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June 10-12, 2025
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An Airport's Environmental Impact - Making Reductions With the Edmonton International Airport

How Edmonton International Airport Plans to Reduce Their Airport Environmental Impact

In 2021, the Edmonton International Airport in Alberta, Canada, was the first airport in the world to sign the airport climate pledge initiative and commit to reaching net-zero emissions by 2040. 

In our latest 5x5 series interview, Myron Keehn, Vice President, Air Service, and Business Development at the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) speaks with Rachel Gregory, Digital Host at The Global Energy Show, on the topic of airport environmental impact, air traffic management, being part of the climate pledge initiative, aircraft and vehicle maintenance, and the changes you can expect from the EIA. 

Reducing an Airports Environmental Impact with the Edmonton International Airport

The Importance of Joining the Climate Pledge Initiative

Rachel: Myron, why is taking action to reduce environmental impact through air travel and joining the climate pledge initiative an important measure for the EIA to commit to?

Myron: Every industry owes it to the future generation to ensure they're doing what they can to minimize the impacts on the planet. From the airport perspective, we've been actively involved in ESG for a number of years. Dating back to what we call expansion 2012, we doubled the size of our building but cut our energy intensity in half. 

What we believe is important is how we help not only ourselves as the airport, but all of our airport city sustainability campus partners to decarbonize and minimize their carbon footprint. It's not just environmental footprint; it's things like illegal wildlife, plastic replacements for sustainable uses, etc., that we're working on. So for us, we have a core value of ensuring that we're doing the best thing we can for our plans, and that's fundamental to all of our business.

Increasing Airport Sustainability and Reducing Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Rachel: What is the EIA doing in regards to airport sustainability and what changes can we expect in the next 10 years? 

Myron: The airport has a long history in this space. After safety and security, our job is to create jobs in a fiscally, environmentally, and socially responsible way. Specifically speaking from an environmental perspective, Edmonton was the first airport to have a high-speed natural gas fuel storage station and natural gas buses. Instead of regular diesel buses, we partner with Innovative Fuel Systems and Wescan to put in hybrid fuel, natural gas, and diesel for trucks that bring jet fuel to the airport to help contribute to climate change and local air quality issues.

On behalf of one of my colleagues, we were also able to put in co-generations. We have three co-generation units that make power out of natural gas but also take the heat and heat our building instead of using boilers.

Then, we partner with a company called Alpin Sun, who is building the world's largest solar farm in an airport on our property, which will open in 2024. To give you an idea, it's 627 acres of land and about 340,000 solar panels. It has enough power to heat about 27,000 to 28,000 homes. 

Decarbonizing Airport Operations

Rachel: You touched on decarbonization. Could you expand on what changes you are making to achieving carbon neutral operations? 

Myron: It goes beyond just typical fuel use and aircraft emissions. We're looking at how we operate our business that'll really drive innovation and change. We're one of the first airports in the world to implement, on a regular basis, drones into our operation. We've replaced a regular live Falcon with a robotic Falcon called Ropert, with a great partner here out of Alberta, to drive strike down. So it goes from those sorts of things; wildlife control to a partnership with Air Canada, Drone Delivery Canada, Ziing Final Mile, and Apple Logistics, and actually running drones to do last mile cargo delivery.

That's the precursor to the future, to deliver last mile packages for e-commerce businesses and then eventually deliver them to homes by drone. That reduces and removes vehicles from the road, reduces congestion, helps control air pollution, and replaces something that was running on gas with an electric alternative, not just fuel switching. It's actually looking at how we systemically do business and our partners do business. 

Air Travel Trends & Reaching Global Climate Change Targets 

Rachel: What trends do you see happening in air travel that make a significant impact on reaching global climate targets?

Myron: For the first time in history in the last five years, airlines have started to retire planes before they're ready to be retired, based on fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. So, you've seen a dramatic shift. You see the aircraft having much lower toxic air pollutants and emissions while flying longer ranges. So that's one initiative.

The second one was just announced today. It's called the Canadian Council for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (CSAF) project. It's a consortium across Canada, and EIA is proud to be one of the members of that, and that's actually to drive sustainable aviation fuel.

So you're seeing global trends where places like France are mandating 2% sustainability aviation fuel from biofuels mixed in with regular fuel. Different countries in Europe are doing the same thing. 

You'll start seeing that come across the globe and it's happening now on a smaller scale, but electric and hydrogen aircrafts. Airbus is committed to 2035 Airbus airplanes running on hydrogen and electricity that'll go 2000 miles. That's a game changer. 

So when we look at the aviation industry as a whole, it's racing to decarbonize, and a really systemic change is happening in the industry. That's because of technological innovation. I mean, technology's evolving so fast, engine technology's evolving so fast from great manufacturers like Rolls Royce and General Electric and others that make the engines.

How the Energy Mix is Changing 

Rachel: In your opinion, Myron, how do you think the energy mix will change in the next five years? 

Myron: You'll see the world racing to hydrogen. It's one of the future tools in our toolbox for energy. I think you'll see more renewables enter the market. And we see Alberta as a massive market for renewables already, which people don't realize. You'll see sustainable fuels like aviation fuel and biofuels coming to the market for even vehicles, electrification, and, eventually, not that far away, you'll see hydrogen airplanes.

Learn More About Reducing the Environmental Impacts

With Edmonton’s airport climate change pledge helping reduce their environmental impact, we will hopefully begin seeing a domino effect with other airports as they notice the importance of prioritizing their environmental impact. 

If you're interested in learning more about the importance of reducing environmental impacts from industry leaders actively changing the game in North America, register for the next Global Energy Show today.

An Airport's Environmental Impact - Making Reductions With the Edmonton International Airport

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