Environmental stewardship is a hallmark of operations at San Diego International Airport (SDIA), which is operated by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. In fact, the Airport Authority instituted one of the first sustainability policies for a major airport in the U.S. This formalized the Airport Authority’s commitment to an environmentally sustainable future for the airport and the region.
The Airport Authority is committed to building and operating sustainably, and strives to protect the wide variety of natural resources that exist at SDIA’s location.
The Planning & Environmental Affairs Department manages all environmental-related programs, including airport planning and environmental review, regulatory compliance, water and air quality, site remediation, hazardous material handling and natural resources protection. The department interfaces with other Airport Authority departments to assess potential environmental impacts of all proposed projects. The department is also responsible for long-range airport facility planning, including the San Diego International Airport Master Plan.
As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, the Airport Authority is proud that in 2011, SAN was the first airport in the U.S. to issue a sustainability report based on the internationally recognized criteria of the Global Reporting Initiative. Each year, we report our progress toward our sustainability-related goals through our Sustainability Report, in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative standards.
- The Airport Authority's Sustainability Report for 2019-2020 is available in digital format only and can be found at sustain.san.org.
For more information, please contact the Planning & Environmental Affairs Department at email@example.com.
Sustainability Management Planning
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s Sustainability Management Program is our framework for advancing and measuring our environmental sustainability progress. The Program comprises seven individual plans including water stewardship, strategic energy, carbon neutrality, clean transportation, zero waste, climate resilience, and biodiversity. The Authority sets goals and stand-alone strategies that we aim to achieve by 2035 in each of these programmatic areas.
A summary and overview of the Airport Authority’s Sustainability Management Program and its seven plans can be found here.
For more information or to offer feedback on our sustainability management planning, please contact us at 619.400.2782 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supporting plans to achieve our goals include our:
|Water Stewardship Plan (WSP)
||Establishes the Authority’s vision for the stewardship of water resources and provides a framework for rethinking how we manage our water resources while we prepare to accommodate passenger growth, new airport developments, and a changing climate. Specifically, the plan addresses issues of water conservation, water quality, and flood-risk considerations.
The Water Stewardship Plan can be found here.
|Strategic Energy Plan (STEP)
||Establishes the Authority’s approach in the provision of cost-effective, energy resilience strategies that are environmentally responsible and fully aligned with airport operations and development. It addresses key issues of energy efficiency and conservation including on-site energy generation and storage, enhanced monitoring of key energy metrics, and mechanisms through which to actively engage the broad spectrum of airport stakeholders.
The Strategic Energy Plan can be found here.
|Carbon Neutrality Plan (CNP)
||Establishes the Authority’s strategy for managing air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over which the Authority has control and provides a framework for the airport to achieve carbon neutrality under the ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation program.
The Carbon Neutrality Plan can be found here.
|Clean Transportation Plan (CTP)
||Provides the Authority’s strategy and plan for managing various ground transportation issues. Covers all ground transportation emission sources, including all vehicles and equipment accessing and operating at the airport, whether owned and operated by the Authority or by third parties.
The Clean Transportation Plan can be found here.
|Zero Waste Plan (ZWP)
||The ZWP serves as the Authority’s strategy and plan for managing various waste issues and covers all waste generated at San Diego International Airport (Airport). The ZWP provides an organized framework for eliminating or reducing waste generation and responsibly managing materials that we do produce. The Authority sees zero waste as addressing five primary focus areas, including sustainable materials management, infrastructure and development, training and education, metrics and reporting, and leadership and influence.
The Zero Waste Plan can be found here.
|Climate Resilience Plan (CRP)
||Provides the Authority’s strategy for achieving uninterrupted business continuity in future climate conditions. The Authority is proactively working toward long-term solutions that would allow for improvements in areas related to climate resilience that go beyond complying with existing regulations. This Plan builds off existing initiatives ranging from improving storm drainage capacity in low-lying areas to collaborating with regional stakeholders to explore large-scale coastal flood protection strategies.
The Climate Resilience Plan can be found here.
|Biodiversity Plan (BDP)
||Establishes the Authority’s vision for the stewardship of plants and wildlife. Provides a framework for how we manage onsite habitat for the endangered California Least Tern, reduce the use of biocides through our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, and identify robust drought-tolerant plant species for our campus-wide xeriscape landscape program.
The Biodiversity Plan can be found here.
