LEED Platinum Award is the highest possible environmental certification and San Diego International Airport (IATA code: SAN) will be the first in the world to receive this award. This is because the airport has a new terminal that is completely green and energy-efficient.
The airport authorities have embarked on a Green Build project, worth $907 million. It had installed 10 additional gates with parking at the expanded Terminal 2 West, natural or energy-efficient lighting, 3.3-megawatt solar array, reflective roofs, low-flow water fixtures and landscaping that is drought-tolerant. It also used paints and interior construction materials that are non-toxic and installed better storm drainage management system.
All this resulted in the airport reducing its environmental footprint when the construction was ongoing, but the new terminal will also surpass the standard code by 32% in energy efficiency.
San Diego International Airport has been working to reduce its energy costs over the years. It was the first U.S. commercial airport to install LEDs on its runways, airfield signs and guard lights in 2012, which reduced its electricity costs by $27,000 each month. It was also the first U.S. airport to publish an annual sustainability report in 2012. This was based on the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative, which the airport adopted in 2008. In February 2014, the airport signed the Climate Declaration. Again, it was the first airport to do so.
Recently the SAN operators have struck a 20-year deal with Borrego Solar Systems to fund and install the solar panels that would provide solar power to the airport’s two terminal buildings. This will mean savings of about $3 million to $8 million on power costs to the airport during the contract’s duration. The solar panels will be constructed over the terminals and the short-term parking area close to the terminals.
Borrego Solar will finance and build the solar system and sell the energy that this creates to the airport at a much-reduced cost than what local utility will charge. The power purchase agreement (PPA) is deemed a win-win for both the San Diego International Airport Authority and Borrego Solar Systems. The system is expected to save about 10-13% of their energy costs over the 20-year contract period. Borrego Solar is based in San Diego and specializes in producing solar project for commercial use as well as financing. The solar project is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority President and CEO Thella F. Bowens see this solar project as a visible and noteworthy proof of their ongoing sustainability commitment. They will also be updating the central plant and the older terminal to be at par with the new environment-friendly facilities through their participation in the San Diego Gas & Electric’s Retrocommissioning (RCx) program. The airport authorities have purchased 14 electric vehicles and installed 20 EV chargers. There are also shuttles and hybrid taxis that use biodiesel blends already operating at the airport.