Green Flies High at California Airport

Green Flies High at California Airport

Efforts to green the Mineta San Jose International Airport, where a $1 billion-plus expansion project is under way, are already paying off.

So say the airport and some of its major vendors in the project.

Deployment of high-performance energy efficiency software to manage the airport's HVAC system, coupled with an addition and an upgrade to the facility's array of chillers, have yielded more than $35,000 in savings from utility costs in the first five months of operation.

The measures have also saved 235,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and reduced the carbon footprint for the facility by almost 300,000 pounds of CO2 during the same period, according to Optimum Energy, the provider of the software solution, and the airport.

Mineta San Jose International Airport's vision of its new Terminal B. Image courtesy of the airport
The work on the chiller system, overseen by the WSP Flack + Kurtz engineering services firm, included adding a new 1,100-ton chiller unit at the facility's central plant and upgrading two 450-ton chillers by installing variable frequency drives and readjusting air handling units.

The OptimumLOOP efficiency management software was put in place after the upgrades were complete. Since system has been online, the chiller plant has reduced its average kW/ton from 1.23 kW/ton to 0.65 kW/ton, a 47 percent reduction.
An artist's rendering of the new North Concourse for Terminal B. Image courtesy of the airport
The airport is undertaking a major overhaul that includes construction of a new terminal, road improvements and remodeling of its existing Terminal A.

Work on the new section, which will be a new Terminal B with an adjoining concourse, and demolition of Terminal C are scheduled for completion in 2010.

The project to revamp Terminal A got a boost in March, when the facility was awarded a $4.6 million grant to install airport and ground service equipment under the Federal Aviation Administration's Voluntary Airport Low Emissions Program, which has a goal of improving air quality.

Other improvements at the airport include installation of new thin-panel lighted signs that are more energy efficient without compromising legibility. The airport chose high tech signs that are designed by local firm Silicon Constellations of Santa Clara, feature its Noveseo light modules and have Luxeon technology by Philips Lumileds at their core.

The signs are two-sided, four inches deep -- about half the depth of conventional signs -- and are now the thinnest on the market. A case study on the signs designed for airport is available here. The technology used in the signs has been shown to reduce energy consumption by more than 70 percent compared to standard signs that use fluorescent or neon backlighting.
A super-thin airport sign. Image courtesy of the airport and Philips
The first batch of signs were installed at an outdoor ground transportation island at the airport. Three hundred will be built and installed at the facility.

The project to expand the airport and make its operations more environmentally responsible is part of San Jose's broader effort to green the city.

A key element of Mayor Chuck Reed's sweeping 10-point Green Vision calls for the green construction or retrofitting of 50 million square feet of building space by 2022.
San Jose City Hall Image courtesy of the City of San Jose
San Jose celebrated progress toward that goal last month when its City Hall, which encompasses 700,000 square feet, became the first to achieve a LEED-Platinum rating for existing buildings.