How Green Is Your Local Airport?

Wired magazine’s Autopia blog discusses the ways that airports are trying to reduce their giant carbon footprints.

“There are some standouts: the new Terminal A at Boston Logan, with heat-reflecting roof and windows, low-flow faucets, waterless urinals, self-dimming lights and storm water filtration, is the nation’s first terminal to be a certified green building.

Kris Russel, the Senior Environmentalist at Dallas Fort Worth International, points out that while green certification is an admirable goal there are less extensive but highly effective ways to make airports greener. Beyond reworking its lighting and HVAC systems, DFW’s central plant uses electric chillers and a thermal energy storage tank. Airport buses now burn compressed natural gas obtained from an on-site CNG station. John F. Kennedy Airport in New York has eliminated 90 percent of its chemical de-icers in favor of infrared technology that melts snow and ice off planes.

Airports also are partnering with airlines to green up their operations. Continental, for example, is working with George Bush Interncontinental Airport in Houston to adopt electric ground equipment like airplane tugs. The airline says it will cut emissions by such equipment as much as 75 percent.

Other solutions are surprisingly low-tech. By consolidating rental car operations in a single facility, DFW was able to cut the size of its shuttle fleet in half. LED signs in the parking garages direct people to open spots, reducing the time they spend circling the lot. Airports like JFK and Dallas are taking the lead. Others will follow eventually, and it’s then that real progress will be seen.”