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Green is the New Black: Eco-Friendly Airports

Green is the New Black: Eco-Friendly Airports

If you want to keep your travels on a low carbon diet, check out your airport’s eco-statistics.

Sure, snap up a slew of carbon offsets before you fly, but did you ever think that simply choosing a different airport might help make an environmental statement? Airports are no exception when it comes to the greening of the travel industry. While environmentalists point fingers at contrails striping the skies, some airports soar above all others with impressive eco efforts at ground level.

Boston Logan was the first airport to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Terminal A won the designation for its use of sustainable design elements, such as alternative transportation options, priority curb locations for high-occupancy vehicles, storm water filtration, mechanisms to reduce water use, day lighting for energy efficiency, use of sustainable materials, and measures to enhance indoor air quality.

These efforts have led to 12 percent energy savings, or almost $300,000, annually for the airport, and 36 percent water savings, or 1.7 million gallons per year. Logan even established its own fleet of six-foot wind turbines to catch the winds blowing through Boston Harbor. They are estimated to provide about 100,000 kilowatt-hours of energy each year.

Others that rise above and beyond the minimum requirements of domestic airports include Denver, with an impressive 9,200 solar systems that will generate three million kilowatt-hours of energy annually, and Fresno Yosemite, which installed 11,700 solar panels in July 2008. Fresno?s panels provide up to 40 percent of daily electrical needs. Denver also started a composting trial for biodegradable wastes and, in 2007, gathered over 100,000 pounds of cooking oil, reusable in bio-diesel fuel and pet food manufacturing. A concoction of melted snow and 70 percent of the airport?s de-icing fluid became antifreeze.

Yet more creative environmental thinking is on display at Seattle?s SeaTac. The airport requires all its concessions? coffee grounds to be recycled and composted. The airport has also installed garbage and recycling compactors -- and will charge concessions for trash removal, but not for recycled waste.

Dallas Fort Worth has won admirers for its commitments to cleaner air, lower emissions, and increased energy efficiency. An airport-wide policy aims to encourage airlines to cut down on fuel use and emissions. Carpooling and public transport are being promoted and altered traffic flow is being designed to make environmental efforts more efficient.

Another one with an eco-eye on traffic patterns, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood transitioned all 57 airport shuttles and trams over to low-emission bio-diesel by early 2006, saving up to 150,000 gallons of fossil fuel annually.

So, when there?s a choice of departure point or destination, keep your travels on a low carbon diet and count your airports? eco-statistics.

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