Take Offs & Land­ings

From bio­philic ar­chi­tec­ture to cir­ca­dian light­ing, sus­tain­abil­ity is the trend shap­ing air­port de­sign

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Jenny Southan

A New Leaf – Sus­tain­abil­ity is shap­ing air­port de­sign. South­west, jet­Blue snap up Rea­gan slots. DFW un­veils au­to­mated pass­port con­trol. Record growth at Hous­ton air­ports. Dulles opens TSA Pre-Check cen­ter

Ac­cord­ing to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, some­one fly­ing from Lon­don to NewYork and back again will gen­er­ate about the same level of car­bon emis­sions as an aver­age Euro­pean does heat­ing their home for an en­tire year.

It’s not un­rea­son­able to ques­tion how “fly­ing” and “green” are com­pat­i­ble, yet de­spite be­ing re­spon­si­ble for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of green­house gases, there are plenty of in­no­va­tions tak­ing hold – from bio­fuel to eco-pi­lot train­ing – that are re­duc­ing the harm­ful im­pact of planes. And the same goes for air­ports.

Jim Stanis­laski, se­nior as­so­ciate at ar­chi­tec­tural firm Gensler, which has worked on projects in­clud­ing Denver In­ter­na­tional, NewYork JFK and the re­cently un­veiled Chen­nai In­ter­na­tional, says that in the fu­ture, sus­tain­abil­ity will be “ab­so­lutely” in­te­gral to air­port de­sign. The rea­son why? Be­cause“the al­ter­na­tive is not to care and build build­ings that pol­lute even more.”

This seems log­i­cal, but what does sus­tain­abil­ity ac­tu­ally mean? “People, planet, profit,” Stanis­laski says. “To de­velop en­vi­ron­ments that con­sider the im­pact on oc­cu­pants in terms of health and well­be­ing, the [wider] en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, and sav­ing money and re­sources.”

Of the air­ports Gensler has de­signed, he cites San Fran­cisco’s T2 for its sus­tain­able food poli­cies and the Port­land In­ter­na­tional Jet­port for its geo­ther­mal heat­ing and cool­ing sys­tem, as well as the up­com­ing Greenville-Spar­tan­burg in South Carolina for its air­side gar­den, and Ter­mi­nal 2 at In­cheon In­ter­na­tional in South Korea, which is set for com­ple­tion in 2017, for its in­door green space.

To rec­og­nize those air­ports that are tak­ing real steps to re­duce car­bon emis­sions, Air­ports Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional (ACI) launched the in­de­pen­dently as­sessed Air­port Car­bon Ac­cred­i­ta­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in 2009. It’s the only one of its kind and is on its way to be­com­ing the global car­bon stan­dard for such fa­cil­i­ties. There are four lev­els – the first be­ing recog­ni­tion for an air­port map­ping its car­bon emis­sions, while the fourth (and high­est) is for achiev­ing “neu­tral­ity” by off­set­ting emis­sions.

At the mo­ment, 75 air­ports in Europe have been rec­og­nized (only 14 have neu­tral­ity, in­clud­ing Oslo, Mi­lan Malpensa and all ten of Swe­davia’s Swedish air­ports); 12 in Asia-Pa­cific (there are none at level four and only two at level three – Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional and Hy­der­abad); and one in Africa (En­fidha Ham­mamet air­port in Tu­nisia) at the level one phase.

“The air­port in­dus­try is keenly aware that ef­fi­ciency and sus­tain­abil­ity have be­come vi­tal parts of any 21st-century busi­ness. One of the in­ter­est­ing things about this pro­gram is the di­ver­sity of the ef­forts and in­no­va­tions air­ports are putting in place to lower their

‘Air­ports long ago re­al­ized that they are stew­ards of the en­vi­ron­ment

car­bon foot­prints,” ac­cord­ing to Robert O’Meara, di­rec­tor of me­dia and com­mu­ni­ca­tions for ACI Europe.

“Stock­holm Ar­landa in­tro­duced a rule that in­cen­tivized hy­brid-tech­nol­ogy based taxis, which over time saw all the taxis serv­ing the air­port be­come hy­brid/ low emis­sions. The pho­to­voltaic so­lar park at Athens In­ter­na­tional is one ex­am­ple of an ini­tia­tive that is clearly very com­pat­i­ble with the cli­mate there – but it’s not nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to work as an op­tion for ev­ery air­port in Europe.”

