BENEFIT OF PROACTIVITY
Hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars are spent throughout the normal master plan process to gather intricate detail of passenger loads now and into the future, the number of people living within the airport’s service radius, airfield demand and more. In a master plan, taking much more than a cursory glance at utilities and electrical load is important in making the most of the massive capital spend already being allotted for terminal and other campus upgrades.
While it’s acceptable for a utility master plan to lag slightly — waiting to account for the burdens and loads brought on by new facilities and changing passenger capacities — it must go hand in hand with the master plan to prepare for any large changes to the system. The unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 make future growth plans for some airports less certain, but no matter the case, airports should always prepare to right-size utility infrastructure for the future.
Developing a utility master plan as part of a master plan increases proactivity and offers a wide range of benefits:
OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE COST SAVINGS
In some situations, utility infrastructure is made up of assets that were designed to meet old standards or have gone beyond their service life and need replacement. These assets not only cost more to operate but tend to be wasteful from an energy perspective. Utility master plans examine these assets from a modern perspective, then develop recommendations to effectively support new loads and save on operations and maintenance costs.
Many airports have specific energy efficiency goals influenced by location, environmental regulations and ownership. A utility master plan can take these goals into consideration and then develop recommendations that are designed to meet or exceed those requirements while still effectively addressing changing needs.
IDENTIFYING AND MITIGATING RISK
Perhaps more impactful than anything, a utility master plan offers an airport a definitive date for when its level of risk will increase. Sensitivity analyses project the future impact of variability of parameters and determine how those parameters will impact the results and recommendations of the utility master plan. The resulting data — alongside future goals, life cycle cost, carbon reduction and more — support an understanding of available solutions, bringing the most cost-effective option to light.