Community Articles

Northside Improvements Ease Congestion

While SAN’s new Rental Car Center was built with sustainability in mind…

Keeping the Community Informed

One of the Airport Authority’s five key strategies is focused on the community…

Noise Mitigation Efforts Help Promote Neighborhood Sustainability

We know it’s not always easy living close to a busy airport, especially one that’s bordered on…

Planning for Climate Change

While SAN’s new Rental Car Center was built with sustainability in mind…

Getting a Handle on Waste

One of the more significant challenges the Airport Authority faces is managing waste from a variety of sources…

Airport Authority Works to Enhance Quality of Storm Water Discharges

The Airport Authority has implemented several strategies to ensure pollutants from…

SAN Celebrates National Aviation History Month

San Diego International Airport (SAN) has a unique place in aviation history…

San Diego International Airport puts carbon offsets on the menu with The Good Traveler program

San Diego International Airport (SAN) has launched The Good Traveler, a pilot program designed to encourage…

Northside Improvements Ease Congestion

While SAN’s new Rental Car Center was built with sustainability in mind – it’s a candidate for LEED Silver certification – it’s very location and operational strategies also bring sustainable benefits to the community.

 

The previous rental car area was on North Harbor Drive, near the main entrances to the terminals. The new facility is on the north side of the airport, away from most of the arriving and departing vehicle traffic on North Harbor Drive. This has dramatically reduced rental car traffic on the main roadways, as well as the number of shuttle buses competing with passengers getting to and from the airport.

 

Not only did we pull most of the shuttles off North Harbor Drive, we actually reduced the total number of rental car shuttles from 81 down to 25 – with all of them operating on a newly built interior airport roadway. Most of the new shuttle buses burn alternative fuels.

This has dramatically reduced rental car traffic on the main roadways, as well as the number of shuttle buses competing with passengers getting to and from the airport.
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Keeping the Community Informed

One of the Airport Authority’s five key strategies is focused on the community: Striving to be a trusted and highly responsive regional agency. As such, communication with the public is an important aspect of what we do at the airport, and we take this responsibility seriously.

 

Outreach is about more than just sending emails or making calls. Board members and staff are frequently out in the community, talking to residents about airport programs and initiatives. The Airport Development Plan (ADP) and North Side Development Program are two examples of projects where robust public outreach helped ensure the community was informed and had an opportunity to provide feedback.

 

After the Terminal 2 Green Build expansion opened in 2013, attention turned to replacing the nearly 50-year-old Terminal 1. That’s where the ADP comes in. The airport launched a comprehensive public outreach campaign to raise awareness of the ADP’s goals and gather public input.

 

The Airport Authority hosted 1,000 attendees at 100 meetings, reached nearly 7,000 readers through its print and electronic newsletters, and secured 135 media placements. Feedback was uniformly positive and encouraging, and helped staff finalize a plan that was approved unanimously by the Airport Authority Board in the fall of 2015.

 

The north side projects, designed to maximize efficient utilization of SAN’s limited acreage and modernize its functions, included a new Fixed-Base Operator facility for private aircraft, a new Receiving and Distribution Center, and a consolidated Rental Car Center. These projects all involved major construction activities, so SAN’s community outreach campaign sought to keep neighbors and other stakeholders informed and provide a channel for public concerns and complaints. In all cases, the Airport Authority has strived to minimize any negative impacts of these new facilities on the local community, both during construction and ongoing operations.

 

Outreach included briefings for elected officials, presentations to business and community groups, media relations, website content, social media, and electronic and printed newsletters.

 

To date, those objectives have been achieved, with the community – our partner – understanding and supporting the north side projects, each one of which has come online to accolades and each one of which has enhanced the overall operation and efficiency of San Diego International Airport.

Noise Mitigation Efforts Help Promote Neighborhood Sustainability

We know it’s not always easy living close to a busy airport, especially one that’s bordered on all sides by bustling, mixed-use neighborhoods and also the city’s urban core.

 

That’s why programs that promote neighborhood sustainability such as the Quieter Home Program are vital to the airport’s mission of connecting with neighbors and being a good community partner.

 

The Quieter Home Program is a hallmark of the Airport Authority’s commitment to maintaining and improving the quality of life for our neighbors. We were very excited to celebrate a major milestone in 2015 – the 3,000 home to be retrofitted under this program.

