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22 January 2010 | PR 10/08

Saying goodbye at airports the green way

An airport

 

Groundbreaking work is under way at Loughborough University to establish just how big a carbon footprint is created by travel to and from airports.

The study is the first of its kind in the world to look at this issue. It also aims to pinpoint innovative measures that will cut these emissions, such as:

The study is being carried out by a team from Loughborough’s Department of Civil and Building Engineering, along with colleagues from the Universities of Cranfield and Leeds.  It is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

“Aviation is a significant source of carbon emissions, but it’s not just the planes that are a problem,” says project leader Dr Tim Ryley of Loughborough University.  “Travelling to and from airports also has a big impact, but no-one has yet quantified it or identified how to reduce it. This study will address that gap in our understanding.”

The study will focus on two UK airports – one international and one regional – and generate recommendations that the aviation industry, airport authorities and policy-makers can implement to reduce aviation’s overall carbon footprint.

The study will look at every kind of journey to and from airports.  It will not only take into account people catching a flight but also those seeing off or meeting friends and relatives, as well as airline and airport employees.  It will also assess the impact of different types of delivery (food, fuel etc), freight  movement and other logistics associated with airport terminals and surrounding facilities.

Importantly, as well as devising and evaluating innovative ways of reducing the carbon footprint of airport journeys (using tried and tested computer modelling techniques) and quantifying their carbon reduction potential, the study will conduct market research to explore how receptive people would be to any recommended changes.

“There’s no point developing and implementing a carbon-reduction measure if it won’t work in the real world – perhaps because it involves people paying more than they’re prepared to pay,” says Dr Ryley.  “So developing a realistic understanding of attitudes and motivations with respect to people’s environmental behaviour will be key to delivering a practical set of recommendations.”

An important feature of the project is its interdisciplinary nature, harnessing social sciences and economics alongside engineering and the physical sciences.

The study is due to deliver its conclusions by the end of 2012.

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Judy Wing
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: J.L.Wing@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

1. An Image is available from the Public Relations Office

2. The three-year study ‘The ABC Project – Airports and Behavioural Change: Towards Environmental Surface Access Travel’ will receive total EPSRC funding of just under £492,000.

The idea for the study emerged, along with five other airport operations-related projects, from an EPSRC IDEAS Factory ‘sandpit’ that took place in November 2008.  A sandpit is a residential interactive workshop over five days involving 20-30 participants, the director and a number of independent stakeholders.  An essential element is a highly multidisciplinary mix of participants, including active researchers as well as potential users of research outcomes, to drive lateral thinking and radical approaches to addressing particular research challenges. For more on the sandpit process, please see: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/ResearchFunding/Opportunities/ Networking/IDEASFactory/WhatIsASandpit.htm

The two UK airports to be studied as part of this initiative will be decided in early 2010.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests around £850 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. Website address for more information on EPSRC: www.epsrc.ac.uk/

3. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2009 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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