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Airports Consider Energy Efficiency, Solar Power in New Designs

diaDespite a recession that has some airlines cutting services, a few airports including Yellowstone Regional Airport and Denver International Airport are moving ahead with their expansion plans that center around energy efficiency, solar power and sustainability. At the same time, other airlines are being accused of “greenwashing.”

As an example of the former, construction is set to begin on a new $5.6 million, 28,000-square-foot terminal at Yellowstone Regional Airport, that will be built using energy-efficient designs and sustainable building materials, reports the Billings Gazette.

Bob Hooper, airport manager, told the Billings Gazette the total project cost, including infrastructure, roads, parking and boarding ramp, will be about $12.4 million, with the project scheduled for completion by the end of 2010. It will be funded almost entirely through state and federal funds.

Denver International Airport is planning to build a $7 million solar electric-generating system to power its fuel storage and distribution system, reports the Star Tribune. This is in addition to its existing 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic system near the terminal.

The 1.6-megawatt project on about 9 acres north of the airfield will provide almost all the electricity needed to power the airport’s fuel farm, reports the Star Tribune. The airport will buy electricity from two solar companies, which will be contracted to build the system, for about 90 percent of the rate charged by its commercial supplier, Xcel Energy Inc., according to the newspaper. The system is expected to be completed by the end of 2009.

On the flip side, some airports are defending themselves against allegations of “greenwashing.” As an example, Westcountry airport in the UK has pledged to make its operations “carbon neutral” by next year, but officials were accused of a “greenwash” because their carbon neutral goal does not include offsetting emissions from the growing number of flights that take off and land at Westcountry’s second biggest airport, reports the Western Morning News.

Cornwall Council said it would offset carbon emissions generated by terminal and airfield operations at the Newquay airport by improving energy efficiency in Cornish homes and investing in renewable energy projects in developing countries, reports Western Morning News.

Bob Egerton, Cornwall councilor for Probus, said in the article that while he supports the idea of Cornwall Council funding the insulation of homes in the county, it is wrong to suggest that this funding will be derived from the operation of the airport. He said the money will come from the taxpayer which is “deliberate greenwash,” reports the newspaper.

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