20:44 PM

Sustainability Visioning Sessions Bring a Range of Ideas to TPA

(August 21, 2013) - Support regional public transit. Use available roof surfaces to collect solar energy. Increase incentives to retain our airport workforce. Make the airport a more popular destination for community events.

These were a few of the many suggestions to come out of the Sustainability Master Plan visioning sessions, held in late July. Tampa International Airport held workshops for the public, for tenants and for Aviation Authority staff in the hopes of learning more about what issues matter to each group.

The results, said Project Director Alice Price, were wildly different from one session to the next. And that was the goal.

“It was interesting to compare the three groups, and that diversity is exactly what we were hoping to get,” Price said. “Different groups value different things and we need to take all of that into consideration when we create the Sustainable Master Plan. It’s that triple bottom line – that balance that addresses the needs of everyone, not just one or the other.”

Using live polling devices to calculate results in real time, the visioning participants were able to vote on which issues matter most to them, and then they split up into roundtable discussions to dig deeper and record specific concerns and suggestions.

Water conservation, reducing air pollution and energy efficient were voted as the top three priorities among the public group. The tenants said that enhancing TPA as an economic engine in the Tampa Bay area was most important to them. And the HCAA staff group’s priorities were spread fairly evenly among promoting workforce satisfaction, enhancing TPA as an economic engine, reducing energy use and conserving water.

There will be more opportunities for online surveys and public input as the project is still in its drafting stage, and the hope is to have a final draft by early next year, Price said. The resulting decisions will eventually make up the Sustainable Master Plan, which TPA was chosen to create as part of a Federal Aviation Administration pilot program. The sustainability plan will be incorporated into the airport’s Master Plan projects and will also be considered as the FAA creates a standardized sustainability plan for the nation’s airports.

Since publicizing the airport’s sustainability efforts, several community partners have come forward to offer advice and applaud TPA for its focus on being more socially, economically and environmentally progressive as it grows. The airport is already a member of the Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition and is part of the Hillsborough County Energy Management and Sustainability Workgroup. The University of South Florida and the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization have also reached out to explore partnership opportunities, though these are still in the discussion stages.

Price said she’s excited about the ideas and changes that will come from the Sustainable Master Plan, which is expected to have a huge impact on the Tampa Bay area for generations to come. But she also wanted to reassure people – from those outside the airport to everyone inside – that the airport will keep its great reputation for customer service and efficiency intact.

“No matter what we do to be sustainable, the projects will be grounded in common sense,” Price said. “Tampa International Airport is still going to be focused on our customers."