California State University East Bay

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California State University East Bay

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California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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San Jose and Oakland Airports Going Green

At a time when everyone wants to go green, Bay Area airports have taken the initiative by implementing eco-friendly environmental changes, according to Oakland and San Jose International airports.

Emissions released from buildings have caused both airports to install solar panels, said Port of Oakland Assistant Environmental Scientist Colleen Liang.

In particular, Oakland International (OAK) and Mineta San Jose International (SJC) started the transformation by using renewable and reusable energy, Liang added.

“Oakland International Airport is focused on operating our business smarter, economically and in an environmentally friendly way,” said Omar Benjamin, executive director of Port of Oakland.

Since 2007, Oakland International Airport has developed and implemented a state-of-the-art solar power system projected to prevent more than 17 million pounds of emissions over the next 20 years, said Benjamin.

“San Jose International has redefined technology, installing cutting edge solar panels that will eliminate more than 56 million pounds of emissions over the same 20 years,” said David Vossbrink, communications director at Mineta San Jose International airport.

“SJC has done a substantial job focusing on and minimizing the release of greenhouse gases,” said Jill Riggins, California Air National Guard environmentalist.

Mineta San Jose International is considered the most technically advanced airport in the United States, said Vossbrink.

Together, both airports will help remove more than 86 million pounds of greenhouse gasses in the environment, he added.

Over the last two years, both airports began requiring their taxis, shuttles, and bus fleets to switch from diesel gasoline to compressed natural gas as well as altering the ways planes are taxied and fueled to help condense the release of carbon dioxide.

Oakland requires at least 50 percent of all taxis to be either hybrids or utilize compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel, according to the airport’s communications department. It also reports that 64 percent of all parking shuttles currently use CNG.

Mineta San Jose International Airport requires 25 percent of all taxis to use CNG instead of regular fuel, according to the airport’s environmental documentation.

On the other hand, SJC has mandated that the entire shuttle bus fleet, comprised of 34 vehicles, switch from diesel to CNG fuel, said Vossbrink.

Not only does CNG cost $1.50 less than a regular gallon of gasoline, CNG-fueled vehicles emit 70 percent less carbon monoxide than gasoline-powered cars, he added.

Whether planes are waiting for passengers to load or unload, or taxiing to and from runways to gates, the planes release massive amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that has contributed to global warming and climate change,” said Liang.

Consequently, each airport has established an alternative to minimize emissions, she said.

Oakland enables the plane to “plug in” at the gate. Once the plane arrives, instead of using its own auxiliary power units to generate electricity, they simply “plug in,” using energy from Oakland and reducing emissions, said Liang.

San Jose operates differently. It requires planes to shut off one engine while taxiing, and, once the plane arrives at the gate, the plane shuts off, reducing emissions being powered by San Jose, said Vossbrink.

“OAK is proud to be a leader among U.S. airports that are focused on environmental initiatives,” said Liang. “We will continue to evaluate facilities and operations, with a goal of reducing environmental impacts.”

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