Embedded in our approach is a Plan-Do-Check-Adjust framework that enables continuous improvement through routine evaluation of our progress. Progress toward our goals is enabled through a variety of action plans and programmatic initiatives.
The development and completion of our Sustainability Management Plan will serve as a framework for monitoring and planning our work to achieve an enduring and resilient enterprise while considering our environmental, financial, and social obligations, risks, and opportunities.
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program (EP3)
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s Procurement Department has a goal in achieving sustainability to maximize environmental benefits of the Authority’s activities by encouraging the procurement of services and products to: integrate fiscal responsibility and environmental stewardship; reduce toxicity; reduce energy and water consumption; reuse existing products or materials in product or service life cycle; implement, integrate and maximize durability and maintenance requirements; conserve natural resources, materials and energy, and; maximize recyclability and recycled content.
The Sustainable Statement & Resource Guide is available here.
For more information or to offer feedback on environmentally preferable purchasing, please contact us at 619.400.2782 or email@example.com.
The Airport Authority works diligently to protect the natural resources on and around the airport facilities and in the surrounding community. The Airport Authority is proud to provide a protected habitat for the endangered California least tern, a migrating seabird that finds nesting opportunities along the southeastern property line of the airport. The Airport Authority also seeks to prevent, eliminate, and minimize the impacts of stormwater runoff on eel grass beds that grow in San Diego Bay near the storm drain outfalls.
The San Diego International Airport is home to the California least tern (Sterna antillarum browni, “CLT”), a federally listed endangered seabird species. The airport provides the CLT with nesting habitat and easy access to foraging opportunities in nearby San Diego Bay. There are several other nesting areas around San Diego Bay, and the Airport Authority works cooperatively with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Port of San Diego, the US Navy to protect the CLT and its habitat. Click here to learn more about the CLT.
The Airport Authority continues to work with the Port of San Diego and the San Diego Zoological Society’s Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) to monitor the CLT on the Airport Authority’s properties. Click here for more information.
San Diego International Airport is responsible for administering approximately 661 acres of public lands on the shore of San Diego Bay. The Storm Water Management Plan is a major element of the Airport's commitment to preventing, eliminating, and reducing the discharge of polluted storm water into the surrounding environment and San Diego Bay. The Stormwater Management Plan is directed at those activities of the Airport Authority itself, as well as those of the airlines and other airport tenants, that have the potential to cause stormwater pollution.
The Storm Water Management Plan is designed to control the pollutants generated by everyday operation of the airport, including: trash, litter and debris; petroleum products that might leak from aircraft and motor vehicles; heavy metals potentially contained in the dust from brake pads, rubber tires, engine exhaust; and the fertilizers and pesticides used to maintain the airport's landscape and facilities. See below for access to a copy of the Storm Water Management Plan.
The Environmental Affairs Department is responsible for ensuring implementation of the Storm Water Management Plan. The Environmental Affairs Department also works with the Airport Facilities Maintenance Department and the Facilities Development Department to make sure that the airport stormwater conveyance system is clean and operational. The Environmental Affairs Department is responsible for monitoring the quality of stormwater runoff from the Airport. In addition, the Department is responsible for the preparation of the Annual Reports.
Development and Construction
Recently, the regulations and permits related to stormwater management and control have required that best management practices (BMPs) be designed into new development and redevelopment projects. Throughout San Diego County, new development and redevelopment projects of particular types and sizes must be designed in accordance with what are known of locally as the “BMP Design Manuals” requirements. At the San Diego International Airport, Airport Authority and tenant projects that meet the project type and size criteria must be developed in accordance with the Airport Authority's BMP Design Manual.
To discuss the applicability of these requirements to your project, please call 619-400-2782 or email the Environmental Affairs department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal and state stormwater regulations have recently begun to focus on fostering more coordinated efforts among permitted entities to control regional impacts on local water bodies. Sitting on the shore of San Diego Bay, with stormwater runoff from the San Diego International Airport flowing into the Bay, the Airport Authority is working with the Port of San Diego, the County of San Diego, and the cities of Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, and San Diego to control the stormwater pollutants being generated daily within the 415 square mile San Diego Bay watershed. For additional information on these regional efforts, please visit the Project Clean Water web page for the San Diego Bay watershed.
The Industrial Activities Annual Report is submitted by July 1 of each year and describes the activities conducted to control stormwater discharges associated with industrial activities. The Municipal Activities Annual Report is submitted by January 31 of each year and describes the activities conducted to control stormwater discharges associated with municipal activities.