 

For the past 14 years, this program has reduced aircraft noise inside homes east and west of the airport, including Bankers Hill, Point Loma, Little Italy, and Ocean Beach communities, which lie under the approach and departure corridors for our busy single-runway airport.

 

The Quieter Home Program typically achieves interior noise reductions of at least five decibels, meeting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) noise level reduction guidelines.

 

This is accomplished through a partnership with the FAA, the City of San Diego and our neighbors.

 

The program customizes a design for each home, and may include special sound-attenuating doors and windows and new ventilation systems that reduce noise levels from arriving and departing aircraft overhead.

 

Other efforts to address noise-mitigation objectives include extensive monitoring and stakeholder outreach, including our Airport Noise Advisory Committee which advises the Airport Authority Board and consists of elected officials, industry partners such as airlines and local municipalities, airport staff, and community members.

 

Airlines and aircraft manufacturers are also key pieces of the noise-mitigation puzzle. Airlines are shifting to a business model that favors fewer flights utilizing larger aircraft with fewer empty seats than ever before.

 

Aircraft manufacturers are developing quieter planes and experimenting with other innovative solutions, such as the vortex generator – a small piece of equipment that is placed on the underside of Airbus aircraft, requiring little investment for major noise savings.

 

Although the outcome is not yet known, a potential challenge we face is the FAA’s proposal for flight procedure changes dubbed the “SoCal Metroplex.” This is part of the ongoing implementation of NextGen, a national program involving the transition from ground-based to satellite-based navigation and surveillance, as well as other upgrades, to increase the efficiency of the airspace system.

 

The SoCal Metroplex, which is still under review, would involve changes to the flight procedures around the airport. We are committed to closely monitoring any resultant changes in noise levels or patterns to help protect our neighbors and the residents of San Diego.

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Planning for Climate Change

At the Airport Authority, we are closely monitoring the potential impacts of climate change that could impact our ability to operate SAN.

 

The Airport Authority developed an airport-wide hydrologic model and flood vulnerability assessment in 2015, which illustrates future potential flood conditions and accounts for future storm surge and sea level rise. These climate impacts are expected to significantly exacerbate airport flood risk by the year 2050.

 

It’s important to note that some of our most critical infrastructure, including Runway 9-27, most taxiways, and the Air Traffic Control Tower, are not at risk of flooding. However, many other airport facilities are believed to be moderately or highly vulnerable to periods of inundation.

 

The airport’s Water Stewardship Plan includes multiple resilience-focused actions which we will undertake in coming years, from developing resilient design guidelines for new infrastructure and landscape projects, to updating our emergency planning and response procedures to reflect emerging climate risks.

 

We are also partnering with other agencies and organizations on climate adaptation planning. The Airport Authority is on the Steering Committee of the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, which seeks to advance comprehensive solutions to facilitate climate change planning, and we engage closely with our peers in the region to ensure that airport interests are represented in multi-agency adaptation planning activities.

 

Climate change brings warmer temperatures, which mean increased demand for cooling and air conditioning, along with rising sea levels. In November 2015, sea levels in San Diego Bay reached an all-time high.

 

The airport’s storm water conveyance system, like all such systems throughout the city, is vulnerable to both flooding and pollutant discharges. These pose significant regulatory risks that can impact airport operations. Paradoxically, as we face ongoing drought, we are also experiencing more intense storm events that not only exacerbate our flood risk, but also degrade our surface and groundwater quality.

Climate change brings warmer temperatures, which mean increased demand for cooling and air conditioning, along with rising sea levels. In November 2015, sea levels in San Diego Bay reached an all-time high.
Golden sunlight reflecting from the cliffs north of Scripps Pier in La Jolla, California, looking towards Blacks Beach and Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
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Getting a Handle on Waste

One of the more significant challenges the Airport Authority faces is managing waste from a variety of sources, including food services, administrative offices, inbound and outbound flights, and more.

 

The Airport Authority has achieved competitive waste diversion rates since the inception of our single stream recycling program, which allows us to collect paper, glass, plastic, cardboard, and metals. In addition, we have recently expanded our pre-consumer food waste recycling program to include all concessionaires. We achieved a 95 percent waste recycling and reuse rate for construction and demolition materials from the Terminal 2 Green Build project.

 

Construction and demolition materials from the Green Build, along with the Rental Car Center, contributed to our increased recycling waste from 1,171 tons in 2013, to 90,463 tons in 2015.

