Staff engagement helps Bristol Airport’s environmental initiatives take off

Published on in Planning and Resilience by Melanie King, Environment Manager Bristol Airport.

Bristol Airport is committed to controlling the adverse effects of its operations and minimising the impact on the environment and the local community, whilst seeking to maximise the positive benefits from continued growth of the airport. Key to this commitment is engaging with people across the site on environmental issues.

Bristol Airport staff out and about doing local volunteer litter picking Courtesy of Bristol Airport

“The lunchtime litter pick on Felton Common was great- fresh air, exercise and a chance to give something back to our local community”

Laura Mitchell, Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator at Bristol Airport (originally from Felton), Bristol Airport

Airlines are a key partner for the airport, and quarterly forums are held with the lead pilot for an airline who passes on information to the other pilots, with the aim of reducing the environmental impacts of operations. The forums include exchanging ideas and information on more efficient operating techniques and discussing industry best practice. The best ideas come from those directly involved – the pilots, the engineers, the shop managers, so discussion is good! League tables are provided on airline environmental performance with a prize for the best performer at the end of each year.

On the airfield and in the terminal, the airport collaborates with the onsite companies through monthly meetings and issues specific procedures and instructions to managers. In all these meetings environment is only one of the subjects covered (others being operations, developments, health and safety etc). There is good attendance as it is an information exchange process – people hear about things that may affect them and it’s a chance to share ideas.To resolve issues Environmental Audits are undertaken to ensure compliance, as part of Bristol Airport’s Environmental Management System (EMS).

But to really engage day-to-day with all staff, it was felt that a quick reference guide was needed- a ‘one-stop shop’ on what needs to be done, why and how. As a result, last summer the Airport launched an interactive staff environment guide. The guide is purely electronic, which saves on printing, and accessible to all via the staff intranet. As well as an overview on the key impacts: waste, water, air quality, noise, energy, nature conservation and sustainable transport, it also acts as a signpost to more detailed guidance and procedures

Bristol Airport's interactive staff environment guide Courtesy of Bristol Aiport

Top tips on staff engagement

  1. One size does not fit all. Try a variety of ways of communicating information- presentations, forums, emails, posters.
  2. No need to reinvent the wheel. If a forum already exists for other issues, say health and safety or customer service, then see if you can add a slot for environmental issues while you already have everyone in the same room.
  3. Know your audience. Think about who needs to know what. For instance, managers will need to know the detail, the procedures, the rules. Staff will need the headlines that apply to their role. Some things you’ll want to broadcast to everyone.
  4. Give people a chance to make a difference. Running environmental volunteering events for staff means people feel truly involved. It needn’t be complicated. A recent lunchtime litter pick by airport staff on the nearby common received some great feedback from those involved.