On January 1, 2003, the Authority became the new owner and operator of SDIA, a role previously held by the Port of San Diego. Due to this transfer of responsibility, the Airport Authority was required to obtain it's own coverage under the appropriate permits and prepare the associated documentation required as part of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program of the Clean Water Act.
As a Responsible Party within the San Diego Bay Watershed, the Airport Authority works toward improved water quality in MS4 discharges and receiving waters. Read more in The San Diego Bay Watershed Water Quality Improvement Plan.
If you spot any landscape runoff or broken sprinklers at SAN, please contact us ASAP with the incident location at 619-400-2710.
In compliance with the Regional MS4 Permit (AKA the “Municipal Stormwater Permit”), the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority prohibits over-irrigation discharges into storm drains. Over-irrigation has been found to be a source of pollutants such as nutrients, bacteria, pesticides and sediment and therefore, excessive landscape irrigation is prohibited on the airport campus. Additionally, the Authority values the conservation and protection of water as a resource. Whether the region is in a formal state of drought or not, the Authority follows the lead of our local water supply agency (the City of San Diego) and avoids wasteful practices, like over-irrigation.
The Authority works to prevent over-irrigation and the discharge of pollutants from over-irrigation in many ways. First, we don’t water when we don’t have to. The airport’s state-of-the-art weather track system collects and analyzes data from multiple weather stations to determine watering needs. The system shuts off irrigation when we have rainfall. This save approximately 9 million gallons of water in unnecessary irrigation each year and prevents us from overwatering. Second, the Authority and the Facilities Maintenance Department (FMD) have designated personnel to ensure our irrigation system is working properly. The certified irrigation technician performs inspections throughout the day to assure all systems are functioning as designed and there is no over-irrigation. Facilities Maintenance staff are available 24/7 to respond to over-irrigation incidents. If there is an incident involving excess water that cannot be easily fixed, FMD staff will shut down the entire system within an hour. FMD flags all issues and performs correct actions within 12-24 hours. Third, the Authority embraces xeriscaping, or drought-tolerant landscaping, and drip irrigation watering systems that both cut down on water usage and prevent the likelihood and occurrences of over-irrigation.
The Airport Authority engages employees, tenants, and contractors to prevent and report over-irrigation. The Communication Center, Airport Operations, Facilities Management, Planning and Environmental Affairs are trained to respond to over-irrigation. Employees and the public can report over-irrigation incidents to our Communication Center or to Environmental Affairs. Airport employees and Authority staff are informed of the over-irrigation prohibition at outreach events, all-hands meetings, and through email and tenant information notices. We encourage our employees, tenants, contractors, and the public to contact us if you spot over-irrigation on Airport premises.
Please contact us with the incident location by calling 619-400-2710 or filling out an over-irrigation contact us form.
Proper FOD (foreign object debris) management ensures that debris on the airfield does not enter our storm drains and prevents stormwater pollution. The Airport Authority’s FOD Management Plan details policies and measures put in place to ensure FOD-free operations at the San Diego International Airport. The plan outlines the practices implemented by the Airport Authority and its tenants, contractors, and subcontractors to effectively prevent and manage FOD. While FOD is a significant airfield safety and efficiency concern—proper FOD management on our airfield also supports the Authority’s extensive stormwater management program. For the most recent version of the Plan, please click here.
Stormwater GIS Data
The Airport Authority maintains Geographic Information System (GIS) layers and files used to maintain MS4 maps in compliance with Provisions E.2.b.(1), E.3.e.2.(a), E.4.b.(1), E.5.a, and F.4 of the MS4 Permit. The information generated and maintained includes GIS data layers and shapefiles related to the following can be found below:
- all segments of the MS4 owned, operated, and maintained by the Authority;
- all known locations of inlets that discharge and/or collect runoff into the Authority’s MS4;
- all known locations of connections with other MS4s not owned or operated by the Authority;
- all known locations of the MS4 outfalls and private outfalls that discharge runoff collected from areas within the Authority’s jurisdiction;
- all locations of the MS4 outfalls, identified pursuant to provision D.2.a.(1) of the Regional MS4 Permit (i.e., major outfalls that discharge directly to receiving waters);
- Priority Development Projects (PDPs) and associated structural BMPs within its jurisdiction;
- construction projects issued local permits that allow for ground disturbance or soil disturbing activities that can potentially generate pollutants in storm water runoff; and
- existing development within its jurisdiction that may discharge a pollutant load to and from the MS4;
- sampling and monitoring locations.
