Blue Skies and Greener Airports
Since the invention of the first powered aircraft by Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1903, we have come a long way in the luxury that we consider air travel to be. It has become an essential part of most people’s lives; whether that be to fly to a tropical destination for a vacation, or to visit and reunite with loved ones from around the globe. Air travel has been a huge part of globalization and creating a more connected society and, in many ways, we would not be where we are today without the help of air travel.
However, like most luxuries in life, it comes at a steep price (and I’m not talking about the cost of airfare). Mile for mile, flying is the most damaging way to travel for the climate. Around 2.4% of global CO2 emissions come from aviation. Together with other gasses and the water vapour trails produced by aircraft, the industry is responsible for around 5% of global warming. The United Nations expects airplane emissions of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, to triple by 2050. While scientists are working diligently to address the issues of emissions through solutions like hydrogen fuel cells, these options may not be available for several years. In the meantime, we would like to highlight three airports across the world that are making tremendous efforts to make the travel experience more eco-conscious.
1. Oslo Airport, Norway
In 2018, the airport was expanded using renewable and natural materials, including reusable steel, environmentally friendly concrete mixed with volcanic ash, and timber sourced from Scandinavia forests. Oslo Airport collects snow from runways during he winter and stores it in a warehouse. In the summertime when the weather heats up, the reserved snow turns into coolant for the internal building in the airport. By choosing environmentally-friendly materials, the building's CO2 emissions were reduced by 35 percent. Additionally, energy consumption in the new expansion has been cut by more than 50 percent compared to the existing terminal. Norway has become a pioneer in green airports for countries around the world to become inspired by this green architecture.
2. Galápagos Ecological Airport, Galápagos Islands
Galapagos Ecological Airport (formally Seymour Airport) was re-vamped in 2012 to run solely on solar and wind power, and 80% of its infrastructure is made from materials recycled from the old building. It even has mechanical shutters that open and close depending on the building's heat and CO2 levels. Fresh water comes care of the airport's own desalination plant, which converts local seawater. Around 35% of the airport's energy is produced by photovoltaic panels installed on the walkways, and the remaining 65% comes from windmills situated in strategic sites within the facility.
3. Changi Airport, Singapore
In Singapore’s Changi Airport, the green-experience begins even before stepping foot in the terminal. Lining the airport road, surrounding the control tower and even leading into the airport itself, are trees and greenery planted to help reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants. A smart lighting system that detects and regulates the amount of daylight entering the building. On sunny days, the skylights automatically open up to block out excessive sunlight; but during an overcast day, they close its panels to allow maximum daylight — all while saving electricity. Using baggage tractors powered by clean energy, the airport moves your luggage from one end to the other consciously — and effortlessly. The tarmac and airport runway is paved by a first-of-its-kind formula made from recycled concrete. Changi also recycles food waste with digesters and microbes that break these food waste down, clean water is actually produced.
At Eco Four Twenty, we realize how difficult it can be to have access to eco-friendly alternatives to air travel to get you to where you need to be. That is why we want to commend these airports on taking the steps to counteract some of the carbon footprint that is created through air travel by creating a more eco-conscious framework for these flights to take place.