DEN develops sustainability initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint

Posted: 3 September 2021 | | No comments yet

Denver International Airport has outlined long-term sustainability initiatives, to assist the decrease of airport operation’s impact on the environment and its carbon footprint.

DEN develops sustainability initiatives to reduce carbon footprint

Considering the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the recent wildfire-related air quality challenges in Colorado, Denver International Airport (DEN) has developed initiatives to help reduce the environmental impacts of airport operations over the next five years.

“DEN has always been committed to sustainability and has many great programmes already in place, but we can do more,” said Phillip Washington, CEO of Denver International. “Our five-year plan focuses on a variety of new efforts that supplement the work we are already doing, supporting Mayor Hancock’s climate action agenda, and continue to improve environmental performance across all aspects of our operations. This is part of our new Vision 100 plan to take our sustainability efforts to the next level and to become one of the greenest airports in the world as we plan for 100 million annual passengers in the future.”

In response to the ongoing environmental challenges, DEN has developed a comprehensive set of projects to reduce environmental impacts that the airport would like to implement over the next five years:

  • Accelerate existing plans to permanently cease oil and gas operations at the airport by plugging the wells that have been inactive since 2018
  • Implement deep energy and water retrofits across the existing airport facility, including LED lighting upgrades, heating and cooling improvements, and water reduction across DEN restrooms
  • Open four sustainably designed, high-performance concourse expansion projects that are certified to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold level.
  • Construct and energise additional solar arrays and investigate battery storage opportunities to power the airport’s growth with electricity that is low-carbon, cost-effective, reliable, and resilient
  • Plan for the transition to electric vehicles and install additional charging stations for passengers, employees, transportation providers, and the DEN fleet
  • Improve recycling and composting infrastructure to make reducing trash easier for customers and business partners, which may include elements such as new recycling bins, better signage, and additional partnerships with our concessionaires
  • Build a new closed-loop aircraft de-icing fluid recycling plant to localise and strengthen the supply chain and reduce costs and environmental impacts. Currently, DEN collects and recycles approximately one million gallons of de-icing fluid each year to save money and reduce wastewater generation

These new initiatives will support the goals and policies set by Mayor Hancock to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent by 2050 and to further electrify our transportation system to reduce the impact of cars on climate change and transition the city to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2030, including all city government buildings and facilities by 2025. 

Scott Morrissey, DEN Senior Vice President of Sustainability commented: “Denver International Airport works hard to be a sustainability leader within the aviation industry. We’re excited to announce these proposed initiatives that reduce costs, improve environmental performance, and support the communities we serve. They will also allow us to build upon our existing success as we grow to improve economic competitiveness and create value for our residents and neighbours.”

DEN’s existing sustainability efforts

  • One of the largest and most diversified solar energy programmes of any airport in the world, including Community Solar Gardens, solar purchasing agreements, and hosting four solar arrays that directly interconnect to DEN’s electric meters and generate over 15 million kWh of electricity – eight per cent of DEN’s annual use
  • Over 50 electric vehicle charging stations for passengers and employees
  • Liquid dumping stations pre-security and water bottle filling stations post-security to reduce the need for single-use water bottles
  • Single-stream recycling bins in all public areas of the airport
  • Over 40 concessions certified through the City of Denver’s Certifiably Green Denver business programme
  • Passenger loading gates are equipped with power and pre-conditioned air equipment to prevent aircraft engine idling and reduce emissions
  • An award-winning programme that facilitates the donation of thousands of pounds of food from DEN concessions to a local non-profit, to reduce waste and support food-insecure Denver families

In addition to these programmes, DEN was also the first commercial service airport in the U.S. with an ISO 14001-certified Environmental Management System covering all operations, as well as a long-time Gold Level leader within the state of Colorado’s Environmental Leadership programme. DEN currently has four-LEED certificated facilities including the LEED Platinum Hotel and Transit Centre, and the LEED Gold Concourse C West expansion and Fire Station 35.

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