Inside San Francisco Airport’s Triple Zero Plan

How SFO will achieve energy, waste and carbon neutrality by 2021

Kicking off a five-year strategic plan, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) recently partnered with the Northern California branch of the USGBC to announce its journey to becoming the world’s first “triple zero” airport campus. By 2021, the airport will achieve zero net energy, carbon neutrality and zero waste-to-landfill, according to SFO’s Chief Development Officer Geoff Neumayr.

“We have a 5,000-acre campus with an asset portfolio of over 14.5 million square feet across nearly 70 buildings that currently consume 440 GWh of energy each year,” Neumayr explains. “If we can get to zero, what’s stopping others?”

Achieving triple zero will be no easy feat. SFO is one of the fastest-growing airports in the U.S. and serves 53 million passengers every year. However, despite the constant growth, the airport’s emissions have already decreased by 33% since 1990, and the last three years have seen a 12% drop in water use and a 5% reduction in natural gas, saving roughly $650,000 in utility costs annually. To reach zero net energy, the airport will comply with strict energy use intensity (EUI) targets for all capital projects, which will require the use of advanced energy technologies and innovative design. The current terminals have an operational EUI of 170-180 kBTU per square foot per year, but the new Terminal 1 will have a 50-60 EUI thanks to strategies like displacement ventilation, radiant heating and cooling, dynamic glazing, regenerative elevators, heat recovery readiness and a high-efficiency baggage handling system.

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