HNTB-designed terminal earns world’s first LEED Platinum certification for a commercial airport

San Diego — The Green Build terminal expansion at San Diego International Airport – designed by HNTB Corporation – has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the world’s first commercial airport terminal to earn the highest certification available for sustainable construction.

HNTB provided the initial planning, lead architectural and engineering services for the 460,000-square-foot expansion of the San Diego International Airport Terminal 2 West – branded as The Green Build – adding or renovating a total of 20 gates and designing the airport’s new retail and food atrium among many other interior enhancements. A related airside expansion included 1.3 million square feet of new aircraft apron and taxiway areas.

The San Diego Terminal 2 Building and Airside Expansion Project has been honored recently with numerous local, regional and national awards for its innovative design and LEED Platinum certification.

Design began in 2009, followed by construction preparation in 2011. The ribbon-cutting for the new terminal took place on Aug. 13, 2013. HNTB and a joint venture of Turner Construction, PCL Construction and Flatiron held the design-build contract to deliver the expanded terminal, airside paving and central utility projects.

“Working closely with the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, HNTB implemented sustainable design features early in the process to meet the stringent LEED certification rating criteria,” said Tom Rossbach, AIA, ACI, HNTB director aviation architecture. “This is a great accomplishment for the community of San Diego, the airport and our firm and design-build partners.”

HNTB incorporated green design elements during the planning phase of the project to achieve LEED Gold certification before the terminal opened, and incorporated additional elements during construction to meet LEED Platinum certification requirements. HNTB’s sustainable design features include:

  • Solar panels that can provide one megawatt of electricity to the building, accounting for 12.5 percent of the terminal’s electrical needs
  • Low-flow water fixtures that can save the airport 4 million gallons of water annually
  • Windows and natural shading to leverage sunlight inside the terminal to minimize energy consumption
  • HVAC system, variable-speed pumps and chillers, and highly efficient motors for the baggage handling system to greatly reduce power usage
  • Preconditioned air and 400 Hz gate power to eliminate the need for aircraft to burn auxiliary power unit engines at gates to reduce gas emissions


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