San Diego’s Sustainable Progress: A City Committed to Renewable Energy and Environmental Stewardship

San Diego Airport Water Sustainable

(Credit: San Diego International Airport)

by | Feb 10, 2023

San Diego Airport Water Sustainable

(Credit: San Diego International Airport)

San Diego is widely considered one of the greenest cities in the US for not only its commitment to using renewable energy sources and its focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but the city is a leader in solar power production. This shift towards renewable energy sources has not only helped reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions but has also created new economic opportunities and green jobs. San Diego is recognized for its strong concentration of clean technology jobs, which is twice the national average. The city’s Climate Resilient SD plan addresses the impacts of climate change and prioritizes the needs of underrepresented communities.

The city’s commitment to sustainability is supported by the active engagement of its citizens, with over 3,300 residents sharing their thoughts and concerns to shape San Diego’s Climate Action Plan. Recycling is also a big part of the daily lives of the city’s residents and businesses, with hotels making a concerted effort to minimize energy waste and maximize recycling efforts. As a result of its recycling and green waste collection programs, the city has already surpassed its 2020 goal of diverting 75% of waste from landfills. The food scraps and green waste collected is even being transformed into valuable landscape products.

Additional Initiatives Include: 

  • Sustainable Transportation: The city is promoting sustainable transportation options, such as biking and public transportation, to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and improve air quality. The city has installed bike lanes, expanded its public transportation system, and implemented bike-sharing programs.
  • Water Conservation: San Diego is facing a serious water shortage and has implemented a number of water conservation initiatives, including rebates for low-flow toilets and showerheads, drought-resistant landscaping, and educational programs to promote water conservation.
  • Clean Energy: The City of San Diego is working to increase its use of clean energy, such as solar and wind power, and has set a goal of sourcing 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2035. The city may actually hit its target well before this date.
  • Green Building: Promotion of green building practices through its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, which provides incentives for developers to construct buildings that are energy and resource-efficient.
  • Environmental Education: San Diego is educating its residents about sustainability through a variety of programs, such as beach cleanups, tree planting events, and educational workshops.

Sustainability at San Diego International Airport

In 2022, San Diego Airport captured more than 800,000 gallons of stormwater which was then used for heating and cooling the airport buildings. The stormwater is collected from the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza and stored in underground pipes with a capacity of 100,000 gallons. This effort helps conserve water and reduces the airport’s impact on the environment.

“Through the capturing and reusing of stormwater, the Airport Authority can meet strict stormwater pollution prevention regulations by keeping stormwater on-site rather than discharging to San Diego Bay,” authority President and CEO Kimberly Becker said. “In addition, capturing and reusing supports the airport authority’s sustainability goals to reduce potable water use for non-potable purposes and most importantly to be good environmental stewards.”

After the stormwater is captured it’s treated through a series of filters and ultraviolet light before treated water is then pumped to a central utility plant and utilized in the cooling towers for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of the airport terminals and jet bridges. The system, which started in 2018, has so far captured, treated, and reused over 5 million gallons of stormwater, reducing the airport’s reliance on freshwater sources and reducing its environmental footprint.

Further, the Airport is expanding its stormwater reuse system with the addition of two cisterns, located on the north and south side of the airport campus. The new cisterns are expected to increase the system’s capacity up to 4.5 million gallons. In 2021, a 3-million-gallon cistern was built and will eventually be connected to the Rental Car Center, where the recycled water will be used to wash cars. Currently, the captured water is utilized for vegetation and landscaping on the north side of the airport.

As part of the new Terminal 1 project, the San Diego International Airport is building a 1.5-million-gallon cistern on the south side of the campus, with a projected completion date of 2024. The captured water will be used in the cooling towers and also for flushing toilets in the new terminal.

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