Mouzhan Ma­jidi, chief ex­ec­u­tive for Fos­ter and Part­ners – which has worked on Bei­jing, Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok and Kuwait In­ter­na­tional, among other air­ports – agrees that sus­tain­abil­ity, in all its per­mu­ta­tions, is vi­tally im­por­tant. “Air­ports long ago re­al­ized that they are stew­ards of the en­vi­ron­ment and very pub­lic places – and it’s not just the build­ings, it’s the con­struc­tion process, the ve­hi­cles, the way the planes are pulled out to the run­way, the han­dling of waste wa­ter, and use of the sun as an al­ter­na­tive en­ergy source.

“But these are all spe­cific to cli­mate and lo­ca­tion. Per­haps the most im­por­tant fea­ture of a sus­tain­able air­port is its longevity. This means plan­ning air­ports that can an­tic­i­pate and ac­com­mo­date growth.”

Sav­ing en­ergy to cut emis­sions is some­thing many air­ports have been do­ing for some time. Heathrow is aim­ing to re­duce car­bon from en­ergy use by 34 per­cent by 2020. Af­ter sign­ing the Avi­a­tion In­dus­try Com­mit­ment to Ac­tion on Cli­mate Change (en­viro. aero) in May last year, Chek Lap Kok pledged to be­come the world’s green­est air­port, tak­ing steps such as re­plac­ing all of its lights with 100,000 LEDs by 2014 (sav­ing 15 mil­lion kWh of elec­tric­ity per year), and cre­at­ing an al­l­elec­tric fleet of air­side sa­loon ve­hi­cles.

But be­ing sus­tain­able doesn’t end there – here are three emerg­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal trends that are go­ing to shape the air­port ex­pe­ri­ence for the pas­sen­ger.

Bio­philic En­vi­ron­ments

“We need na­ture in a deep and fun­da­men­tal fash­ion, but we have of­ten de­signed our cities in ways that both de­grade the en­vi­ron­ment and alien­ate us from na­ture. The re­cent trend in green ar­chi­tec­ture has de­creased the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of the built en­vi­ron­ment, but it has ac­com­plished lit­tle in the way of re­con­nect­ing us to the nat­u­ral world, the miss­ing piece in the puzzle of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.” So reads the syn­op­sis for a doc­u­men­tary by Stephen R Kellert and Bill Fin­negan called Bio­philic De­sign: The Ar­chi­tec­ture of Life (bio­philicde­sign.net).

“Bio­philia” is the the­ory that hu­mans have a bi­o­log­i­cal need to con­nect with na­ture for the sake of their well-be­ing and health. “If we were in a room that had no win­dows, that had just ar­ti­fi­cial light and pro­cessed air, ba­si­cally you wouldn’t want to be there for very long,” Kellert ex­plains. “And if you were there for very long and some­how you couldn’t es­cape from that room, you would start to have a kind of a sen­sory de­pri­va­tion.”

The nar­ra­tor of the film’s trailer con­cludes: “En­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion and alien­ation from na­ture are not in­evitable con­se­quences of mod­ern life, but rather they are fail­ures in how we have de­lib­er­ately cho­sen to de­sign build­ings. We

‘You’ll be able to sit by a land­scaped gar­den with foun­tains and wait for your air­craft’

de­signed our­selves into this predica­ment and we can de­sign our­selves out of it with the help of bio­philic de­sign.”

Gensler’s Stanis­laski also sees the value in this new ap­proach, and has been work­ing to in­cor­po­rate it into projects such as In­cheon’s new T2, which will fea­ture “a huge in­door gar­den the size of a soc­cer field,” adding to the var­i­ous oases al­ready in the air­port, such as an ever­green ecog­a­r­den, and beau­ti­ful flower, cac­tus and wa­ter gar­dens.

“It’s much more than throw­ing a few plants and bushes around the ter­mi­nal, ”he says.“It’s about hav­ing views to green­ery and in­cor­po­rat­ing green­ery in a sig­nif­i­cant way through­out.”

He high­lights Greenville-Spar­tan­burg In­ter­na­tional as an ex­am­ple: “It is unique in that it will have an air­side gar­den – it is cur­rently land­side but in our new ren­o­va­tion it will be air­side so that you’ll be able to sit by a land­scaped gar­den with foun­tains and wait for your air­craft.You will also be able to sit out­side and breathe fresh air.”

Voted the world’s best air­port by Busi­ness Trav­eler read­ers, Sin­ga­pore’s Changi has been pi­o­neer­ing this ap­proach for some time. It has a but­ter­fly sanc­tu­ary with more than 1,000 species, ex­otic plants and a 20foot wa­ter­fall; a hor­ti­cul­ture dis­play; and orchid and sun­flower gar­dens with more than 1,200 blooms be­tween them.