 

The Airport Authority has been recognized for waste reduction and recycling achievements through numerous award programs, including the Governor’s Environmental & Economic Leadership (GEELA) Awards, the North San Diego Business Chamber’s Sustainability Champion of the Year Award, and the City of San Diego’s Recycler of the Year Award, which we have received nine times.

 

Despite our successes, significant opportunities exist to improve our performance by streamlining waste recovery services across the entire airport enterprise. In particular, our 2015 waste characterization report found that our recycling stream is contaminated by non-recyclable waste. Our contamination rate suggests that we would benefit from better training, signage, and engagement of our employees, tenants, and passengers to maximize waste diversion and recovery.

 

To support our aspirational goal of becoming a “zero waste” facility, we have convened a Waste Reduction Team to engage stakeholders across our operations in recovering a greater share of our waste streams generated in airport facilities and flight operations.

Airport Authority Works to Enhance Quality of Storm Water Discharges

The Airport Authority has implemented several strategies to ensure pollutants from storm water discharges are minimized.

 

The airport’s storm water discharges are currently regulated by three permits: the Municipal (MS4), Industrial and Construction General Permits. A new, more stringent MS4 permit was recently adopted in 2013, and the airport is also required to implement the San Diego Bay Watershed Management Area Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP).

 

The primary pollutants that could run off from storm water into San Diego Bay are zinc and copper. Zinc originates from roofing materials and galvanized fencing, while airport operations, such as tire and brake pad wear from aircraft and vehicle traffic, generate copper residue. The Airport Authority’s strategies to address copper and zinc identified in the WQIP, include:

 

  • Increase sweeping on the runway, taxiways, and airfield service roads;
  • Implement green infrastructure and treatment systems;
  • Increase tenant training, inspections and catch basin cleaning;
  • Perform public outreach and participation; and
  • Conduct runway rubber removal and power washing.

 

The outcomes of strategies implemented in the WQIP will help the Airport Authority comply with both the Industrial and Municipal permits.

 

Two recent examples of green infrastructure implementation on the north side of the airfield are:

 

  • The 16-acre Economy parking lot opened in June 2014. The project included installation of 12 modular wetland treatment systems to address heavy metals, including copper and zinc, and other pollutants.
  • A new consolidated Rental Car Center that opened in early 2016. Storm water treatment controls were incorporated into the 25-acre project site, including a total of 1.25 acres of bioretention swales to address heavy metals, including copper and zinc, and other pollutants. Seven bioswale ponds are located around the building that collect rain and water runoff used in operations.

 

Our Water Stewardship Plan includes multiple actions that support our water quality goals, from leveraging enhanced water sampling technologies to creating design requirements that are directly aligned with our water quality objectives.

SAN Celebrates National Aviation History Month

San Diego International Airport (SAN) has a unique place in aviation history. Did you know:

 

  • SAN was founded in 1928.
  • SAN was the first federally certified airfield in the U.S. to serve all aircraft types.
  • Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis airplane, which he used to make his famous trans-Atlantic flight, was built and tested in San Diego.

 

In November 2015, SAN celebrated its rich history during National Aviation History Month with a public information campaign to increase awareness of the airport’s history and future plans for development. The campaign included:

 

  • A special supplement to the San Diego Business Journal that wove the past, present and future of SAN into the past, present and future of our region;
  • A historic exhibit displayed in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, which featured a timeline of SAN’s history, beginning with 1927 to the present and beyond;
  • A caption-writing contest on the airport’s three social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The three-week contest involved the posting of a local historic photograph and an invitation for followers to submit a creative caption. Winners of the contest received four tickets to the USS Midway Museum.
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The Good Traveler Program

San Diego International Airport puts carbon offsets on the menu with The Good Traveler program

San Diego International Airport (SAN) has launched The Good Traveler, a pilot program designed to encourage sustainable travel by enabling individuals to offset the environmental impact of their journey in an affordable, easy and meaningful way.

 

Through The Good Traveler program, individuals can purchase carbon offsets and merchandise online at www.thegoodtraveler.org or at select locations, with proceeds going toward conservation projects that help counteract the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment.

 

For $1, travelers can buy a collectible Good Traveler tag or sticker that can be placed on a bag, laptop or phone cover. The purchase will offset 500 miles of air travel or 200 miles of driving, with 100 percent of proceeds going into three projects: a forest restoration project in California, a wind farm project in Idaho, and a water restoration project in the Colorado Delta.

 

Since its inception, The Good Traveler program has offset more than 2 million miles of air travel.