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Denver International Airport, Among the Greenest in the U.S.

Denver International Airport, the largest airport in The United States, also just so happens to be one of the greenest in the nation as well. According to this article from Urbanful, DIA, ranks as one of the top six greenest airports in the entire country! Check out this article and see what makes DIA, so green.

Inside America’s greenest airports

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The Nickel Tour: These are the most innovative and environmentally friendly airports around the U.S.

Not only is flying usually the most expensive part of traveling, it also has the highest impact on the environment. Airports themselves have been stepping up their eco-game by instituting sustainable initiatives from green building practices and energy reduction programs, to better waste management, recycling, and resource conservation. Check out what some of our “greener” airports have been up to.

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San Diego International Airport (SNA) is now home to the world’s first LEEDPlatinum (the highest environmental certification possible) certified commercial airport terminal.

San Diego was the first US airport to adopt a formal sustainability policy back in 2008. In 2012, the oceanside airport, became the first in the U.S. to install LEDs on its runways, guard lights, and airfield signs.

Sustainable features include a 3.3-megawatt solar array, low-flow water fixtures that save the airport approximately 4 million gallons of water annually, drought-tolerant landscaping, energy-efficient and natural lighting (daylight-harvesting lights automatically turn down when natural light is brighter), reflective roofs, and non-toxic interior construction materials and paints.

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Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) focuses sustainable efforts on conservation. The airport has 307 acres of sand dunes voluntarily set aside as a nature preserve. Native plants and animals, including the delicate El Segundo Blue Butterfly (among the first insects put on the federal endangered species list back in 1976), are thriving again as part of this restoration project. LAX created this habitat, the largest remaining coastal dune area in Southern California, with a goal of preserving the coastal buckwheat plant, which is the only source of food for the El Segundo Blue Butterfly.

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Indianapolis International Airport (IND) is the granddaddy of green airports. In 2011, IND was the first airport in the U.S. to win LEED® certification for an entire terminal campus. Now, the airport is home to the largest airport-based solar farm on the planet. It is able to supply enough energy to power 3,200 homes. When fully completed by the end of the year, the IND solar farm will encompass more than 150 acres, with more than 76,000 solar panels, and generate more than 31 million kilowatt hours.

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Not only does Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) have a wetlands restoration program, electric vehicle charging stations, green fleet vehicles, and anaeroponic garden for use by its restaurants, it now has the first major on-airport apiary (bee yard) in the U.S.

In 2011, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) installed an apiary of 28 beehives at O’Hare, and this year it expanded to 75. With more than 1 million bees, it’s the largest apiary at any airport in the world. In the first year, the ORD bees produced 1,200 pounds of honey which is sold at the O’Hare farmer’s market in Terminal 3 and at retailers like Whole Foods. The work is done in partnership with an employment program offering valuable job experience to ex-offenders and disadvantaged people.

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As one of the nation’s newest airports, Denver International Airport (DIA) was built with sustainability in mind. DIA uses natural day-lighting, a comprehensive deicing fluid collection and recycling system, pre-conditioned air supplied to aircraft parked at gates to reduce emissions, and a hydrant system for fuel deliveries to reduce the potential for spills and excessive fuel truck traffic. Denver Airport’s fourth solar array is now online, bringing the airport’s total solar generating capacity to 10 megawatts, or 16 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. That’s enough electricity to power about 2,600 typical Denver-area homes each year.

And now the airport is partnering with one of its newest restaurants, Root Down, to pilot the airport’s first commercial composting program in the concourse area. The restaurant will collect all of its organic and compostable materials which will be collected daily and taken to an off-site facility. Their hope is to get additional tenants to embrace this and other programs to reduce their overall environmental impact.

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We’d be remiss to leave San Francisco International Airport  (SFO) off the list. Unsurprisingly, they have a LEED Gold certified terminal, a greenhouse gas emissions reduction program, solar panels, are increasing their use of clean fuels or electric vehicles, planted 2,020 trees of over 15 different species, resulting in an estimated 121 metric tons of carbon sequestration per year, and have one of the largest recycling and composting programs in the county in which 75% of the solid waste is getting recycled.

But they also have goats.

Every year hundreds of goats are used to graze on brush as part of the airport’s unique —and environmentally friendly—approach to fire prevention. The airport owns 180-acres of undeveloped, protected land which is home to two endangered species—the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog. Since machines can’t be used, goats spend two weeks each spring munching away a firebreak on the west side of the airport to protect nearby homes from potential fires.

Images courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

The Rise of the Green Cleaning Industry

Over the past few decades, the green cleaning industry has gone from niche to mainstream. What can be the cause for this shift? There are many reasons for the growth of the green cleaning industry, the most important of which is that people are being informed. Informed about what chemicals are in the cleaning products which are used in their homes and at their place of work. They are also being informed of the potential dangers some of those chemicals can cause. Needless to say, the great majority of people want what is best for their family, the environment, and themselves.

With the demand for a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional cleaners, green cleaning companies and green cleaning products have been on the rise. In fact, sales of eco-cleaners went from $303 million in 2007 to $640 million in 2011, according to Packaged Facts. That is more than double the sales in just four years. In just about every major supermarket, you can find green cleaning products filling the shelves right next to the traditional cleaners. This was not always the case. For a long time, many green cleaning materials either had to be purchased online or in specialty stores. Luckily, it appears those days are over.

The cost and effectiveness of green cleaners is a common concern with people making the shift from traditional cleaners. The truth is, traditional and green cleaners are actually very similar in cost and effectiveness. For example, according to the raycompgroup, a price comparison of items on Staples.com, shows that the average all-purpose traditional cleaner costs an average of 15 cents per ounce, while the green all-purpose cleaners cost 14 cents per ounce. So, in this case the green alternative was actually more cost efficient. As for the effectiveness of green cleaners compared to traditional, the best way to decide is to put it to the test yourself. However, be aware that certain products that may market themselves as green, may in fact still contain harmful chemicals, so make sure you read the ingredients label.

As for the growth of green cleaning companies, this can be attributed to a couple of factors. For one, many families have multiple parents who have full-time jobs, and therefore don’t have the time to maintain a clean home without the assistance of a cleaning service. Many parents are also aware of the damage chemicals from cleaning products can cause, especially to children. Therefore, when considering hiring a cleaning service, the type of cleaning products used are becoming more and more important. Another contributing factor is that many businesses and office buildings are now turning to green cleaning services as well. According to Go Green, recent studies have shown that office buildings which have “gone green”, “have measurable financial gains due to employee health, productivity, and retention as well as lower operating costs and certain government incentives.”

These are a few reasons for the growth of the green cleaning industry. An industry which will continue to grow hand in hand with the informed consumer.