Over the last year, we’ve seen two major trends in the greening of U.S. airports: solar power and LEED certification. Consider Denver International Airport’s whopping 8 megawatts (MW) of solar generation, and Indianapolis International Airport’s plan to build out a solar farm expected to produce more than 15 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy on an annual basis.
Then there are the LEED certifications: Silver for San Jose International‘s Terminal B, Gold for San Francisco International’s Terminal 2, and it would appear that all of those solar panels at Indianapolis have helped the airport gain basic LEED certification for its entire terminal campus.
As in the case of Indianapolis, these two trends converge in the Chattanooga Airport’s new energy-efficient, 9,000-square-foot corporate flight center terminal facility, which was recently awarded LEED Platinum certification, making it the first aviation terminal in the world to achieve this level of certification. The airport recently completed the first phase of a 3 MW solar power project, installing a 1 MW array to help power airport operations, and the terminal facility continues that build out with almost 4,000 more solar panels, installed just south of the terminal.
The plan? To power the entire airport with renewable energy.
“This remarkable achievement reflects the Chattanooga Airport’s belief that sustainability is more than a simple responsibility to the environment,” said Dan Jacobson, chairman of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority, in a statement. “Sustainability represents our civic duty to improve the quality of life for the community in which we all live, work and play.”
In addition to its solar generation, the Chattanooga center earned the highest level of LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in recognition of its green systems and materials, which include: locally sourced furniture; easily accessible alternative transportation for employees and clients; bike storage and changing rooms; reserved parking for low emissions and fuel efficient vehicles; and native landscaping comprising indigenous plants that require no irrigation. During construction, 95 percent of all construction wastes were recycled, reused or otherwise diverted from the landfill.
The 12,000-square-foot aircraft hangar on the West Side Aviation Campus at the Chattanooga Airport was also certified by U.S. Green Building Council in recent years as a LEED-certified (Gold) facility. The hangar’s green features include recycled-content steel beams and sheeting; a highly energy-efficient infrared heating system; and a unique day lighting structure that brings windows int0 the hangar.
Surprised that a city in Tennessee would feature such a super-green airport? You shouldn’t be, according to Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, who believes that the city has evolved from a center of pollution to “the gold standard of sustainability.”