Alabama Airport Touts Energy Efficient Features and LEED Gold Certification

The operators of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) have set many energy efficient goals for themselves, all of which have helped to earn the aviation hub a LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

BHM leaders approved a new terminal and the installation of an all-electric, high-efficiency HVAC system, sophisticated building automation systems, increased insulation and energy-efficient light fixtures, escalators, elevators and windows.

The energy efficient improvements within the new terminal are paying off. In January, 2011, the gas and electric bill for the old terminal totaled $129,374. The new terminal, which is 185,000 square feet larger, had a total energy bill amounting to approximately $32,000 less.

Other sustainable and efficient aspects of the new terminal include a solar water heating system, a rainwater harvesting system, the use of regionally sourced and recycled materials, and recycling more than 97 percent of construction waste from the project.

The terminal also houses a 1,400-foot “living wall” — the largest in any U.S. airport — which helps improve air quality inside the terminal. Outside of the terminal, emission-free, electric ground support vehicles help reduce air pollution.

Mike Thompson, director of facilities at the airport, said the modernized terminal is meeting the objectives set out by the airport’s leadership, and the design and construction teams: to create an inviting, functional and user-friendly facility that is also energy efficient, easy to maintain, and a source of pride for the community.

Other U.S.-based airports have also taken the initiative to become more energy efficient. Delta County, Michigan, is making various energy efficient improvements to its airport, which will save the county $11,302 annually. And last year, the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission committed to solar power by contracting with Syncarpha Capital, a solar energy equipment supplier.

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