CSR / SUSTAINABILITY

San Francisco International Airport installs water bottle refill stations after security

Since security rules were tightened several years ago, passengers are not allowed to take more than a tiny drop of water (3 fl oz / 90ml in the U.S. and 100 ml in Europe) through security. This has been a nuisance for the travelling public, as many people have to purchase a bottle of water again beyond security to replace the one left behind.

Alternatively, passengers can bring an empty bottle through security and fill it up from a tap on the other side. However, as the Economist last year blogged, surprisingly few airports have made water fountains available or have hidden them in hard to find corners (by the way Amsterdam Schiphol Airport’s new ‘Ambient Gate’ is a welcome exception). Furthermore, bathroom sinks and public drinking fountains are often not in a very hygienic state, and many aren’t designed to allow for a easy fill of a bottle.

Global Tap hydration stations
San Francisco International Airport (SFO), already one of the most environmentally active airports in the U.S., has come up with an innovative solution to solve this situation and to reduce plastic waste. The airport has installed two tap water ‘hydration stations’ in the ‘airside’ part of the terminal and encourages passengers to carry their emptied plastic containers through security.

The water bottle refill stations were designed by IDEO and developed by a company called Global Tap. Users place  their bottle under a spigot, press a button and tap water flows vertically into the container. The blue slender question mark-shaped hydration stations are also easy to be recognized by travellers and have been installed near the food court in SFO’s Terminal 3 (used by United Airlines) and at the airport’s International Terminal. More pictures of the Global Tap stations at SFO are available here and here. Read full article »

Green is the new black: ANA trials hydrogen fuel cell vehicle as limousine service

Airports are fast becoming sites where alternative fuel-powered vehicles are tested, as the trials can be carried out within an contained area or on standard routes, for example between the city and the airport. We have covered the use of environmental-friendly vehicles at airports before on airlinetrends.com (“Airport vehicles go green”), for example KLM has been testing the ‘AirPod’, a zero-emission vehicle that runs on compressed air, to transport people and light cargo at Schiphol Airport.

Another promising green technology are hydrogen fuel cells, which combined with oxygen in the air, produce electricity to power vehicles, with water as the only emission. If the electricity used in producing the hydrogen is generated by wind, water or solar energy, the result is a zero-emission energy source.

All Nippon Airways
At Tokyo Narita Airport, All Nippon Airways (ANA) has teamed up with Toyota to test the latest version of the Toyota Highlander ‘FCHV-adv’ (which stands for fuel cell hybrid vehicle-advanced). During February and March 2011, the vehicles will be used as part of ANA’s ‘Welcome-Home Limousine Taxi Service’ for premium passengers returning to Japan on flights from Europe or the U.S., as well as for the airline’s early morning pickup service. The Toyota’s operated by ANA will be used to collect data on the performance of the fuel-cell, such as fuel efficiency and consumption, both in the city-style as on the highway. Toyota plans to have a consumer-ready version of the FCHV-adv available on the U.S. market by the end of 2015.

Virgin Atlantic
The initiative by ANA and Toyota follows a similar trial by Virgin Atlantic and General Motors in 2008. As part of GM’s ‘Project Driveway’ zero-emission trial, Virgin Atlantic used three hydrogen fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Equinox SUVs to provide complimentary ground transportation for its ‘Upper Class’ passengers in Los Angeles and New York.
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Finnair goes on an upcycling spree

We have reported earlier on how KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic have teamed up with outside designers in ‘upcycling’ initiatives that gave old uniforms and aircraft seats a second life as bags and other accessories. Not only is upcycling a good way to re-use discarded materials, it also make a great story behind the new products that were created out of old aircraft interior materials. Now Finnair is the latest airline to announce a series of upcycling initiatives.

