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Nicole Hall

Senior Communications Specialist

T: 619.400.2859
M: 858.531.2863

After hours and weekends please email or call the Airport Communications Center at 858.531.2863


San Diego Now Home to World’s First LEED Platinum Certified Commercial Airport Terminal

San Diego International Airport also earns LEED Gold certification for The Green Build’s Dual-Level Roadway and USO Building

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SAN DIEGO April 9, 2014 San Diego International Airport (SAN) has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification for The Green Build terminal expansion from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED certification is considered the industry standard in defining and measuring “green,” sustainable construction, with LEED Platinum being the highest certification attainable. The award makes SAN home to the first LEED Platinum certified commercial airport terminal in the world.

LEED Platinum was awarded for the terminal portion of The Green Build, including the 460,000 square-foot expansion of Terminal 2 West and 1.3 million square feet of new aircraft apron and taxiway areas. The design/build contractor for the project was Turner/PCL/Flatiron.


“We are excited to have the first commercial airport terminal in the world to achieve LEED Platinum certification!” said Thella F. Bowens, President/CEO of the Airport Authority.  “A minimum of LEED Silver certification is the standard for all new construction projects at the airport, but Platinum for a project of this significance exemplifies this organization’s deep commitment to sustainable building practices.”

“San Diego International Airport’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and The Green Build serves as a prime example with just how much we can accomplish.”

Sustainable elements of the terminal and airside improvements include:

·        Solar energy

o   On-site renewable energy – Solar panels being installed have the capability of producing one megawatt of electricity to the building (12.5 percent of the terminal’s projected annual energy use).

·        Water conservation

o   Low-flow water fixtures – Low-flow fixtures will save the airport approximately 4 million gallons of water annually.

o   Drought-tolerant landscaping – Landscaping incorporates a variety of indigenous and drought-tolerant plants, shrubs and ground cover, minimizing watering needs.

·        Energy conservation

o   Natural light – Wherever possible, natural light (versus artificial) was leveraged to illuminate the building interior; indoor spaces incorporate natural daylight and exterior views, including six of the eight public restrooms. The front of the building is made up almost entirely of windows, providing natural light for the ticket lobby, baggage carousel area and security checkpoint. Sunset Cove, the new concessions area, features floor-to-ceiling windows with high-performance glazing looking out on the airfield, which flood the seating area with natural sunlight during the day.

o   Energy-efficiency – Energy-efficient lighting and equipment was used in locations needed for passenger processing.

o   Reflective roof – Reflective rooftops were used to minimize the building’s heat absorption and reduce air conditioning needs.

o   Lighting/HVAC controls – These utilize technology allowing for more efficient energy usage throughout the terminal.

o   Reduction in aircraft on-the-ground energy usage – Power and preconditioned air units at the 10 new gates result in a reduced need for aircraft auxiliary power units and/or ground power units.

·        Storm water pollution prevention

o   The airfield storm drain filtration system is designed to remove 80 percent of the total suspended solids that accumulate on airfield pavements, preventing them from entering San Diego Bay.

·        Air quality

o   The terminal achieved improved indoor environmental quality through the use of low volatile organic compound adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings. 

“From the outset, The Green Build was designed with an eye toward the environment,” said Dan McGuckin, operations manager for Turner Construction Company. “Not only were we able to reduce our environmental footprint during the construction process, but we’ve constructed a new terminal that will be 32 percent more energy efficient than the standard code. We’re extremely proud of that.” 

From the beginning, the overall construction process for The Green Build was designed to be green. For instance, 54,000 tons of construction material waste—more than 95 percent—was diverted from landfills, much of it recycled or reused on site. Materials for the project were sourced, whenever possible, from within 500 miles of the airport, minimizing fuel usage and emissions in materials delivery. And construction teams used alternative-fuel equipment as part of the construction process, reducing on-site fuel usage and emissions.

In addition, LEED Gold certification was achieved for the portion of the project which included the terminal’s roadway system, new dual-level roadway, curbside check-in and USO building. The design/build contractor for the project was Kiewit/Sundt.

Sustainable elements in this portion of the project include:

·        Water conservation

o   Drought-tolerant landscaping – Landscaping incorporates a variety of indigenous and drought-tolerant plants, shrubs and ground cover, minimizing watering needs.

o   Water reuse – Storm water runoff from the parking lot and other paved permeable surfaces drains into numerous bioswales located throughout the landscape areas to irrigate plantings.

·        Energy conservation

o   Natural light – Wherever possible, natural light (versus artificial) was leveraged. For example, the curbside check-in area is located outside, minimizing lighting needs during daytime hours.

o   Naturally ventilated check-in pavilions – Taking advantage of San Diego’s temperate climate, the ventilated pavilions eliminate the need for heating/cooling /HVAC on the dual-level roadway.

o   Energy Star equipment – Used in various locations to reduce energy usage.

o   Support for alternative fuel vehicles – The parking lot includes electrical charging stations for electric vehicles.

“The Green Build is the poster child for sustainability and environmental stewardship,” said Mike Lowe, project director for Kiewit/Sundt. “This project’s sustainability innovations, such as the use of pervious pavements and recycling of construction materials, should be modeled by other airports, and we are proud to be a part of a project that is so committed to minimizing its impact on the environment.”

Among the numerous contractors and designers who worked on The Green Build are Turner/PCL/Flatiron, Kiewit/Sundt, HNTB, URS, AECOM, and LEED experts: AEC and Drew George & Partners.

The Green Build’s LEED certifications build on San Diego International Airport’s already robust sustainability efforts. The airport was the first in the U.S. to establish a sustainability policy, the first to publish a sustainability report adhering to Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards and recently became the first airport to sign the U.S. Climate Declaration, calling for action on climate change.

For more information about The Green Build, visit For more on the airport’s overall sustainability efforts, visit or view the airport’s GRI sustainability report at For more information on LEED, visit

The $907 million Green Build project was completed on time and approximately $45 million under budget.

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