our experience includes:

  • Delivering robust and quality assured air quality monitoring and data collection for Europe’s busiest airport, Heathrow, since 1986.
  • Managing the UK’s National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory since its inception.
  • Modelling and assessment of air quality improvement strategies for Heathrow and Gatwick airports and numerus UK local authorities
  • Supporting Heathrow airport in its air quality modelling to support its third runway expansion plans

For more information about supporting your airport’s air quality requirements, please click here.


Noise management and modelling

Noise is often regarded by those living locally as the most significant concern associated with airport operations and development. Effective management of the impacts of noise is critical to securing future development and requires assessment of the scale of the impacts, adoption of a balanced approach and attention to both acoustic and non-acoustic factors (such as trust and community engagement).

Through our partnership with Anderson Acoustics, we are able to offer expert noise monitoring, modelling, assessment, management and strategy development services based on over 20 years’ experience working in aviation noise management, operations and communications.

Our air quality services for airports include:

  • Independently verified modelling of aircraft noise.  
  • GIS analysis of modelling outputs to enable community level understanding - including demographic and built environment mapping to identify areas of concern (schools, hospitals, residential). 
  • Development and production of a scorecard of metrics (traditional and supplementary) to communicate exposure at a policy and community level to build common understanding. 
  • Analysis, assessment and insight on data held in airport noise systems to understand the baseline situation and trends (both operational and noise related). 
  • Best practice and benchmarking research of other comparable airports. 
  • Development of Noise Strategy and Management plans based on analysis, evidence and latest research that balance the needs of the airport and the local community. 
  • Airspace design that balances the needs of noise and environmental policy and operational efficiency. • Community communication and engagement to build trust. 
  • Operational analysis of fleet, routes, runway use, flight paths, runway occupancy and stand usage. • Modelling and assessment of ground noise sources, and associated mitigation design includes Airport layout, operating procedures and barriers.
  • Construction noise management, building and environmental acoustics for on-airfield works including new aprons, taxiways, stands, terminal extensions and runways.

Our experience includes:

  • Development, assessment, modelling, analysis and presentation of the noise management strategy and exposure for the expansion proposals for Heathrow Airport to the UK airports commission. This included airspace design, Airport design, forecasting, general principles of the future airport operation, and the development and communication of key messages.  
  • Analysis and modelling of airspace change design and trials for Heathrow Airport, including flight track analysis, operational analysis, noise modelling and detailed analysis of measured noise data.  
  • Industry-leading research into the design and benefits of respite. 
  • Analysis and modelling of the implications of the ICAO noise abatement departure procedure families for Birmingham Airport. 
  • Providing support to Heathrow Airport for the ongoing development of their noise management strategy and noise action plan. Including modelling of operational changes, analysis of noise level data, fleet analysis for developing noise charging scenarios and development of noise insulation schemes. 
  • Development of a 5 year noise management strategy for Malta International Airport. 
  • Construction noise assessment and consent for airfield works including runway resurfacing, apron development and terminal extension at London City Airport on behalf of the works contractor

For more information about supporting your airport’s noise management requirements, please click here.


Sustainable transport and fleet management

Effective implementation of sustainable transport enables airports to significantly reduce their impact on the environment and lower operating costs. Ricardo Energy & Environment has been working on sustainable transport policies, strategy and plans for airports for over 20 years and our experts understand how to maximise the opportunities from transport efficiencies and ground fleet emissions management.

Our sustainable airport transport services include:

  • Vehicle fleet analysis and alternative fuel options appraisal to help fleet operators to reduce their emissions and improve cost efficiencies
  • Electric vehicle recharging network demand analysis, design and optimisation, to support a smooth electrification of ground vehicle fleets balancing sufficient supply to meet demand with a sound business case
  • Electric vehicle trial management, procurement and early deployment support to help prove the operational capability and business case for deploying electric vehicles in various use cases
  • Vehicle pooling strategies and fleet optimisation, to help fleet managers to optimise their fleets
  • Engagement and behaviour change strategies for drivers and operators, to help reduce fuel consumption and accident rates, whilst maximising opportunities for cost savings
  • Airport fleet operator engagement fora to share information and encourage adoption of low emission vehicles amongst vehicle operators not directly under the control of airports
  • Zero emissions zone modelling, planning and development , to support a long-term transition towards low emissions ground-based fleets
  • Alternative aircraft taxi mechanisms and associated modelling, to reduce the environmental impact of aircraft taxiing

