Green Building Goes to the Airport

It seems to me that airports are thought of mostly as in-between places.  Those who don’t work there go to the airport merely as a means to an end, to get from one city to another, or to meet someone who is.  Time spent there is mostly about waiting, which perhaps makes us forget something important.

Airports are on all of the time.

They have massive, around the clock requirements for light, ventilation, heat, and the power demanded to keep all of the technology moving, from air traffic control instruments to the hand dryers in the restrooms.  Airports are major drawers of power, and on a scale that is pretty large comparative to many other buildings, or series of buildings.


As recent studies on airport energy efficiency have revealed, looking at how airports are managed with respect to power requirements and efficient usage alone is a significant area of interest. But, there are many examples of airports that have become models for green technologies.

An airport that is looking into the implementation of green technology is Witchita Airport, which has begun to consider green building and alternate energy solutions in order to cut energy costs.  Because of the winds in the area, incorporated wind turbines is yet another example of design being true to the natural environment, utilizing a natural occurrence to produce energy.  Both solar panels and wind turbines have been discussed as a means of cutting down on inefficient energy use and the ballooning costs associated with it.

Yet, even outside of the passive design aspect, other airports have embraced green design to create greater energy efficiency and sustainability.  Denver airport is an example, having already implemented solar technology. Logan airport in Boston has been distinguished through the use of green building materials recycled from former buildings on the site, with an agenda of better air quality also in place.

Organizations like the Clean Airport Partnership seek to address the issues of energy efficiency and environmental concerns that are relevant to airports in the United States.   The work that the organization focuses on is documenting areas of improvement to energy efficiency, identifying opportunities of further improvements to lessening carbon footprints of airports, and managing the relationships between implementation and the newest innovations in sustainable technology. The organization has advised airports directly as well as airlines, fuel suppliers, power authorities, and other associated organizations that participate in the daily life of the American airport.

Like many areas in green building, the issues that are faced at the airport are unique, and solutions are continuing to evolve.  Yet, progress is being made that has convinced officials and independent decision-makers to consider green building, sustainable technology, and greater energy efficiency to be both ambitious and attainable at the same time.  And this is not to mention how much will be saved in energy costs to the airports, and (hopefully) to the travelers who use them.



Logan Airport image courtesy of Alan Miles

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