San Francisco to build U.S.’ first LEED Gold airport terminal

November 26, 2010

virgin terminal

Upping the ante in the greener-than-thou sweepstakes, San Francisco is building what would be the nation’s first LEED Gold-certified airport terminal.

LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – is a program run by the United States Green Building Council that awards certification to buildings that meet criteria for sustainability, energy efficiency, water use and other factors.

The revamped Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport, which will be home to Virgin America when it opens next spring, is designed to cut energy use by 20 percent and will feature a reclaimed water system.

Ninety percent of the debris from the demolition of the old terminal is being recycled, according to the airport.

Hybrid car drivers will get preferential parking (though passengers can take the train to and from the airport) and the terminal will offer “hydration stations” so people can refill their reusable water bottles once they make it through security.

And fittingly for the birthplace of California cuisine, the terminal’s restaurants will sell locally grown organic food.

“The new T2 demonstrates that sustainability is achievable on many levels – from reusing construction debris to rethinking water usage to public education,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.  “We are proud, once again, to be taking the lead on sustainable innovation.”

Left unsaid, of course, is that air travel is one of the most carbon-intensive forms of transportation, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. A single round-trip transcontinental flight, for instance, can emit 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger, the equivalent of the emissions from a home over six months.

Still, business travelers are sure to appreciate some non-LEED features of Virgin’s new home base – laptap charging stations and free wireless Internet access throughout the terminal.

(Image courtesy of Virgin America.)

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Correction to your story. The first LEED Gold passenger terminal building in the US is located at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina. The building was completed in 2010 and received LEED Gold certification in October 2010.

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