In the wake of the global climate crisis, the aviation industry has seen a surge in the development of eco-friendly airports. Airport operations have been linked to several environmental problems, including noise pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, garbage, land use, and congestion Airports are a major contributor to air pollution in the United States. In fact, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the single greatest contributor to carbon monoxide (CO) emissions in the state of California.
Airports are the gateways to our world and a traveller’s first impression of a destination. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure they’re not just aesthetically pleasing but also eco-friendly. Concerns about airports’ environmental impact have prompted airport engineering specialists and architects to design environmentally friendly airports.
To lessen their ecological footprint, the airports below use strategies as varied as the adoption of wood in their designs, solar panels, modular design, and even a massive waterfall.
The World’s 10 Most Eco-Friendly Airports
1. Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore
Changi Airport in Singapore is the best place to observe greenery at an airport. Despite being one of the busiest airports in the world, it ranks among the most environmentally friendly. Gardens and landscaping at the airport have become a tourist attraction in their own right.
Changi Airport was designed with post-flight relaxation in mind. The airport has a big greenhouse with the world’s highest indoor waterfall, which houses a lot of plants that can absorb carbon dioxide within the airport. The 40-metre “Rain Vortex” waterfall collects water from Singapore’s frequent thunderstorms and uses it to cool the air within the airport and is also reused for other airport purposes.
2. Dubai International Airport, UAE
Located in one of the richest cities in the world, you may not expect Dubai International Airport to put much effort into recycling. However, Dubai has done a fantastic job of creating a green airport. The airport has cutting-edge flow arrestors to reduce water wastage. Also, the airport’s design minimises the need for air conditioning and lighting, which consume significant energy.
Dubai International Airport has also recently added electric cars to its ground support fleet as part of its attempt to decrease its carbon footprint and effect on the environment. To reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills, the airport also has a robust recycling programme in place, collecting paper and plastic bottles for recycling.
3. Denver International Airport, United States
With its well-deserved reputation as one of the top green sustainable airports in the U.S., Denver International Airport was an easy choice for our list. The airport uses one of the world’s largest and most diverse solar power systems to run its daily operations. It has the most solar power generation capacity among U.S. commercial airports, at 10 MW. The solar energy generated accounts for 8% of the airport’s annual electricity usage, enough to power more than 2,500 typical Denver-area homes for an entire year.
Moreover, Denver International Airport has a progressive recycling programme. The airport’s public areas are equipped with single-stream recycling bins. To help cut down on wasteful single-use water bottles, the airport has also installed water refilling facilities after security checkpoints.
4. Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden
It’s hardly surprising that Sweden is one of the countries working to green its airports. After all, Sweden and its Nordic neighbours are at the forefront of environmentally responsible and efficient energy production and technological innovation. In 2009, Stockholm Arland Airport made history by becoming Europe’s first carbon-neutral airport. It’s also the only airport in the world to have a cap on carbon dioxide emissions included in its environmental permit.
Arlanda Airport has a one-of-a-kind biofuel heating system that taps into an underground aquifer’s water supply to provide environmentally friendly energy year-round. In the hotter seasons, the water is channelled into the airport’s air conditioning system to cool the terminals. In colder months, it is used to melt snow and ice off the runway. This energy-efficient solution saves Arlanda Airport money, electricity, and the environment.
5. Indira Gandhi International Airport, India
Indira Gandhi International Airport is the world’s eighth-busiest and most recently built eco-friendly airport. This airport has been awarded LEED New Construction Gold certification by the Indian Green Building Council.
The airport was built entirely from recycled materials. It has 200 energy-efficient LCDs and uses ambient light to reduce energy use further. The departure lounge is only lit by natural light throughout the day.
6. Galapagos Ecological Airport, Galapagos Islands
When it opened in December 2012, this airport made news throughout the world as the first “green” airport in Latin America and the Caribbean. It received the highest rating available for environmentally friendly building practices. About two-thirds of its power comes from wind turbines, while the remaining one-third comes from solar panels mounted on the terminal walkways.
80% of the airport is made of recycled materials, such as steel pipes salvaged from oil fields in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Wood and metal from the former airport were repurposed, and eco-friendly materials were used to craft the furnishings. There’s a desalination plant at the airport that treats seawater for use inside the terminals. As for the wastewater, it’s treated before being reused in the airport but not for consumption.
7. Zurich Airport, Switzerland
The Zurich Airport has cutting-edge technology to optimise the region’s climate and natural resources. Geothermal energy powers the air conditioners and heaters, while rainwater is recycled for bathroom flushes. Solar panels help the airport save money on its electricity bill. Compressed natural gas stations are also used to lessen the airport’s environmental impact.
8. Oslo Airport, Norway
The Oslo Airport is a prime example of sustainable Scandinavian architecture. The airport’s expansion in 2018 included the use of eco-friendly resources such as concrete made from volcanic ash, recycled steel, and wood from Scandinavian forests.
The airport uses snow to save money on power for air conditioning and heating systems throughout the summer. Runway snow is shovelled into a storage facility during the winter months. Later, in the summer, the snow is used to cool the buildings’ interiors. As a result of this initiative, the airport received an “excellent” rating from the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment System, recognising its commitment to sustainability.
9. Boston Logan International Airport, USA
In 2006, Logan International Airport’s Terminal A received the highly regarded LEED certification, making it the first airport terminal in the U.S. to get such an honour. During the years afterwards, Boston Logan has established itself as a leader among sustainable airports.
Terminal A has water-saving, low-flow fixtures installed, and the building’s heat island effect has been mitigated with reflective roofs and pavement. Twenty 6-foot wind turbines are installed on the roofs of the terminal buildings, providing enough power to meet around 3% of the airport’s yearly energy demands.
10. San Diego International Airport, USA
San Diego International Airport has made great strides towards environmental friendliness, earning it the distinction of being the world’s first airport to be awarded the LEED Platinum Certification. Its environmentally friendly features include solar panels, low-wattage LED runway, airfield and guard lighting, heat-reflective roofs, low-flow water fixtures, drought-tolerant landscaping and, of course, green paint and building materials.
Concern about the aviation industry’s environmental impact is increasing among the general public. Air travel is a major contributor to climate change because of the enormous energy needed to operate planes and the greenhouse gases they emit. As a result, airport engineering and design specialists are innovating novel approaches to make airports eco-friendly. Whether planning a trip across the county or overseas, you can get a head start on your eco-friendly adventure by flying into one of these airports.