The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) unveiled a new, bold agenda to reduce carbon emissions across all facilities and become Net Zero by 2031, coinciding with the Authority’s 75th anniversary. The Roadmap to Net Zero focuses on 100% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions directly controlled by Massport-owned facilities, equipment, and purchased electricity, with continued influence in areas the Authority does not control. The plan outlines the steps Massport will take to reduce emissions within the decade, directly benefitting neighboring communities and further preparing the Authority for the impacts of climate change.
“Massport is committed to working with our surrounding communities to reduce our impacts to the environment, while remaining focused on supporting the region’s economy,” said Massport Board Chairman Lew Evangelidis. “Massport’s Roadmap to Net Zero aligns with the Commonwealth’s climate goals.”
Massport will accomplish this by:
• Improving energy efficiency in buildings through design standards and operational controls;
• Transitioning to clean fuel sources such as renewable electricity, renewable natural gas, etc.;
• Generating as much renewable energy as possible on-site, and make off-site renewable energy purchases;
• Acquiring renewable energy credits, renewable identification numbers, and carbon offsets as a transition strategy, for the fossil fuel sources that cannot be reduced, electrified or switched to renewable energy in the near-term;
• Implementing all remaining facility-specific initiatives identified to ultimately reach net zero.
“The pandemic gave us an opportunity to rethink the way we do business going forward, and we are now on the path to Net Zero,” said Massport CEO Lisa Wieland. “This is a real commitment, with aggressive goals, tied to real actions that will take us to Net Zero by 2031, which also happens to be Massport’s 75th anniversary. While we get our own house in order, simultaneously we will be working with our business partners on ways they can help reduce emissions.”
For any areas where emissions cannot be reduced to zero, Massport will invest in carbon offsets to reach the target. The Authority expects to be Net Zero without offsets by 2040. Carbon offsets are investments in GHG reducing projects, such as a solar farm, that diminish the impact of an organization’s own GHG emissions. Massport’s aim would be to purchase offsets that benefit local projects within the Commonwealth.
“As an East Boston resident and community advocate, I’m glad to see Massport making this commitment to becoming Net Zero that will greatly benefit neighboring cities and towns,” said John Nucci, Massport Board member and Chair of the Community Outreach Committee. “Logan Airport and Massport’s other facilities create greenhouse gases that impact our neighbors and this plan takes real steps to improve air quality and reduce those impacts.”
Components of the phased plan controlled by Massport include items like upgrading lighting systems across all facilities to LEDs, which has already been started, to rehabilitating Logan Airport’s Central Heating Plant, upgrading the Logan Express and shuttle bus fleet to electric vehicles, and installing more solar panels and renewable energy sources.
There is also a section of the plan including emissions that Massport does not control, but can possibly influence. One such example of an area of potential influence would be to enable use of SAF at Logan. SAF, or sustainable aviation fuels, are a renewable/cleaner substitute for fossil jet fuels that reduce carbon emissions and improve the air quality. It is estimated that more than 99% of airline emissions and approximately 50% of airport emissions worldwide are related to the combustion of jet fuel. This past fall, President Biden announced a goal for U.S. companies to produce at least 3 billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030 and, by 2050, sufficient SAF to meet 100% of aviation fuel demand, which is currently projected to be around 35 billion gallons per year. Massport will work to enable use of SAF at our three airports and encourage our airline partners to transition to this alternative fuel while longer term strategies are evaluated, approved and adopted.
Massport currently has several programs to reduce emissions and has had success with environmental initiatives. Past projects include:
• On-airport clean-fuel buses since the mid-1990s;
• In 2001, Hanscom Field became the first U.S. airport to earn ISO 14001 certification for its Environmental Management Systems (EMS);
• In 2003, Conley Terminal was the first U.S. container terminal to implement an EMS and receive ISO 14001 certification;
• In 2005, Logan’s Terminal A redevelopment was the first LEED® Certified airport terminal in the world;
• Installation of on-site renewable energy sources, including solar and wind;
• Developed more than 37 acres of greenspace within our surrounding communities;
• two new parks currently being designed in East Boston will be an additional 8 acres
• Since 1990, Massport has invested more than $100 million in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) transportation to and from Logan Airport, including the Logan Express system and free MBTA Silver Line service to South Station;
• In 2014, completed the Rental Car Center at Logan- a LEED Gold certified building that consolidated nine rental car agencies into one center; reduced 100 diesel buses trips to 28 hybrid buses per hour; decreased shuttle bus vehicle miles by 70%, with an accompanying 35% decrease in airport-related emissions. The facility also has rooftop solar panels that account for 5% of the building’s energy usage;
• Cut carbon emissions at Logan by 40% by 2019 – goal was 2020;
• Cut energy consumption at Logan by 25% by 2019 – goal was 2020.
Massport will continue to pursue outside funding to help pay for some of these projects. The Authority was recently awarded $600,000 by the Mass. Clean Energy Center for a pilot project to build electric vehicle infrastructure at Logan to catalyze the electrification of the ride-for-hire industry. In 2020, Massport received a $4M VALE grant to acquire charging stations at Logan for eGSE (electric ground service equipment). The EPA granted Massport $500,000 in 2018 to install airline owned eGSE charging stations at Logan’s Terminal B, and $330,000 in 2015 for a Clean Diesel Project at Conley Terminal.
The next steps in the road map will be prioritizing the projects, further data analysis, creating the budget strategy, and timeline.