Uniforms, seat covers, seat belts, curtains and life vests
In 2009, Finnair assigned Globe Hope the task of giving a new use to the fabric of Finnair’s discarded uniforms. Helsinki-based Globe Hope specializes in the design and production of clothing and accessories from recycled materials. The dark-blue fabric used in Finnair’s jackets and ties was converted into toilet bags and Globe Hope also turned Finnair seat belts into toilet bags for men. In early 2010, Finnair also commisioned sustainable design firm EDEL City with the design of a stylish bag set from used aircraft curtains and seatbelts. In June 2010, EDEL City’s launched the first item of its so-called ‘F-air-line’ collection, a luxurious shopping bag which retails for EUR59. EDEL City says it is planning more upcycled ‘F-air-line’ items.

Furthermore, as the vivid yellow material of old life vests also lend themselves perfectly to be re-used as high-visibility safety clothing for school children, Finnair donated 200 yellow safety vests to the first graders of two local schools.

Video monitors
In another upcycling initiative, parts of Finnair’s recently retired MD-11 aircraft have been refashioned by Finnish design agency Seos Design into energy efficient LED lamps. Says Pekka Kumpula, creative director at Seos Design, “I went to have a look around Finnair’s Technical Services facilities and became especially interested in the potential of the support elements for video monitors, from which the ‘First Class / Eco Lighting’ LED lamps evolved.”
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Uber-green parking facility comes to Denver International Airport

Opening on November 24th, 2010 at Colorado’s Denver International Airport, Canopy Airport Parking  is an über-green parking facility that aims to be a model for future green parking projects. The 4200-car eco-friendly parking is powered by solar, wind and geothermal energy sources and is illuminated by LED lamps. Canopy also provides free charging for electric vehicles and minivans powered by alternative fuel shuttle travelers between the parking lot and the airport terminal.

According to the companies behind Canopy, Greenscape Capital and Propark America, the parking facility is designed as a practical ‘proof-of-concept’ to demonstrate that airport parking lots can be more energy efficient and reduce their environmental impact. Canopy aims to be the world’s first LEED-Gold certified project of its kind and the two companies intend to apply the knowledge gained at Canopy to other parking facilities.

Wind, solar and geothermal energy
Eight wind turbines, manufactured by Windspire and designed to operate in urban settings, have been installed around the main entrance of the Canopy parking. The 30 feet tall and 4 feet wide wind turbines have a propeller-free design and operate in an ultra-quiet manner. Six poles holding solar panels, manufactured by Evergreen are also installed at the parking facility. These solar panels have the lowest voltage per watt rating and the smallest carbon footprint in the industry. Furthermore, geothermal energy from 300-feet deep holes heat and cool the buildings, while reflective roofing reduces air conditioning load. Canopy also plans to harness landfill-produced methane gas, which it will convert to natural gas to meet its energy needs.
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KLM donates old uniforms for upcycling into new products

Following earlier initiatives by Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic (seat covers and curtains), KLM is upcycling its old uniforms into bags, belts and slippers. In April 2010, more than 11,000 female cabin crew, ground staff and pilots at KLM changed into new uniforms designed by Dutch couturier Mart Visser. All blue items of the previous female uniform were collected for recycling, which resulted in 90,000 kilos of fabric.

Because of security reasons, many airlines destroy discarded uniforms as wearing an old airline outfit could make it easier to slip through airport security illegally. Airline uniforms are also in popular demand for carnival or even worse in erotic clubs. For this last reason, Japan Airlines says it has recently marked its uniforms as its restructuring will make thousands of staff redundant. Second-had JAL uniforms can generate as much as EUR2,500 and are a popular ‘roleplay’ costume.