Our experience

  • Running Heathrow Airport’s trial of electric vehicles, including analysis of user, chargepoint and vehicle telematics data
  • Running the Heathrow Clean Vehicle Partnership for nearly 10 years, an engagement tool aimed at encouraging and supporting adoption of low emission vehicles amongst the various fleet operators outside of the direct control of Heathrow’s own fleet
  • Various detailed assessments we have performed for the European Commission on the technology options and costs to reduce road transport emissions to meet long-term targets
  • Running the Department for Transport’s SAFED programme for training drivers in safe and fuel efficient driving
  • Working with various operators at both Heathrow and Gatwick airports to help them to understand economic opportunities for deploying low emissions vehicles
  • Developing alternative taxiing strategies for the US Department of Transport to support the low carbon strategies of North American airports.  
  • Designing a US  rapid electric vehicle charging network and infrastructure

For more information about supporting your airport’s fleet and transport requirements, please click here.


Energy management and infrastructure

Increasing energy regulations and the need to reduce costs continue to place growing pressure on airports energy management processes. Ricardo & Environment’s airport team specialise in techno-economic energy management services, with particular emphasis on the power infrastructure, renewable energy and energy management.

Our energy management and infrastructure services include:

  • Terminal energy strategy – providing a clear and coherent set of actions to cut energy costs, starting with the simplest and best investments
  • Energy management – identifying the options with the quickest and highest returns
  • Combined heat and power (CHP) assessment – options to reduce electricity and heat costs and carbon emissions
  • Renewable energy options analysis – reducing dependence on fossil fuels and hedging against future energy price rises
  • Grid infrastructure – assessing the impact of EV charging on infrastructure & costs

Our experience includes:

  • Identification of opportunities and development of business models for wind and solar PV installations on the land estate and building owned by Highways Engaland
  • Feasibility of solar PV system adjacent to an airport, including assessment of financial returns planning and glare issues
  • Assessment of District Heating system options using CHP and biomass to heat business parks and urban areas
  • Audit and feasibility of renewable heating systems, including biomass and heat pumps

For more information about supporting your airport’s energy management requirements, please click here.


Low carbon operations

Airports are very much in the public eye, they must therefore be seen to be considering all their environmental impacts and communicating them to their audience effectively.  They therefore require a robust and accurate carbon footprint to understand progress against the required carbon reduction targets and regulations. In addition, the forthcoming Non-Financial Reporting requirements will require all organisations with more than 500 employees to consider a much wider range of impacts and disclose them annually.  Ricardo Energy & Environment has extensive global experience of supporting airports to delivery low carbon operations that support compliance with regulations, manage environmental impact, reduce costs and enable long-term sustainable business development.

Our low carbon operational services include:

  • Regulatory assistance (eg ESOS, CRC) to maximise opportunities from carbon reductions and support compliance.
  • Greenhouse gas inventories to identify the ‘low hanging fruit’ where emissions savings can be cost-effectively made
  • Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) and carbon footprint auditing , to help airports to achieve excellence in the field of carbon management and plan their transition towards a low carbon future
  • Support sourcing financing for the implementation of GHG reducing measures to improve efficiency

Our experience

  • Helping Bristol Airport to achieve Level 1 accreditation for the Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme. As qualified assessors we audited and reviewed their carbon data against the required standards.
  • Lead Assessor support for Glasgow Airport. Our support enabled the airport to comply with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), the UK’s regulations that align with Article 8 of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive.
  • ESOS compliance support for Bristol airport, including energy data analysis and energy auditing. As part of this work, we audited buildings and transport operations and identified opportunities to save over £50,000 on annual energy bills.
  • Helping British Airways to comply with ESOS, including undertaking site audits and reviewing opportunities for on-site energy generation.
  • Ongoing support to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports to calculate and report their annual carbon footprints.

For more information about supporting your airport’s low carbon operations, please click here.


Airport development, environmental impact assessment and regulatory support

To comply with regulations and support long-term growth plans, Airports need to monitor and understand the impact of their current operations on the local environment. We have a thorough understanding of the risk airport operations can pose to the environment and measures that can be put in place to reduce their potential impact.

