When you imagine a sustainable future for air transportation, what do you see?

December 7, 2023 - Article
That was the question of the day at the University of Waterloo’s Sustainable Aeronautics Summit 2023. In the keynote address by Dr. Suzanne Kearns, the audience was challenged to envision a future of air travel that is vastly more innovative in its approach to sustainability.

As an architect, designer, and aviation enthusiast, our team envisions a training centre that gives back. Sustainability means looking at the entire lifecycle and ensuring that there is a positive contribution in the end. Often, we think about construction, building materials, and utilities when we think about sustainability. Sustainability can also focus on the person and their interaction with the built environment.  

By shifting our thinking to focus on the people who will use and interact with the building, we can think holistically about the experience. Air travel and training experience has changed significantly and continues to evolve rapidly. There is really no way to plan or even envision a future for the air transportation industry that doesn’t involve continual change.  

Training centres amount to merely 3% of the aviation industry’s energy expenditures. Honestly, given these statistics, there isn’t a considerable amount that we, as architects, can do to contribute to global carbon saving relative to the rest of the aviation industry.  

We can invest in the dialogue. We can educate, challenge the status quo, and collaborate with our partners to make whatever positive contributions we can as designers and training leaders. To do that, we need to have a seat at the table.  

By attending and speaking at events like the Sustainable Aeronautics Summit 2023, we are taking that seat.  

Sustainability is about energy, and it’s also about people, society and economics. While infrastructure and building’s overall contribution to reducing energy consumption may be small, our impact on the individual and business model can be considerable, and it all begins with dialogue.

December 7 is International Civil Aviation Day. International Civil Aviation Day was established in 1994 by the International Civil Aviation Organization. (ICAO, n.d.) This day aims to educate on and highlight the importance of civil aviation. 


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Transport Canada. (2022). Canada's Aviation Climate Action Plan: 2022 - 2030. Retrieved from: https://tc.canada.ca/sites/default/files/2022-11/canada-aviation-climate-action-plan-2022-2030.pdf

International Civil Aviation Organization. (n.d.). "International Civil Aviation Day – 7 December," International Civil Aviation Organization. Retrieved from: https://www.icao.int/secretariat/secretarygeneral/aviationday/pages/default.aspx   

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