Airports Going “Green’


Airports Going “Green’

Energy use is a significant percentage of an airport’s operating costs. With energy prices rising, facility managers are under pressure to find solutions to reduce these expenses. While airports are subject to an array of environmental regulations, airport operators across the U.S. are going above and beyond regulatory requirements to proactively reduce the negative effects that aviation can have on the environment.
Some facilities are aggressively implementing “green” measures, which can lessen energy costs and generate favorable impressions among travelers. In this sense, airport sustainability as a business strategy has both immediate and long-term measurable benefits.
As Airport World magazine editor Joe Bates wrote in the August/September 2010 issue: “Airports simply have to run and operate in a sustainable manner or they will suffer the consequences like any other business.”
There are numerous organizations that help airports’ sustainability efforts. For example, [the] Green Airport Initiative provides North American airports with a comprehensive, streamlined approach for shrinking their environmental footprints while creating a blueprint for sustainable development.
Another is Airports Council International (ACI) North America, a trade association whose members work collaboratively with manufacturers, airlines and international, federal and state/local/provincial entities to respond to environmental concerns.
Energy efficiency and environmental stewardship are important components in operating an airport. Airport facility managers are keenly aware that passengers are looking to see if an airport is reducing its energy footprint, conserving valuable resources and managing the costs of running an airport more effectively.
One strategy to help make airports’ daily operations more energy-efficient and sustainable is through installation of exterior light-emitting diode (LED) luminaires. Exterior lighting has three primary functions – safety, security and ambiance. As manufacturers have honed the luminaires [designs] with technology advances, sustainability and design now complement each other.
LED luminaires for general outdoor lighting provide a win for everyone – applications can retain the aesthetic and performance integrity of the property, while also offering savings on energy and maintenance.
Palm Beach International Airport
West Palm Beach, FL
Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA) is operated by Palm Beach County’s Department of Airports. It is committed to enhancing the airport through sustainable products whenever possible, especially in ways to reduce energy consumption costs and maintenance expenses.
An overall energy audit was conducted by Florida-based Hillers Engineering to determine current usage and to identify opportunities for efficiency and reduction.
One area identified as needing efficiency upgrading was the airport’s arrival and departure roadway. Originally, it had 695 100W metal-halide fixtures using about 66,000 kWh per month. The 25-year-old fixtures desperately needed upgrading.
A lighting design study was conducted to evaluate LED luminaires, along with traditional metal-halide fixtures, based on illumination and economic performance. According to Tom Galassi, PBIA Maintenance Supervisor, there was no comparison – the luminaires were an easy retrofit choice.
The recent installation of 695 79W LED luminaires will provide PBIA with an annual energy savings of 429,388 kWh; an annual energy cost savings of approximately $34,000; and an annual lighting maintenance savings of more than $27,000.
The airport reportedly will recoup its investment in about five years.
Feedback on the visual effects of the lighting installation has been incredible. Travelers have commented to PBIA officials that the lighting is bright and white, making it easier to see the roadway.
PBIA’s Galassi said he is “very pleased with the project, and the anticipated energy and maintenance savings.”
Additionally, sheriff deputies who patrol the arrival / departure roadway and direct area traffic have spoken highly of the new LED luminaires, saying that they make visibility easier and the lighting more evenly distributed.
PBIA improvement plans include re-lighting the baggage handling areas, roadway signage, aircraft gate parking and the existing parking garages — all with LED luminaires.
Michael Winegard, East Coast Regional Sales Manager with BetaLED, can be reached at

Article contributed by:
Michael Winegard
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