In addition, development projects require an increasingly innovative approach to managing environmental impacts, including (but not limited to) changes in surface water runoff rates, water quality issues which could result in flooding or permit compliance issues thereby severely impacting operational efficiency and profitability.

Ricardo Energy & Environment has worked with airports around the world to help mitigate the impacts of their operations to the local environment and developed preparedness for business contingency from the impacts of development and climate change.

Our services include:

  • Environmental Permit application and regulatory support – environmental permit applications, including liaison with key regulatory stakeholders such as the Environment Agency and Natural England but also local stakeholder groups. Our thorough, pro-active approach provides substantial benefits to our clients and reduced business risks.
  • Water discharges compliance monitoring and assessment – environmental permit compliance monitoring and assessment, ensuring that this takes account of the most recent developments in legislation such as the Water Framework Directive and providing clients with comprehensive interpretation of results to highlight compliance and business risks and measures to mitigate risks. This work is complemented by ecological monitoring, as appropriate, to determine the longer term baseline of the receiving waterbodies and align this with regulator objectives.
  • Airport development and expansion – in-house planning and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) experts capable of covering all EIA topics, including large scale EIA projects and supporting airports with discharging of planning conditions.
  • Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and operational resilience – site-specific and strategic airport-wide flood risk assessments, taking into account key infrastructure, offsite assets and access routes.

Some highlights from our recent experience:

  • Supported Bristol Airport with planning conditions for the future development and physical expansion of the terminal, including regulatory support and stakeholder engagement.
  • Monitoring de-icant glycol concentrations in balancing lagoons and treatment facilities for Europe’s busiest airport, Heathrow, to enable them to meet their regulatory obligations.
  • Environmental risk assessment for Southampton Airport to review the potential effects of flooding on airport operations, including off-site infrastructure such as access routes, energy supplies and transport.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment for Hong Kong International Airport, which involves creation of a new area of land; and assessing impacts on terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecology and water quality, amongst others.
  • Track record of supporting a number of UK airports with their water management in terms of quantity and quality.

For more information about supporting your airport’s water and ecology management requirements, please click here.


Resource efficiency and waste management

Increasing costs of landfill combined with recycling targets and increased public expectations surrounding facility provision have raised the importance of efficient, cost-effective recycling and waste management solutions for airports. Savings and segregation improvements can be made across a wide range of areas including supply chain, waste collection contracts, landside and airside collection systems, as well as grounds maintenance services. Ricardo Energy & Environment’s team works with airports to help meet these challenges and move to more sustainable waste management systems while reducing costs.

Our resource efficiency and waste management services for airports include:

  • Waste audits and composition analysis to help airports understand the quantity and types of waste being generated from different on-site areas and operations.
  • Waste collection system reviews to assess current performance (including capture rates and contamination levels) and identify potential improvements, leading to efficiencies and cost savings.
  • Waste modelling – waste-flow modelling, life-cycle assessment, WRATE modelling and other modelling techniques to understand the carbon and environmental impacts of waste and recycling services, and plan for the future by predicting the impact of potential changes in legislation, waste composition and waste arisings.
  • Procurement and bid support to help airports develop procurement strategies, prepare contract documents and evaluate tenders for waste and ground maintenance contracts.
  • Food waste collections – working with stakeholders, including caterers and cleaning contractors, in the design and introduction of food waste collection and disposal systems.
  • Training and capacity building to assess current training needs, develop capacity-building programmes and deliver bespoke training to support staff in all aspects of waste to ensure they are up to date, motivated and committed.
  • Communications and stakeholder engagement to develop effective resource efficiency communication and engagement strategies.

Our experience:

  • Waste composition analysis to monitor performance and support improvement of recycling schemes in two English airports.
  • Supported an airport service delivery contractor in their response to an English airport’s procurement of grounds maintenance services.
  • Developed a waste flow model to enable an airport in the south of England to project waste arisings at all terminals, and investigated the environmental and financial costs of different disposal methods for a 15-year period.
  • Operational service review to improve segregation in ‘pre-search’ areas of a Scottish airport.
  • Performance review of waste management systems and identification of service improvements for waste segregation throughout a Scottish airport including the introduction of a ‘pay-as-you-throw' charging systems for tenants and concessionaries.



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