By Halie Colbourne, BCCI Sustainability Associate & Matthew Koester, BCCI Sustainability Coordinator
This year, GreenerBuilder honored the San Francisco Airport with two breakout sessions. Erin Cooke, Sustainability Director of SFO, took the reins in introducing the San Francisco Airport Terminal One Redevelopment Program, comprehensive Zero Waste Plan and SFO Climate Action Plan. SFO’s sustainability journey began years ago with a shift toward resilience thinking – conceptualizing the airport as a dynamic system in relation to Bay Area communities, as well reducing enormous operating costs (SFO consumes more energy than the cities of South San Francisco, Millbrae and Burlingame combined!). The design team resolved to “measure what you can,” using energy and water submeters, utility and fuel purchasing data to identify the “pressure points,” or most cost effective energy, water, waste and emission reduction measures according to scale. Guided by their data, the team is confident that they will achieve zero carbon emissions, zero solid waste generation, and zero net energy consumption across the campus by 2021.
The Terminal One team is comprised of two consulting firms, Bernheim & Dean and Urban Fabrick, an engineering firm, ARUP, and two architecture firms, Gensler and HKS. All materials in the new terminal are Red List compliant, lacking carcinogenic chemicals still not banned by law. In terms of energy and air quality, the facility is converting all diesel-powered vehicles to electric, and installing solar arrays, photocatalytic oxidation and carbon air filters, energy producing elevators and underfloor air distribution. By 2025, the facility will operate a heat recovery chiller and energy management control system to not only reduce energy consumption by an additional 25 percent, but comprehensively measure and understand consumption to reach their Zero Net Energy goal by 2021.
Perhaps most exciting is the grander implication of SFO’s ambitious Triple Zero goal and Terminal One program. Cooke’s team is working with airline partners and other international airports to promote bold sustainability goals for airports across the country. Thinking in terms of scale, if SFO consumes as much energy as three small Bay Area cities, mega airports like Los Angeles, O’Hare and Dallas Fort Worth must represent an even more staggering share of energy consumption. We are already seeing others taking action. Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport will reduce its 2005 air pollutant levels 50 percent by 2037. The Port Authority of New Jersey & New York, which operates JFK, Newark Liberty, LaGuardia, Stewart and Teterboro airports, has committed to an 80 percent reduction in all greenhouse gas emissions related to facilities by 2050.The aviation industry is beginning to collaborate on these issues, sharing best practices through the Airport Cooperative Research Program, Sustainable Aviation Guidance Alliance and Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Sustainable Master Plan Pilot Program. Cooke also mentioned that airlines are integrating cleaner fuels for their planes, stating these alternatives produce 80 percent less emissions than conventional fuels. We hope that these efforts will speed the process by which the building industry integrates into the green economy.