By Andrew Littlefair on

The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is the third-busiest in Texas and last year broke its own record of serving nearly 17.4 million passengers. As the second fastest growing airport in the country, expansion plans are underway for added terminals and gates, a new runway and other major improvements.

Along with the continuing growth is the never-ending quest for maximum airport sustainability. Every year more airports are transitioning to alternative fuels for its on- and off-road vehicles, including passenger and employee buses and shuttle vehicles.

Their primary goal: to achieve maximum efficiency by controlling emissions while reducing fuel and maintenance costs.

Following the national trend to meet that goal is AUS, which has partnered with The City of Austin, the Airports Council International, and Clean Energy Fuels Corp., the leading provider of renewable natural gas (RNG) for transportation in North America. 

In an effort to further reduce its carbon footprint and improve its overall sustainability program, AUS has recently switched to Clean Energy’s Redeem™, the first commercially available RNG vehicle fuel, derived from capturing biogenic methane that is produced from the decomposition of organic waste from dairies, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants. Switching to Redeem will reduce the airport’s overall carbon footprint by an estimated 20 percent.

“We continue to look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. The best way to do this is to have the biggest toolbox possible. The switch over to RNG was very easy and is a massive tool to help us reach our goal,” said BJ Carpenter, director of sustainability for the airport. “It’s hard to make an impact of this magnitude with one tool. The only thing we can compare this to was switching over to green wind energy back in 2012.”

“Natural gas vehicles at Austin-Bergstrom Airport are not something new,” states Carpenter. “We’ve had natural gas vehicles since the airport opened in 1999. Historically, half of our shuttle bus fleet has been fueled by propane and the other half by natural gas supplied by Clean Energy. We maintain two fuel options in case we have a fuel supply problem.”

“The benefits of fueling airport transportation vehicles with natural gas are clear – lower fuel costs compared to diesel, improved public health and air quality, reduced environmental impact from greenhouse gas, and increased U.S. energy independence,” he said.

According to Carpenter, the airport is following the model of more than 40 airports across the country, including its fellow Texas airport, Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW), where Clean Energy also supplies RNG and manages the onsite public CNG fueling station.

In addition to helping AUS reduce its carbon footprint by approximately 20 percent at no extra cost to the airport, Clean Energy also has been instrumental in the airport’s ability to reach the highest levels of accreditation from the Airports Council International’s airport carbon accreditation program, Carpenter added.

“Switching to vehicles fueled with RNG supports Austin-Bergstrom Airport’s commitment to sustainable and responsible transportation, and we’re proud to be part of this initiative,” said Chad Lindholm, vice president, Clean Energy. “This is a prime example of an airport taking action to lessen the environmental impact of its shuttle fleet.”