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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.