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Sustainable aviation biofuels could help airlines transition away from fossil fuels

Aviation biofuels

Public Comments

Proposals to amend the Cruise Memorandum of Understanding are being accepted from the public through December 4, 2017.

Proposed amendments can be submitted on the Washington State Department of Ecology web site

The Port of Seattle and aviation leaders in Washington state   are positioned to nationally lead the effort of making air travel environmentally friendly. Convinced that a lower-carbon fuel source is achievable, the Port of Seattle has now set an ambitious goal for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to become the first American airport to play a market development role by aggregating demand and making aviation biofuel available to all airlines.

Read more about the Port's role in helping make air transportation more sustainable.

Port partners with Alaska Airlines and Boeing to sustainably power every flight at Sea-Tac Airport

 Release of sustainable aviation biofuels infrastructure feasibility study first step toward meeting that goal 

On Jan. 12 the Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines and the Boeing Company announced the release of a Biofuel Infrastructure Feasibility Study that assesses costs and infrastructure necessary to deliver a blend of aviation biofuel and conventional jet fuel to aircraft at Sea-Tac, a crucial step toward routine biofuel use in the future. The partnership announced its intention to launch the study late in 2015. 

The objective of the feasibility study was to identify sites that could support the receipt, blending, storage, and delivery infrastructure required to supply Sea-Tac Airport with up to 50 million gallons per year (and to double to 100 million after 2025) of aviation biofuel. 

As a leader in reducing aircraft-related emissions, Sea-Tac Airport, Alaska Airlines and Boeing set a goal to power every flight fueled at Sea-Tac with sustainable aviation biofuel, which have a lifecycle carbon footprint typically 50 to 80 percent lower than regular jet fuel. Because these biofuels are not produced yet in Washington State, they must be imported by truck, rail, or barge and then be blended with regular petroleum-based jet fuel. Sea-Tac Airport aims to become one of the first airports in the world to offer a reliable supply of aviation biofuels to its passenger and cargo airlines.

Download the study 

What is Aviation Biofuel?​

​What are the benefits of biofuel?

What is aviation biofuel
 Click images above to enlarge 

Port's role in supporting aviation biofuels expanding

Sea-Tac Airport is an industry leader in reducing aircraft-related emissions. The Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines, and the Boeing Company have supported research and development and are charting a path to commercial scale production of biofuels in our region. Earlier this year, a joint Infrastructure Feasibility Study was published (see below). In April we also will publish a Financing Mechanisms Report.
Now, the Port can shift its role to that of market development of biofuel through:
  • Support of fuel integration and infrastructure
  • Help with incremental cost of fuel
  • Assist in incentivization of biofuel production
The Port's expanding effort supports the Port's Century Agenda goal to reduce aircraft-related emissions by 25 percent and to power every flight fueled at Sea-Tac with sustainable aviation biofuel. 

Energy and Greenhouse Gas Assessment

Seeks reduction of GHG, advancement of clean technologies and creation of jobs
The recently completed Energy and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Assessment shows that a number of strategies currently exist to enable the Port to meet its Century Agenda energy and greenhouse gas goals. The assessment indicates that:
1. Conservation strategies will address about 5 to 10 percent of our energy needs and 5 percent of its GHG reduction needs, and
2. Renewable fuel strategies will be needed to meet the remaining reductions necessary, particularly after 2030
The assessment proposes a series of recommendations along with a schedule for the near-term strategies. It continues the Port's strong legacy of energy conservation and emissions reduction. 

Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Fund

Airport Community Ecology fundThe Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Fund, authorized by the Port of Seattle Commission, supports environmental projects and programs in the cities of SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines.

To ensure maximum environmental benefit to communities, the Fund takes a two-pronged approach. The brand new Small Matching Grants Program offers community members of SeaTac, Burien, and Des Moines the chance to apply for Port funding to improve the local environment. Communities will also benefit from the Ecology Fund through the Green Cities Partnership Program with Forterra.

Read more about the Airport Community Ecology Fund here. 

The Port of Seattle aims to be the greenest, most energy efficient port in N. America

 With that goal in mind, the Port Commission authorized more than $45 million in environmental initiatives and projects for 2017:
  •  encouraging more people to use light-rail to get to and from the airport,
  • increasing the number of electric vehicle charging stations at Sea-Tac,
  • offering more sound insulation to neighbors around the airport,
  • protecting water quality through expanded storm water management,
  • creating a $1 million fund to implement the Energy and Sustainability Committee policy directives, and
  • designating another $1 million for community ecological projects in SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines.

