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The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) is a leader in responding proactively to environmental concerns across a wide spectrum, ranging from a standard-setting noise mitigation program to the preservation of Minnesota’s natural resources.

The MAC views environmental sustainability as integral to its continued organizational success. A critical component of the MAC’s mission, related to the development and operation of airports is to "be environmental stewards of these public assets." This commitment of stewardship promotes a focus on meeting current needs, while ensuring that future generations will be able to meet theirs.

To institutionalize this stewardship pledge, the MAC established the Stewards of Tomorrow’s Airport Resources (STAR) Program in 2008. The MAC STAR Working Group is the focal point of internal coordination efforts related to MAC initiatives and programs that meet STAR Program principles. Comprised of employees from across the organization, the Group meets on a regular basis to share strategies and provide updates on projects that advance the STAR Program’s initiatives.

See the STAR brochure for details on several MAC programs that have been implemented consistent the STAR Program philosophy.

In 2013 the STAR Working Group restated its mission as follows:

“Recognizing the impact an organization’s and/or individual’s activities has on natural resources and the environment, the STAR Working Group actively seeks opportunities to support the implementation of measures that reduce pollution, resource consumption and waste in all of the MAC’s business activities. We strive to understand and minimize environmental impacts by raising awareness of the importance of sustainable practices.”

The 2013 STAR Working Group Work Plan details current activities that are underway. Increased emphasis is being placed on customizing an organizational Sustainability Plan that formalizes the integration of sustainability into the organization’s unique culture and provides a coordinated approach to establishing metrics, goals, strategies, and assessment and improvement frameworks that address long-term environmental, operational, financial and social needs. Updates on the progress of this initiative will be provided on this web page.

Projects and initiatives that have been advanced consistent with the STAR philosophy include:

Airport Noise and Mitigation Programs

The MAC has an industry standard-setting noise program. Learn more about our airport noise and mitigation programs at

Air Quality

The MAC has implemented a comprehensive program that targets air quality enhancements directly related to its operations at MSP. These efforts have included focusing on evaluating existing emissions trends and implementing programs to reduce emission impacts. 

Greenhouse Gas Reporting

The MAC publishes a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report that examines the annual CO2e emissions from MAC-owned and -controlled sources at MSP. The analysis determines the GHG emissions footprint for MSP as a whole, including emissions from other sources located at MSP. These other emission sources are not directly under MAC control, but may be influenced by MAC projects and jurisdictional responsibilities. The 2012 report found that:

  • 2012 MSP emissions were down 25% from 2005
  • MAC-controlled sources contribute 1% to the MSP emissions footprint
  • Aircraft emissions at MSP accounted for 95% of the total MSP CO2e emissions

Reducing Vehicle, GSE and Aircraft Emissions

The MAC continues to pursue emissions reductions through its vehicle procurement and management programs, aircraft servicing infrastructure strategies, and cooperation with new  Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) aircraft procedure advancements.  The MAC:
  • is working with the FAA on its efforts to implement PBN at MSP. Implementation of these procedures will support more efficient use of the airspace and provide for the integration of Optimized Profile Descents (OPD), which will reduce aircraft emissions at MSP significantly by reducing fuel consumption by as much as 2,400 pounds per arrival operation. This is a significant advancement given that aircraft emissions at MSP account for approximately 94% of the total MSP CO2e emissions.
  • owns and utilizes 79 flex-fuel engine vehicles, 4 electric and 2 hybrid vehicles. The MAC’s fleet consumption of unleaded fuel was reduced by 40% in 2012 compared to 2005. The MAC continues to expand the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles and is evaluating the addition of the first Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicle to its fleet in 2013.
  • is working to secure FAA VALE funding to assist Delta Air Lines with the possible integration of electric Ground Service Equipment at MSP in 2014/2015.
  • installed 400 Hz ground power to all gates at both Terminal 1-Lindbergh and Terminal 2-Humphrey and offers pre-conditioned air at all 117 T1 gates. Ninety-three percent of the gates at MSP are now equipped with Ground Power Units. As a result, airlines can connect aircraft to terminal power and air supply systems and shut down all aircraft engines or auxiliary power units (APU) while aircraft are at the gate. Airlines at MSP estimate using these systems instead of APUs has saved up to 3,500,000 gallons of jet fuel. Even though there is an associated increase in electricity consumption, the net CO2 emissions at MSP are reduced by more than 27,171 metric tons per year as a result of this project.
  • installed an underground hydrant system that delivers fuel to the gates and virtually eliminates the need for tanker fuel trucks in the ramp area. Motorless fueling carts at each gate transfer fuel from the underground system to aircraft fuel tanks. Fueling trucks would consume approximately 72,000 gallons of fuel annually while ferrying between gates. Eliminating such trips lessens vehicle fuel consumption significantly and reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 732 metric tons annually.
Transportation Infrastructure Efficiencies

