Why Isn’t the Nation’s Busiest Airport Sustainable?

by | Dec 19, 2017

Credit: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport


The massive blackout over the weekend at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport had many people wondering why the nation’s busiest airport isn’t equipped to handle such an issue.

In fact, the aviation hub does have a switch for backup power, but that switch was engulfed in the underground fire that caused the airport’s blackout. This leaves even more questions about the design of such sustainability and backup measures.

As thedeailybest.com states:

But of course this does not explain the glaring problem that has surprised and shocked national security experts: Why could a failure at one power source automatically knock out the supply to a whole airport? Why were there no backup systems to keep the essential services at the airport functioning? Why were there no emergency generators ready to cut in as they are, for example, at hospitals? Why was there no power for the most basic systems, not even lighting for the terminals, leaving passengers and airport staff in the dark at gates and security checkpoints?

As former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tweeted: “I am stuck on @delta flight, passengers and crew tolerating it. But there is no excuse for lack of workable redundant power source. NONE!”

Hartsfield-Jackson’s Sustainability and Efficiency in the News

Atlanta’s airport is renowned for its energy efficiency and sustainability measures. In fact, last year, Hartsfield-Jackson’s energy management program won an Environmental Leader Award. The judges called it “a great example of how an airport can use data to manage both consumption and cost of energy as well as setting goals that move the airport industry forward.”

And in October, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport announced it will finally move forward on a project to develop and operate a recycling facility onsite that will help reduce airport costs in terms of waste; the project has been delayed for years due to a variety of problems, including recyclable material that was too contaminated with garbage, a lack of qualified responses from companies to develop the facility, and incorrectly submitted forms from companies pitching for the contract. Now, however, Hartsfield-Jackson has selected a company – Green Energy and Development Inc. – to develop and operate the “Green Acres” facility on 30 acres of property on the south side of the airport, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Even with its ambitious efficiency and sustainability initiatives, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport leaves many, including energy experts, questioning how such an important global aviation hub can go completely without power for so long.


Mark your calendars: The 3rd Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference takes place May 15 – 17, 2018 in Denver. Learn more here.


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