The Future of Sustainable Airports

San Diego Airport Going Green Dylan Welch
International Terminal at San Diego Airport

The transportation industry is seeing a massive overhaul of its practices to become more environmentally friendly and sustainable. From the food and drinks they serve in their terminals, to the fuel they are using to power their planes, airports around the world are taking a major initiative to lead the way in sustainable travel.

Going Green had the chance to sit down with Brendan Reed, the Director of Planning & Environmental Affairs at San Diego Airport Authority, to learn more about his vision for a more sustainable airports.

Tell us your title and where you work:

I am the Director of Planning & Environmental Affairs at San Diego Airport Authority.

Tell us a little bit about you and your background: 

I have been in the environmental management and policy profession for nearly 20 years, with experience working in NGOs, public agencies, and the private sector. My current role is the Director of Planning & Environmental Affairs for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, which owns and operates the San Diego International Airport and is responsible for long-term air transportation planning for the region.

I also serve as the Chair of the Airports Council International – North America’s Environmental Affairs Committee. In 2020, I was recognized with a National Climate Leadership Award and an Airports Going Green Award for my contributions to the airport industry in sustainability leadership.

What caused you to get into your industry?

My career started in academia, with a research focus on subtidal marine ecosystems.  Eventually, I moved into a more policy-oriented role in environmental resource management.   For the past 15 years, I have led the development of numerous programs and initiatives related to sustainable energy, water stewardship, clean transportation, climate action planning, and corporate sustainability reporting.

Edelweiss taking off with the San Diego skyline in the background.

What trends are you seeing in your industry?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a re-focus on creating infrastructure that is resilient to future “shocks to the system.”  This offers a unique opportunity to embed energy and climate resiliency considerations into capital project design and construction.

What is one action item for our listeners and viewers to take away from this conversation?

I think that it is important for people to better understand how climate change may impact their communities and to ensure it is being taken into consideration within regional planning efforts and public works projects.

International Arrivals Facility Ribbon-Cutting

What is a fun fact about you?

When I was kid, I was a batboy for the Philadelphia Phillies.

What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?

I think that the aviation industry will significantly shift to sustainable jet biofuels over the next decade that will help reduce aircrafts’ carbon emissions. More broadly, I think that autonomous vehicles and equipment, including advanced air mobility, will become more commercialized and ubiquitous.

Brendon, thank you for taking the time to share your experience working with Sustainable Airports.

Brendon is going to be an upcoming guest on the Going Green Podcast. Going Green, hosted by Dylan Welch, interviews leading experts in cleantech, sustainability, media, finance, and real estate on the Going Green podcast. Tune in and subscribe to the podcast on Apple or Spotify to listen to interviews with leading cleantech and sustainable experts. If you are interested in being featured on Going Green, click HERE.

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Dylan Welch
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.
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