With their distinctive smell of Cinnabons, not to mention the packaging wasted on airline meals (when you can get them), and their overflowing parking lots, you might well assume that airports are the least environmentally-conscious places imaginable.
Actually, no. To date, 64 European airports have signed up to the Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme, a carbon management certification standard for airports, and they account for more than half of Europe’s air passenger traffic (780 million passengers annually.) The program assesses and recognizes the efforts of airports to manage and reduce their carbon emissions with four levels of award: ‘Mapping’, ‘Reduction’, ‘Optimization’ and ‘Neutrality’.
Of course, some green efforts have been around for years. Many airports feature compressed natural gas fueling stations, glass walls for more natural light, lower-wattage bulbs, and recycled building materials.
But the Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme is taking on much bigger challenges. Created in 2009, the organization seeks to reduce emissions from ground transport, boost the use of renewable energy and increase the energy efficiency of airport terminals. Those 64 airports include Frankfurt, Londonís Heathrow and Parisí Charles de Gaulle, some of Europe’s busiest hubs.
Moving beyond Europe, the Scheme has grown to cover Asia and the Middle East, where six airports have signed up, including Mumbai, Abu Dhabi and Singaporeís Changi airports. And plenty of airports in the U.S. †are moving in the same direction.
From the BBC:
Boston’s Logan airport, for example, has been using 20 roof-mounted wind turbines on the airportís administration centre to generate electricity for the building since 2008. This amounts to roughly 2% of the office complex’s monthly power consumption. Copenhagenís Kastrup Airport began installing energy-efficient heat exchangers in 2010 to manage terminal temperatures, and Denver International Airport has access to an eight megawatt solar array system, one of the largest airport systems in the US, which †has been providing 6% of the airport’s electricity since July 2011.
In the case of Denver’s International Airport (pictured above), there are 9,200 panels, each equipped with sensors and measuring 3 feet by 5 feet, which generate about 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year.
Many of the results of these measures have been outstanding. The electricity generated at Denver, for example, is equivalent to half the energy needed to run the airport’s people-mover system. The BBC reports that with its energy-saving measures, Helsinki airport has succeeded in cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 2,500 tons compared to 2011. And the list goes on.
Again, from the BBC:
Athens, Greece has one of the largest airport solar power plants in the world, supplying 8.05 megawatts of electricity to the terminals, with this source of renewable energy accounting for 10% of the airport communityís needs, from lighting to heating. This has resulted in an estimated cost savings of one million euros over the last six years.
It’s not easy being green, and these may all seem like baby steps, but it’s important that airports around the world are doing more to become eco-friendly.
What do you think?
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