KLM says it has been looking for ways to discard its uniforms in a thorough but sustainable way. The airline has teamed up with Texperium, which was recently set up with the help of the Dutch government, and promotes the reprocessing of discarded textiles and the development of high added value products from recycled fibres. KLM is the first company to use a new machine which reduces textile to small flocks, which then become the basic material for new products. According to the airline the recycling of the 90,000 kilos of uniforms saves 500 million litres of water, 1 million cubic meter of natural gas, and 4,600 tons of CO2. See this video (in Dutch) for an impression of KLM’s upcycling process. 
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Singapore Airlines goes digital with in-flight magazines

Singapore Airlines has introduced an electronic version of its its three in-flight magazines – SilverKris (in-flight magazine), KrisShop (sales catalogue); and KrisWorld (entertainment guide) – on its KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system. The digital magazines will be high resolution and passengers will be able to choose their own font, search by keyword, and zoom in to aid reading. Singapore Airlines says it is the first in the world to offer an e-magazine. The e-magazines are part of a trial with a Singapore-based company, SmarttPapers Aviation. and Singapore Airlines says it eventual goal is to create a paperless aircraft.

The airline may extend the initiative at a later date to cover other publications, including menu cards and the more than 100 international and local magazines carried in the cabin. This is “in line with efforts to reduce the amount of paper carried on board, thus reducing weight and saving fuel”, the carrier said in a statement. “E-books and e-magazines have gained popularity and we want to offer these to our customers.” The digital magazines made their debut on 2 B777-300ERs on 31 July, and will be followed by 2 A380s, before being rolled out Singapore Airlines aircraft equipped with the Panasonic eX2 IFE system. Read full article »

Portland Airport opens bike station to let flyers (dis)assemble their bikes more easily

Portland, Oregon is known as one of the most bike-friendly cities around. In fact, it has recently been named the world’s second best cycling city (after Amsterdam and before Copenhagen). For travelers and airport staff, the city also makes it easy to take a bike on the light rail train that runs to and from Portland International Airport (PDX). Furthermore, PDX is one of the few airports with a bike path that connects to the airport. 

As many travelers visit Oregon and the state of Washington for bike tourism or to participate in the region’s popular bicycle races, PDX recently has opened a ‘bike assembly station’ where travelers can assemble and disassemble their bikes before and after flights. The new service helps cyclists more quickly prepare their bikes for travel, whether it’s away from the airport on the PDX bike path or for a return flight home. The bike station is also available to airport employees who bike to work. As an extra service, basic bike tools, such as a pedal wrench and air pump, are available for check-out at the Travel Oregon welcome center in the bag claim area.  Read full article »

German airports use honey bees to ‘bio-monitor’ air quality

Airports in Germany have come up with an unusual approach to assess air quality by using bees as ‘biomonitors’ at the airports. Bees absorb pollutants directly from water or the air, or indirectly via the nectar and pollen they collect. Colonies of bees work their areas intensively and can cover an area of up to 12 square kilometres in their quest for food. By analyzing the honey and beeswax for toxin levels and comparing it to samples produced by bees in non-industrial areas, the bees can provide a representative overview of the environmental conditions at the airport. 

The bees are kept at Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, and Hamburg International Airports as well as at regional airports such as Leipzig/Halle, Nuernberg, Hannover and Dresden. Orga Lab, who analyzes honey samples twice between spring and autumn on pollutants, such as heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) for the German airports, said the honey “was comparable to honey produced in areas without any industrial activity.” In fact several airports have had their honey been awarded the German ‘Qualitätshonig’ seal of approval. Read full article »

Delta upcycles aircraft seat covers into fashionable bags

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials, which would otherwise go to landfill, into new products or materials of better quality. Companies like Tierra Ideas in the U.S and WornAgain (slogan: “Every product has got a story to tell”) in the UK work with large corporations to create fashionable upcycled products. The benefits are three-fold: waste is recycled, companies add an eco-friendly touch to their brands, and many consumers like the story behind the upcycled product. 

