Most of the world’s airport are wonders of architecture, but they also leave tremendous carbon footprints. This when we add to the magnanimous carbon footprint of air travel, becomes a huge amount. However, things are changing now. We are making the switch to eco-friendly air travel. Even people are doing what they can to make their air journey more sustainable. Architects are coming up with some of the greenest airports in the world. In fact, even some of the existing airports are taking steps in the right direction.
Flying is no doubt one of the most expensive areas of traveling while also being the most impactful on the environment. In a bid to reduce these issues, a number of airports around the world have started taking on several ‘green’ initiatives to make their buildings greener and eco-friendlier. Here are 10 such airports around the world which have gained rave reviews for their sustainable initiatives.
Top 10 Greenest Airports in the World
1. Chicago O’Hare International Airport
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The Chicago O’Hare Airport may be one of the busiest terminals in the world. However, that doesn’t make it any less green than its eco-friendly counterparts. The Department of Aviation recently came together with local organizations to start off several sustainable initiatives within the airport in order to make the space more eco-friendly.
Some of these initiatives include rain water harvesting, recycling waste water, using wind turbines for energy, installing solar panels, planting rooftop gardens, green fleet vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations. However, two standout initiatives happen to be the aeroponic garden called O’Hare Urban Garden and the world’s largest bee apiary with over 1 million bees.
2. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
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The Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has come up with a rather creative way for guests to relax before boarding their flights. The Airport Park is an eco-friendly indoor/outdoor park where guests can relax in a simulated nature setting. The indoor section of the unique space features organic shaped seating options along with a retail shop and a café.
While some of the seats resemble natural logs, others are integrated with real plants for a more natural look. The outdoor section of the park features designer chairs placed strategically beneath large trees that offer plenty of shade. With time, these chairs will also be covered with growing ivy, thus offering a more natural and lush seating option for guests.
3. Galapagos Ecological Airport
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The Galapagos Ecological Airport features a design that lets the airport operate with minimal hindrances to the natural surroundings. The LEED Gold Certified Airport is also officially the first green airport in the world and runs completely on solar and wind power.
Over 80% of the infrastructure has been constructed from recycled materials salvaged from old buildings on the island. The other impressive green features of the airport include a desalination plant that converts local seawater and mechanical shutters that can open and close automatically based on indoor heat and CO2 levels.
4. Denver International Airport
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The Denver International Airport is the largest airport in the United States and the third largest International airport in the world. It is also the busiest airport in the US leading the voting as the best airport in North America. In addition, it is the main hub for the low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines and Great Lakes Airlines. Furthermore, it is the only airport in the United States which have implemented the ISO 14001 certified environment management system.
Denver International Airport is one of the greenest airports in the world thanks to its dependency on natural gas for operation. Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, the LEED Gold Certified airport uses natural gas to heat over 5.5 million square feet of the premises. In addition to this, the natural gas is also used to supply fuel for the airport’s bus and vehicle fleet.
The airport actively uses renewable energy resources and has used innovative ideas to transform the Denver airport into a green one. It has developed the world’s greenest parking lot and has established an on-site composting center. The airport uses solar panels to generate solar electricity and has successfully developed an environment management system to address ecological issues. For computers and monitors the airport uses energy efficient LCD screens.
5. Toronto Pearson International Airport
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Toronto Pearson International Airport is one among the only 10 eco-friendly airports in the world, thanks to its consistent efforts to adopt sustainable initiatives. These initiatives have in fact, helped the airport reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 44,800 tons since 2006. Initiatives include energy conserving light and water fixtures, energy efficient variable speed drives for baggage motor systems, and auxiliary power supply for airplanes in a bid to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
6. San Diego International Airport
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San Diego International Airport holds the distinction of being the first ever LEED Platinum Certified Airport in the world. The airport took on several sustainable initiatives from as far back as 2008, and was one of the first airports to install LED lights on the runways, airfield signs and guard lights. The other sustainable features of the airport include low water fixtures, natural lighting options, solar arrays, drought tolerant landscaping, reflective roofs and green construction materials as well as paint.
7. East Midlands Airport, England
This airport has topped the greenest airports lists on more than one occasion. It boasts of an eco friendly pier that has ground-heating pumps, water recycling stations and water catchers. The management has some ambitious plans too. They will install wind turbines, green transportation and wildlife-walks around the airport. They have also earmarked a site for recycling.
The East Midlands Airport is known as a hub for low fare airlines like Bmibaby and Ryanair. There are holiday flights to Dominican Republic, Orlando and Cancun.These are operated by First Choice Airways. It is to be noted that East Midlands is the 2nd largest cargo airport in UK after Heathrow in London. The airport is also used by UPS and TNT, the renowned logistics companies.
8. Munich Airport, Germany
Munich Airport is the hub for Lufthansa and other airlines of Star Alliance. It is the 7th busiest airport in Europe and 12th busiest in the world. In 2010, it won the award for the Best Airport in Europe. The major facilities of the airport are located between the two runways. The western part houses the cargo and maintenance section. Moreover, the airport has drawn up big plans to be carbon neutral by 2020. In addition, there is a plan in place for sustainable construction which will help to reduce carbon emission by 40 percent. The airport has already installed energy saving lighting and has supported green landscaping.
9. Zurich Airport, Switzerland
One of the greenest airports in Europe, Zurich Airport is located in the canton of Zurich, Switzerland. It is the hub of Swiss International Airlines. The airport has been given a 4 star status by Skytrax. The airport handles 22.9 million passengers every year. This is a green airport and the most notable feature is the nature conservation zone that is sandwiched between two runways. Moreover, a number of steps have been taken by the authorities to make this airport green like use of solar cells, geothermal energy for heating and cooling. Furthermore, the use of rainwater to flush airport toilets and a compressed natural gas station that has been built on the site. It also has a technology to collect solar energy whenever possible.
10. Logan International Airport, Massachusetts
The Logan International Airport in Boston is the 19th busiest airport in the United States. It is the hub for Cape Air, a regional airline. It has no flights to Asia but Japan Airlines plans to start one next year. Since it is one of the twenty busiest airports in the world, it has a moral responsibility to reduce carbon waste. So far, it has not shirked its responsibility and has succeeded in reducing carbon emissions to a large extent.The airport is the first in the world to use runway materials which are environment friendly. The plumbing and irrigation systems are water efficient. Furthermore, the building has been constructed by use of recycled local materials. In addition, the staff of this airport come to work by availing the public transport.
These greenest airports around the world have started adopting various sustainable initiatives. It would help to offer a greener space for travelers. These airports have set the standards for green traveling, and stand out from the rest of their counterparts when it comes to being the most eco-friendly airports on earth.