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Polly Sattler Talks Sustainability at the World’s Busiest Airport at Impact Series

Polly Sattler, senior sustainability and resilience planner at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, presented a discussion at ILE's weekly Impact Speaker Series.
Polly Sattler is senior sustainability and resilience planner at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Polly Sattler is senior sustainability and resilience planner at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“How do we help them build these [environmental] processes into what they’re already doing?” asked Polly Sattler at the Scheller College of Business Impact Speaker Series.

Having originally planned a career in hospitality, Sattler entered a master’s degree program in environmental and resource policy at George Washington University to begin a career in sustainability. She worked for a number organizations and on special projects, including reducing waste at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and coordinating the Sustainable Business Day at the Georgia State Capitol. But, some of her biggest challenges – and contributions – awaited her in advocating for resiliency at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“We’re the busiest airport by number of passengers,” she said, before sharing some of Hartsfield’s impressive numbers: 868,000 annual flights and 260,000 daily passengers – all on just 4,700 acres. As senior sustainability and resilience planner at Hartsfield-Jackson, Sattler is responsible for mitigating the environmental impact of these activities through sustainability projects. She shared about increasing carpooling and public transportation use for its 60,000 airport employees, which reduces the financial burden on low-income employees as well as airport greenhouse gas emissions. She also shared efforts to convert more airport vehicles to EV and increase the accessibility of EV charging stations at the airport.

But perhaps her most passionate project is “Finding the Flint,” an awareness project for the Flint River, which begins two miles north of Hartsfield, runs through the airport grounds and over 200 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. Sattler is creating plans for utilizing the river for natural parks and trails around Hartsfield, beautifying the area, creating green architecture for storm water, and creating more protection for the river’s future health.

Organized by the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ILE)at Scheller College of Business, Impact is a weekly series that brings successful leaders from the corporate and nonprofit sectors, as well as innovative entrepreneurs, to campus for an authentic discourse with students and staff.

Events for the series take place every Wednesday at Scheller College in room 200, at 4:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted. The series is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.

Watch past recordings on the ILE YouTube channel.

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