Stormwater Management Plan
This Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP) was prepared by the Airport Authority in accordance with the requirements of two NPDES storm water permits:
- State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Water Quality Order No. 2014-0057-DWQ, NPDES No. CAS000001, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities, referred to in this document as the Industrial Permit; and
- California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Diego Region (RWQCB), Order No. R9-2013-0001 as amended by Order No. R9-2015-0001, NPDES No. CAS0109266, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit and Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) Draining the Watersheds Within the San Diego Region, referred to in this document as the Municipal Permit.
Pursuant to these permits, the Storm Water Management Plan serves as a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) in terms of the Industrial Permit and a Jurisdictional Runoff Management Program (JRMP) document in terms of the Municipal Permit. In general, this document is a written account of the overall program to be conducted by the Airport Authority to comply with the requirements of these storm water permits.
Air Quality Management
As San Diego International Airport continues to meet the air travel demands of a growing region, the impacts of growth and development have been identified and analyzed in various studies. In an effort to continue this type of analysis and a proactive approach, an Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) has been prepared by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (Airport Authority) for San Diego International Airport. The AQMP assists the Airport Authority in meeting local, state and federal air quality regulations and contributes valuable data and analysis to the San Diego region as existing and future air quality compliance measures are addressed.
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Board approved the AQMP on December 3, 2009, as shown in the following resolution:
Click here to view the Ground Transportation Vehicle Conversion Incentive-Based Program, adopted by the Airport Authority Board on March 4, 2010.
2019 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
The Airport Authority has been conducting annual greenhouse gas emissions inventories since 2015. Based on 2019 emissions data, San Diego International Airport (SDIA) has renewed Level 3+ (“Carbon Neutrality”) in terms of Airport-controlled emissions via Airports Council International’s Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) program. SDIA is one of only two Carbon Neutral airports in North America, representing 4.8% of North American air passenger traffic. Achievement Level 3+ was outlined in the Airport Authority's 5-Year Strategic Plan.
The third-party verified ACA program is a framework that helps airports identify, manage, and ultimately reduce their carbon emissions while also effectively partnering with its business partners – such as airlines, concessions, and ground transportation operators – to lower their emissions at the Airport. In addition to reducing Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions year-over-year, the Airport Authority purchased carbon offsets via its carbon offset program called The Good Traveler to mitigate 5,847 metric tons of greenhouse gases that represent the SDIA’s 2019 Scope 1, 2, and Staff Business Travel.
- View the SDIA 2019 greenhouse gas emissions inventory here.
Annual Asbestos Reinspections
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (Authority) conducts annual reinspections of Authority-owned buildings to evaluate locations and condition of known and suspected asbestos-containing material (ACM). In accordance with the Asbestos Notification Law (California Health & Safety Code 25915 et seq.), the Authority provides informational notices to employees, tenants, and contractors working in Authority-owned buildings regarding presence, location and condition of ACM.
Asbestos becomes a health hazard only when fibers are released into the air where they may be inhaled or ingested. Asbestos does not present a hazard if it is not disturbed, if it is properly covered, or if the fibers are bound, as in floor tiles or "transite" boards.
Whenever a renovation project is proposed, an additional evaluation is conducted and project-specific notices are provided as necessary to employees and tenants in the vicinity of the work.
Environmental Review/CEQA + NEPA
All projects at San Diego International Airport must undergo environmental review as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Authority must coordinate with federal agencies on review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
In addition, since San Diego International Airport is located entirely within California's Coastal Zone, the Coastal Act of 1976 requires that any development at the airport receive a coastal development permit or an exemption from permit requirements. The Airport Authority is responsible for complying with the Coastal Act and seeks permits or permit exemptions for all development occurring at the airport.
The Airport Authority recognizes that development projects at San Diego International Airport have potential impacts on noise, transportation, water quality, endangered species and other resources. The Airport Authority takes its role as an environmental steward seriously and is committed to utilizing the environmental review process to identify and avoid or minimize impacts to the environment.
Projects requiring environmental review are included in the chart below. Past projects, such as the Master Plan, are included as well.
Naval Air Station North Island Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan – Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
The Airport Authority has prepared a Final EIR for the NASNI ALUCP. The Authority Board, acting as the ALUC, is scheduled to consider certifying the Final EIR on September 3, 2020. A copy of the document is available for review here on the San Diego International Airport website (see Final EIR links below).
NASNI ALUCP FEIR