The $1 million fund listed in the last bullet point above is intended for the communities of Burien, Des Moines and SeaTac to invest in environmental and ecological projects and programs.


In early 2017, the Port of Seattle will plant about 1,500 native, lower-growing trees, shrubs, and flowers to replace about 600 tall trees that must be removed to avoid interference with aircraft. The new plants will include those indicated in the image to the left.


(Click image to enlarge)

Port to test solar power on net shed roof at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal


Solar panel locations at Fishermen's TerminalSolar power is sparking interest among project managers working to modernize Port facilities. One such project, to replace the roofs on the net sheds at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal, will demonstrate the ability of solar, known as photovoltaic power production, to save electricity and offset carbon emissions. 

Planners estimate that the solar panels on one of the net sheds could produce 11,000 kilowatts of electricity per year, reducing carbon emissions by 279 pounds. The project could be in place by the end of 2017. 

At the same time, engineers are looking at the feasibility of installing solar panels at Pier 69, the Port of Seattle headquarters on the Seattle waterfront, as well as other Port properties. The potential exists to offset carbon emissions by hundreds of thousands of pounds per year, reducing greenhouse gases that lead to climate change.​​​​​

The Green Gateway: Connecting you to the world via Sea-Tac Airport and through global trade

We are the Green Gateway. We offer the lowest carbon footprint for cargo shipped from Asia by sea and transported by rail through the Port of Seattle to the rest of the country.

Just as importantly, the Green Gateway stands for our environmental leadership and award-winning environmental efforts at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Every year we recognize airline, tenant, and business partner environmental stewardship efforts at Sea-Tac Airport and the critical role their accomplishments play in becoming the "Green Gateway." Click here to read about this year's award winners.

We also award cruise and container customers whose environmental programs and initiatives exceed regulatory requirements.​ Read more here.

< View this short video for an overview of our environmental programs at both the Port of Seattle maritime operations and Sea-Tac Airport.

Sea-Tac Airport Progress Reports

We share outcomes with the communities we serve through annual progress reports. The 2014 Progress Report includes five-year results based on the 2009 Environmental Strategy Plan (see right column for all reports and the strategy).

In 2014 we achieved a number of our 2009 goals. For example, we:


  • Reduced water consumption 5 percent below 2008 levels
  • Achieved Best Management Prectices for water quality and treatment over 100 percent of airport industrial services
  • Introduced best management practices to reduce construction waste
  • Partnered with business operators to promote clean taxis and build infrastructure to reduce aircraft-related emissions.
Sea-Tac Airport also made progress in the following areas during 2014 when we:
  • Reduced our green house gases by more than 1,500 tons
  • Fueled our bus fleet with renewable natural gas
  • Increased our recycling rate from 23 percent to 31 percent
  • Increased the numnber of projects seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
  • Increased meal donations from 8,000 pounds to over 26,000 pounds or 500 meals per week

25-year Environmental Goals

Adopted in 2011 by the Port of Seattle Commission, the following policies are aimed at being a leader among U.S. ports for environmental stewardship and energy efficiency:
  • Reduce air pollutant emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels.
  • Lead our industry's greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategies by reducing carbon emissions from all port operations by 50 percent from 2005 levels and reducing aircraft-related GHG emissions at Sea-Tac by 25 percent.
  • Meet future growth in energy usage through conservation and renewable sources.
  • Restore, create, and enhance 40 additional acres of habitat in the Green/Duwamish watershed and Elliott Bay.
  • Prevent sprawl in less developed areas of Puget Sound by anchoring our region's urban industrial land use.
  • Ensure all stormwater leaving port operated facilities meets or exceeds agency requirements and create partnerships that lead our industry in stormwater quality improvements.

Both maritime and aviation programs are guided by our commitment to the 25-year goals. We also seek to model sustainable growth, achieve the greatest environmental benefit from our efforts, partner with other organizations in order to leverage financial and professional resources, to see our sustainable practices as a competitive advantage, and to share our environmental outcomes with the community we serve.