Leading the way

The aviation industry is often portrayed as the chief offender of rising carbon emissions, with airplanes contributing two per cent of the world’s human-generated Co2. However, it is not all doom and gloom. Here are five green airports fighting the good fight.


Munich Airport, Germany

In an environmental management plan outlined in early 2010, Munich Airport aimed to become carbon neutral by 2020. Since January 2008 it has charged landing fees that increase according to the airplanes’ carbon emissions and noise levels. It deploys 18 vehicles that run fully on canola oil, supplemented by 55 hybrid vehicles. In total, it estimates to have saved more than 250 tonnes of carbon emissions by using plant oils. It has also planted a 3,600-square-metre solar power field on the roof of one of its terminals.


Boston Logan Airport, United States

Certain airports have so many ecological policies that it is best to focus on a chosen few. For a start, Logan Airport in Boston has installed wind turbines on one of its rooftops. It also deploys 400 hybrid taxis. It has spent $6.3million (£4.2million) repaving its runways using a so-called ‘warm mix’ asphalt, which is heated at between 250˚C and 275˚C; 50˚C to 75˚C less than the normal ‘hot mix’ type. Apparently, this has saved more than 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. To top it off, around 18 per cent of the new asphalt is made of recycled content.


Zurich Airport, Switzerland

Green policies such as recycling and energy-efficient light-bulbs are commonplace in several airports. They are commendable, but nothing out of the ordinary. What fewer have is a conservation area situated in the middle of the airport. That’s right: Zurich Airport has a 74-acre natural park located between two of its runways. It complements a second conservation area outside of the airport, and apparently includes several rare species.


Denver International Airport, United States

Being one of the largest and busiest airports in the United States, Denver’s environmental stance is admirable. It has introduced three photovoltaic solar arrays, spread across a total of 44 acres in a nearby field. They are designed to produce 13 million kWh per year, which amounts to roughly 5.6 per cent of the airport’s electricity usage. Elsewhere, it has built what is among the world’s greenest car parks; it includes wind turbines, solar panels, recycled steel and 90-metre-deep geothermal bore holes with heat pump technology.


Dave-W-ClarkeEast Midlands Airport, England

This airport has won numerous green awards, and with good reason. Over the past decade, it has brought in manual waste sorting procedures, penalties for noisy airplanes, low-carbon buildings and a green on-site hotel. It has reduced the flush volume of its toilets to save water, and installed two commercial wind turbines that generate five per cent of the airport’s electricity usage. There is also a 26-hectare farm that grows fuel for a biomass boiler inside the terminal building. Oh, and last year it had a recycling percentage of 88 per cent. Not bad at all.

Photos: Patrick Poendl, urbanlight, chungking, J. Lang, Fedor Selivanov [all via Shutterstock.com], Dave W Clarke.