World’s First “Green” Airport Fully Operational at Baltra, Galapagos Islands
The world’s first “green” airport is now fully operational in the Galapagos Islands, ECOGAL reported, the company that manages the airport.
The new terminal on Baltra Island became operational last December, but construction was not finalized because old terminal materials were required.
The new terminal, which consists of recycled steel tubes taken from oil drilling operations in the Amazon, is spread over 6,000 square meters and required an investment of just over $24 million. The new complex will use clean, renewable technologies such as solar energy, wind farms, and seawater desalination, among other environmental innovations.
According to ECOGAL, the construction of the new airport took into account the surrounding environment and sought to make a minimal impact on the ecosystem. The project was announced in 2008, with construction commencing in 2012. The purpose of the redevelopment from the outset was to create the world’s first ecological airport. ECOGAL was awarded a 15-year concession to administer and operate the airport.
The airport aims to achieve greater environmental quality with minimal energy dependence by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy. ECOGAL says this will be achieved by limiting the use of electricity and artificial ventilation, and relying more on renewables like sunlight and wind power.
Natural Light and Wind
The new terminal is in use only during daytime hours, and features large windows, natural lighting and light colors. Bioclimatic design considerations foster natural ventilation of the enclosure. In the few places where the natural breeze is not possible, buried air ducts are used to force ventilation through the terminal.
The new building is located in the direction of the prevailing winds to maximize ocean breezes that will lower the terminal’s interior temperature naturally, limiting the use of air conditioning and allowing greater control to regulate the amount of natural light. The terminal’s location also prevents exhaust fumes from aircraft from entering the building and reduces noise.
In addition, a photovoltaic system currently supplies 13% of the total energy demand of the terminal, with the goal that 25% of the terminal’s total energy demand will be suppled by the solar energy.
Water Desalination and Recycling
The island of Baltra has few fresh water sources and rainwater is limited. Faced with this challenge, the airport has built a seawater desalination plant that will supply fresh water to the terminal where it will be used in sinks, while recycled water will be used in toilets.
The airport, whose origins date back to World War II, receives the most passengers and planes of any Galapagos airport. With the recent expansion, the new complex can now accommodate up to 10 aircraft simultaneously on the airstrip. The airport will receive approximately 1,200 passengers a day.