Through major development initiatives, the MAC has maintained a focus on efficient access to air transportation services, while considering environmental impacts in the creative design and construction of supporting infrastructure.
  • To more efficiently transport passengers and airport employees between MSP’s terminal buildings, the MAC teamed with the Metropolitan Council to construct a light rail line that replaces conventional buses previously used for such transportation. The free-of-charge rail between the terminal complexes runs on electricity, eliminating an estimated 350 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually on the MSP campus.
  • The MAC reconstructed inbound and outbound roadways at MSP to ease traffic flow. These roadway enhancements have reduced congestion, traffic delays, and idling time at the terminals, thereby reducing CO2 emissions from automobile traffic.
  • Over the last 13 years, the MAC added nearly 18,000 new parking spaces at MSP, helping eliminate vehicular traffic congestion at the airport and reducing the need for curbside drop-offs and pick-ups. When local passengers park at the airport, CO2 emissions are cut in half because the vehicle they arrive in isn’t making a round-trip to and from the airport. This is a significant overall reduction in the off-airport CO2 footprint associated with MSP operations.
  • The MAC has implemented ePark®, an electronic payment method that helps speed customers through the parking exit plaza, virtually eliminating vehicle idling time caused by waiting for attendants to process each vehicle’s parking fee. This has reduced exit plaza processing time by more than 80 percent and eliminates over 138 metric tons of CO2.
  • To eliminate the amount of vehicle traffic crossing the airfield runways and taxiways, and to make on-airport traffic flow more efficient, the MAC constructed several vehicle tunnels throughout MSP. The increased efficiency of traffic flow, with shortened distances traveled, and reduced idling time at runways and taxiways reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 153 tons per year.
  • Runway 17/35 opened for service on October 27, 2005, increasing MSP’s airfield capacity by as much as 25 percent. This increased capacity reduced CO2 emissions at MSP by reducing the potential for aircraft needing to enter into airborne holding patterns or ground holds while congestion clears, and by reducing the length of taxiing time by increasing the number of operating runways and taxiways. Reducing the number of aircraft delays also reduced idling time for those vehicles waiting for arriving passengers. 

Green Buildings, Facilities & Infrastructure

The MAC is committed to developing green buildings and to operating its facilities in ways that conserve energy, water and other natural resources.

  • In 2011, the MAC began a multi-year restroom remodeling project. Materials and fixtures were chosen based on durability, safety, energy and water conservation, ease of cleaning and maintenance, ergonomics, and accessibility – criteria that add up to a sustainable, long-lasting design and superior customer experience.
  • Natural light from the sun is a cheap and environmentally-friendly source for indoor lighting. Generally, day-lighting minimizes the amount of artificial light needed in a space, reducing electricity costs. It can also lower heating and cooling costs by reducing the amount of heat generated by electrical lighting. Both Terminal 2-Humphrey and newer portions of Terminal 1-Lindbergh already benefit from incorporating this technique into its facility improvement plans.

Energy Conservation/Renewable Energy

  • Through a dedicated annual Capital Improvement Program project to upgrade electrical infrastructure/equipment, significant energy conservation projects have been completed and are underway. In 2012 solar panels, solar-powered light poles and solar tubes (“sky lights”) were installed at the MAC Trades Center.
  • In 2013 the MAC issued a Request for Proposal to solicit interest in a partnership to install a photovoltaic solar energy facility on top of airport parking ramps. This project could provide a 3 MW renewable energy source.
  • Since the program was initiated in 2002, the ongoing completion of the MAC’s Energy Conservation Program, through an annual $1 million project budget, has provided cumulative energy cost reductions that exceeded the cost of improvements. Utility bill costs have been reduced by approximately $4.11 million per year as of December 2012. In 2012 the program focused on mechanical, electrical, lighting and conveyance system upgrades. This project results in a net CO2 reduction at MSP in excess of 12,996 metric tons annually.

Waste Management and Recycling at MSP

The MAC is committed to reducing and recycling waste whenever possible.
Did you know the MAC recycles more than what is thrown in the recycling containers at the airport?

  • The MAC recycles: paper, cardboard, metal, glass and plastic bottles, batteries, food/organic waste, grease, wood pallets, tires, construction materials, tree/yard waste, paint, automotive oil, antifreeze, solvents, deicing fluid, light-bulbs and printer cartridges.
  • In 2012 the MAC recycled or diverted 1,258 tons of materials, avoiding more than $141,000 in disposal costs.
  • Since 2001 the MAC has saved just under $1 million dollars in waste disposal costs by recycling these products.
  • Travelers at MSP can help the MAC continue its recycling success story by recycling their glass, paper, plastic and aluminum products. Co-mingled receptacles are now available both inside and outside the secure area. Look for these containers when disposing of magazines, newspapers, cans and bottles.
Customers enjoy a wide range of dining options at MSP. While these establishments do all they can to minimize all types of waste, some waste, including food waste, is inevitable.
In 2009, the MAC recognized it had a unique opportunity to reduce the amount of food/organic waste entering the solid waste stream by designing and implementing programs for diverting these wastes.
  • In 2012, 91.10 tons of used cooking oil/grease was recycled. The used cooking oil is sent offsite and converted into biodiesel.
  • In 2010, the MAC implemented a pilot program for back-of-house organic waste composting. Partnering with one of its concessionaires and its janitorial company, in 2012 the MAC was able to divert and compost 161 tons of food waste, keeping it out of the local waste stream.
  • There are 28 restaurants at Terminal 1-Lindbergh participating in the program. By year-end 2013, all restaurants at MSP are expected to be participating in the program.

Watch this video about the organics waste recycling program at MSP.