Meeting Sustainability Goals with Innovative Financing Models

By Ramsey Nuwar, Johnson Controls

Airports across North America and on a global scale have committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but securing the funding to achieve that goal can feel daunting to airport leaders and stakeholders with competing priorities capturing their attention and resources. Through conversations with leaders at airports of varying sizes, I’ve come to realize that the funding options available for sustainable infrastructure upgrades are not common knowledge.

As airports work to get their budgets back up to speed following a major drop in air travel in 2020 and as they brace for a potential economic recession, many facilities don’t have the financial capabilities to fund large-scale projects completely out of pocket. Ironically, it’s these projects that improve airport efficiency, comfortability, safety and sustainability that will attract more travelers in the long run.

Working with a trusted partner for guidance and expertise can help decisionmakers understand their options and their eligibility for non-traditional funding mechanisms, how best to leverage available funding options and how to attain the best possible return on investment.

Project funding can come in many shapes and forms and can be catered to each airport’s unique needs. Some options include:

  • Performance contracting: Under a performance contract, guaranteed energy savings are used to fund infrastructure improvement projects over a set period of time.
  • A transfer of project ownership: This would allow an airport to transfer ownership and the associated risks of their energy management program to a partner’s team of experts.
  • Private-public partnership (P3): P3 agreements allow publicly funded organizations to collaborate with a partner to maintain a fixed cost of occupancy throughout the contract.
  • Contingent payment program: Under a contingent payment program, the partner would take on the risk of financing infrastructure projects. Upon completion, airports can make scheduled quarterly payments over a set term to maintain a flatlined budget.

With aging infrastructure, comes higher greenhouse gas emissions and greater environmental impacts. Through retrofitting projects with a trusted partner on board, airports are able to assess where their immediate needs are through an intake on the state of their heating, cooling, lighting systems and beyond and address the most urgent updates first for the greatest impact and return on investment.

The Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport in Rome for example, is on track to meet their 2030 decarbonization goals with the help of Johnson Controls guidance and solutions. Through this partnership, the airport has achieved a 52% reduction in energy consumption. Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport was also the first airport in Europe to receive its ISO 50001:2018 energy management certification and reach the highest level of Airport Carbon Accreditation, Level 4+ ‘Transition’.

As we all know, inflation isn’t slowing down and the price of materials will continue to rise. Don’t cut your project short or wait until you’ve generated enough capital to fully fund projects outright, consider all of the funding opportunities available to meet set sustainability goals and create a healthier space for your travelers, employees and community to enjoy for years to come.

To learn more about Johnson Controls transportation offerings, contact Ramsey Nuwar at, or visit


Director of Johnson Controls Transportation Market, Ramsey Nuwar has spent the last 15 years focused on North American airports, providing leading edge building technology, passenger solutions and support systems.





This article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.