AIRPORTS are not famous for their positive effect on the environment. However, architects and engineers are working together to create greener airports in order to reduce the aviation industry’s considerable impact on the environment. Here are six of the most progressive, green-thinking airports in the world:
This airport in Colorado’s capital city is the third-largest airport in the world and boasts the largest solar power farm at any commercial airport in the US. Four enormous on-site solar arrays generate enough electricity to power 2,500 homes. Denver isn’t short of sunshine either – the city averages 3,100 hours of sunshine per year, so it’s a masterful way of channelling natural forces into green energy.
Other environmental management moves have given Denver a solid sustainability reputation. In 2015 it diverted more than 2,100 tonnes of municipal solid waste from landfills and also composts 200 tonnes of organic waste annually. Travellers can also benefit from water refill stations scattered around its terminals.
Passengers per year (pre-pandemic): 70 million
All stops need to be pulled out when protecting the incredible biodiversity on the Galapagos Islands, and the Galapagos Ecological Airport built in 2012 is a good place to start. It’s powered entirely by renewable energy, with 65 per cent supplied by windmills and 35 per cent coming from solar panels fitted on walkways.
80 per cent of the airport’s structure was built using recycled materials, and furniture was produced from environmentally friendly sources. Taking its green-thinking to staggering new heights, the Galapagos Ecological Airport is also a desalination plant, purifying seawater for use in its terminal.
Passengers per year (pre-pandemic): 30,000
Walking through Changi Airport in Singapore is a good enough reason alone to visit the sovereign island city-state. Famous for its unrivalled passenger experience, Changi is frequently voted World’s Best Airport and is covered in green plant life. Terminal 4 features a green wall that has 20,000 plants species growing on it, while energy-efficient motion sensors and lighting, water-efficient fittings, and solar panels on the roof put it high on the list of the world’s most sustainable airports.
Passengers per year (pre-pandemic): 68.3 million
In 2009 this airport in Sweden’s capital became the first European airport to achieve carbon neutrality. It is also the only airport in the world whose environmental permit features a carbon dioxide emission cap – every operation is closely monitored for pollution levels and cannot surpass the level that was set in 1990.
To adhere to these strict guidelines, Stockholm Arlanda uses a special biofuel to heat its terminals, hangers, and airfield. An underground aquifer is tapped into to provide water for the airport, and low-power LED lights are used throughout. These measures resulted in a reduction of energy consumption of one third between 2005 and 2012.
Passengers per year (pre-pandemic): 25.6 million
Forward-thinking practices at Zurich Airport such as solar panels on the roves of aircraft docks and car parks, and using rainwater for the toilets, have led to a 30 per cent cut in its carbon emissions since 1991. Zurich has ambitiously planned to take that number even further by 2030, with its detailed plans to reduce noise emissions heavily praised.
Passengers per year (pre-pandemic): 31.5 million
Rotterdam The Hague was recently certified as a Level 4+ under the Airport Carbon Accreditation program of the Airports Council International, which only four other airports have. Rotterdam’s plans align with what was laid out in the Paris Agreement, and they are planning to build a huge solar farm to power the terminal which will harness enough electricity to power 5,100 homes.
Country: The Netherlands
Passengers per year (pre-pandemic): 2.1 million