Cir­ca­dian Sen­si­tiv­ity

Jet lag is the bane of fre­quent trav­el­ers’ lives, but in­no­va­tions in air­port light­ing may help to ease this in the fu­ture, es­pe­cially when pas­sen­gers are fac­ing long overnight de­lays.

At the end of last year, NASA com­mit­ted to spend­ing $11.2 mil­lion with Boe­ing on de­vel­op­ing “cir­ca­dian light­ing” for its as­tro­nauts on the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion to help their bod­ies keep in sync with their nat­u­ral sleep­ing and wak­ing pat­terns. The colored LED il­lu­mi­na­tion sys­tem will use red, white and blue to help them nod off when they need to and will re­place all flu­o­res­cent lamps by 2016.

Air­ports, and even lounges, are no­to­ri­ous for hav­ing harsh, flat light­ing that re­mains the same through­out the day and night, and any­one spend­ing pro­longed amounts of time in them can find it a drain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. In the fu­ture, it is pos­si­ble that ter­mi­nals will take in­spi­ra­tion from NASA, and be­gin to in­stall light­ing that is sen­si­tive to people’s cir­ca­dian rhythms. A few years ago the US Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity

Ad­min­is­tra­tion was test­ing glow­ing mauve lights at se­cu­rity to make people feel calmer, and even air­craft such as Boe­ing’s Dream­liner are fit­ted with mood light­ing as stan­dard.

“We are look­ing at biorhyth­mic light­ing – how il­lu­mi­na­tion af­fects people’s moods and their cir­ca­dian rhythms, es­pe­cially at some of our in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nals where people may be ar­riv­ing at night,” Stanis­laski says. “In­stead of tak­ing a broad brush and light­ing ev­ery­thing evenly, we are look­ing at how it could change over the course of a day.”

Vir­tu­ous Con­ces­sions

With all the drink­ing and din­ing out­lets an air­port can have, there can be a huge amount of waste. Re­cy­cling poli­cies have been around for years, but air­ports such as San Fran­cisco are now tak­ing this fur­ther by sell­ing lo­cally sourced, or­ganic and ar­ti­sanal pro­duce from nearby farms and vine­yards.

Wher­ever pos­si­ble, cof­fee also needs to be fair­trade, seafood must be sus­tain­able and de­ter­gents low- or non-phos­phate. Ven­dors in San Fran­cisco’s T2 are also re­quired to use biodegrad­able con­tain­ers and cut­lery, and sep­a­rate food waste for com­post­ing.

In May 2011, Chicago O’Hare un­veiled the largest on-air­port api­ary in the world, with more than a mil­lion bees liv­ing in hives in a se­cure 2,400-square-foot space near a run­way ap­proach. Not only does the project mean thou­sands of pounds of honey can be col­lected (ap­prox­i­mately 150 pounds per hive) and sold in the air­port (ei­ther in jars or as bathing prod­ucts un­der the “Bee love” brand), but it helps to re­plen­ish de­clin­ing bee pop­u­la­tions as well as help em­ploy ex-crim­i­nal of­fend­ers re-en­ter so­ci­ety suc­cess­fully. This is vi­tal, since about a third of all the food we eat has to have been pol­li­nated by bees, as do around 80 per­cent of flow­er­ing crops in the US.

Rose­marie S An­dolino, com­mis­sioner for the Chicago Depart­ment of Avi­a­tion, which hosts O’Hare’s an­nual Air­ports Go­ing Green con­fer­ence (air­ports­go­ing­green.org), says: “We also have the first in­door‘ aero­ponic gar­den’ [ a method of grow­ing plants with­out soil] at an air­port – we have 26 aero­ponic tow­ers with more than1,100 plants in­clud­ing veg­eta­bles and herbs.

“It doesn’t fully pro­vide all the veg­eta­bles and herbs we need at our air­port by any means, but it gives us the chance to use fresh, lo­cally sourced prod­ucts. It’s also a place where people can re­lax in a quiet, serene lo­ca­tion.”

Of course, there are plenty of other ini­tia­tives go­ing on be­hind the scenes at air­ports world­wide – from har­vest­ing rain­wa­ter to gen­er­at­ing power from re­new­able re­sources such as the sun and biomass waste. But for the pas­sen­ger, sus­tain­abil­ity will hope­fully mean a more en­joy­able travel ex­pe­ri­ence. BT

From left:

In­cheon; Athens In­ter­na­tional; Chicago O’Hare

From left: Port­land Jet­port; Denver In­ter­na­tional

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