Tierra Ideas  just announced its new 2010 ‘Aero’ bags collection in partnership with Delta Air Lines. Delta has donated worn and retired seat covers, blankets and curtains from its aircraft as well as from all Northwest aircraft that were refurbished when Delta acquired Northwest in 2008. After separating the fabrics by pattern (frequent fliers will recognize the different Northwest and Delta patterns) Tierra Ideas has turned them into messenger bags (price: USD219), laptop sleeves (USD55), and duffle bags (USD62). 
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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. 
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JetBlue asks the public to do ‘one thing that is green’

Launched as an environmental awareness event in the United States in 1970, Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22 as the birth of the environmental movement. Today, mainly in the U.S, Earth Day is a day to think about the actions people can take to help protect the environment.

In this spirit, JetBlue has kicked off its ‘One Thing That’s Green’ campaign on Earth Day. For the second year, the airline asks customers, crewmembers and communities across its network to join together in pledging to do ‘one thing that is green’ to protect the environment. The carrier says that just by making small changes to daily habits, such as turning off the water when brushing ones teeth, everyone can help make the world a greener place. This year, JetBlue’s own One Thing That’s Green pledge is a donation of one tree to Carbonfund.org for each of its 12,000 crewmembers to further offset carbon emissions.
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Airport vehicles go green

Many airlines and airports already try to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from operations on the ground where possible. JetBlue, Air France-KLM and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport are taking another step by introducing non-CO2 emitting ground vehicles.

JetBlue says it has just purchased a new environmentally-friendly utility truck for use by its technical operations team at New York’s JFK airport. The MILES electric work truck’s maximum speed is 25 miles an hour and travels 50-60 miles (80-95 km) on a charge. JetBlue says it plans to purchase additional vehicles to reduce its carbon footprint and consumption of fuel.
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Thai Airways shows CO2 footprint of inflight meals on menu card

Thai Airways (THAI) claims to be the first airline in the world to provide carbon footprint information on a number of signature dishes served on board. Since the beginning of 2010, the CO2 impact of two Thai signature dishes – Chicken Mussaman Curry with steamed rice (13.6 kg CO2 e per 250g serving) and Green Curry Kiew-Wan with steamed rice (13.9 kg CO2 e per 250g serving) have been printed on the inflight menu.

THAI says it hopes passengers become more environmentally conscious when they are aware of the amount of greenhouse gasses produced in the choice of meals offered in the menu. The CO2 labelling is the result of THAI’s participation in the Carbon Footprint Technical Cooperation Project for Thai Products, which was initiated by the Thai government.
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Airports reward employees for green commuting

As part of their environmental programs, a number of airports are introducing schemes that reduce traffic congestion and environmental impact. Initiatives vary from facilitating employees and customers to share a car when travelling to and from the airport, to rewarding staff and passengers driving a hybrid, electric or other fuel efficient vehicle with designated parking lots located close to the airport terminal or workplace.

Since January 2010, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is rewarding employees working at the airport with the best parking spots on the staff parking areas. Employees that drive a hybrid or small fuel efficient car (emission below 110 gram CO2/km) can apply for a so-called ‘ECO2 parking badge’ which has to be placed behind the front screen of the car. 
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Southwest rewards volunteering employees with Tickets 4 Time

Southwest Airlines’ ‘Share the Spirit’ program encourages employees to embrace local charities and nonprofits in every destination across the carrier’s network. To pay tribute to its employee volunteers, Southwest Airlines is introducing a new program called ‘Tickets for Time’ (T4T). The T4T program is an addition to the Share the Spirit program and provides one complimentary, roundtrip ticket on Southwest Airlines for fund-raising or transportation needs for every 40 hours a Southwest volunteer dedicated to an organization. A nonprofit organization may receive up to six tickets a year through T4T and the hours can be accrued by one or more volunteers. 

T4T puts a nice twist on corporate volunteering programs, since rather than simply match donations, Southwest is offering their employees the opportunity to earn tickets for nonprofit organizations of their choosing. In Southwest’s words: “We know that our employees do so much for so many organizations and T4T is a great way for Southwest to applaud and encourage employee volunteerism.” Last year Southwest staff collectively volunteered more than 35,000 hours to nonprofit organizations across the country, about one volunteer hour to every Southwest employee. 
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