New terminal at San Francisco Airport gets a green makeover

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is currently renovating its Terminal 2 (T2), which was once the heart of the airport. Scheduled for completion in spring 2011, the new terminal is designed to serve 5.5 million passengers a year and will be the home for Virgin America and American Airlines domestic flights. The goal of the USD383 million renovation is to replace the old structure with a 587,000-square-foot building that sets new green standards. 

SFO used the recent Earth Day (22 April 2010) to showcase the environmentally friendly aspects of the new T2 building. The terminal is expected to achieve a silver rating on the LEED green building certification scheme, making it one of the most eco-friendly airport terminals in the U.S. From a construction perspective, the terminal will incorporate energy efficient lighting, which will reduce energy use by 2.9 gigawatt hours a year. The terrazzo flooring inside the terminal will be made from recycled glass chips, and the plumbing system for the toilets is a stand-alone system that will be supplied with reclaimed ‘gray’ water from the airport’s treatment plant. Contractors involved in the renovation project are recycling over 75 percent of all waste from construction. 

From a passenger perspective, the new terminal will feature a number of innovative green services. While passengers at most airports have to dispose of their bottles before walking through security, San Francisco’s T2 will let passengers keep their emptied plastic containers, an idea pioneered at Portland International Airport. After passing through the checkpoint, passengers can stop at socalled ‘hydration stations’ to refill their water bottles. Furthermore, vendors at the terminal are only allowed to sell water in compostable bottles. With regard to catering, a new food marketplace at the terminal will focus on locally grown and produced food. The ‘Napa Farms’ marketplace will include locally known artisan merchants, producers and growers such as Hog Island Oysters, Cowgirl Creamery, Frog Hollow Farms, and Kara’s Cupcakes. All T2 food vendors will also be required to use biodegradable tableware that can be composted and turned into fertilizer. 

To reward ‘green drivers’ SFO will allocate preferential parking spaces in the domestic parking garage for exclusive use by hybrid and electrical vehicles. In 2009, the airport already launched a ‘green rental car program’. Customers receive discounts for renting fuel-efficient vehicles at the airport, and rental car companies receive discounts on their concession fees for increasing their green fleets and renting more green vehicles. In October 2009, SFO also installed ‘carbon offset kiosks’ in two terminals where passengers can purchase carbon offset credits for their flights. The money raised goes to projects that reduce greenhouse gasses in Northern California.

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