One of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s five key strategies is focused on the community: Striving to be a trusted and highly responsive regional agency. As such, communication with the public is an important aspect of what we do at the airport, and we take this responsibility seriously.
Outreach is about more than just sending emails or making calls. Board members and staff are frequently out in the community, talking with residents about airport programs and initiatives. The Airport Development Plan (ADP) and North Side Development Program are two examples of projects where robust public outreach helped ensure the community was informed and had an opportunity to provide feedback.
After the Terminal 2 Green Build expansion opened in 2013, attention turned to replacing the nearly 50-year-old Terminal 1. That’s where the ADP comes in. The airport launched a comprehensive public outreach campaign to raise awareness of the ADP’s goals and gather public input.
The Airport Authority hosted 1,000 attendees at 100 meetings, reached nearly 7,000 readers through its print and electronic newsletters, and secured 135 media placements. Feedback was uniformly positive and encouraging, and helped staff finalize a plan that was approved unanimously by the Airport Authority Board in the fall of 2015.
The north side projects, designed to maximize efficient utilization of SAN’s limited acreage and modernize its functions, included a new general aviation facility for private aircraft, a new Receiving and Distribution Center, and a consolidated Rental Car Center. These projects all involved major construction activities, so SAN’s community outreach program sought to keep neighbors and other stakeholders informed and provide a channel for public concerns and complaints. In all cases, the Airport Authority has worked hard to minimize any negative impacts of these new facilities on the local community, both during construction and ongoing operations.
Outreach included briefings for elected officials, presentations to business and community groups, media relations, website content, social media, and electronic and printed newsletters.
While SAN’s new Rental Car Center was built with sustainability in mind – it’s a candidate for LEED Silver certification – it’s very location and operational strategies also bring sustainable benefits to the community.
The previous rental car area was on North Harbor Drive, near the main entrances to the terminals. The new facility is on the north side of the airport, away from most of the arriving and departing vehicle traffic on North Harbor Drive. This has dramatically reduced rental car traffic on the main roadways, as well as the number of shuttle buses competing with passengers getting to and from the airport.
Not only did we pull most of the shuttles off North Harbor Drive, we actually reduced the total number of rental car shuttles from 81 down to 16 at the end of 2015 – with all of them operating on a newly built interior airport roadway and using alternative fuels.
This has dramatically reduced rental car traffic on the main roadways, as well as the number of shuttle buses competing with passengers getting to and from the airport.
We know it’s not always easy living close to a busy airport, especially one that’s bordered on all sides by bustling, mixed-use neighborhoods and also the city’s urban core.
That’s why programs that promote neighborhood sustainability such as the Quieter Home Program are vital to San Diego International Airport’s mission of connecting with neighbors and being a good community partner.
The Quieter Home Program is a hallmark of the Airport Authority’s commitment to maintaining and improving the quality of life for our neighbors. We were very excited to celebrate a major milestone in 2015 – the 3,000th home to be retrofitted under this program.
For the past 14 years, this program has reduced aircraft noise inside homes east and west of the airport, including Bankers Hill, Point Loma, Little Italy, and Ocean Beach communities, which lie under the approach and departure corridors for our busy single-runway airport.
The Quieter Home Program typically achieves interior noise reductions of at least five decibels, meeting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) noise level reduction guidelines.
This is accomplished through a partnership with the FAA, the City of San Diego and our neighbors.
The program customizes a design for each home, and may include special sound-attenuating doors and windows and new ventilation systems that reduce noise levels from arriving and departing aircraft overhead.
Other efforts to address noise-mitigation objectives include extensive monitoring and stakeholder outreach, including our Airport Noise Advisory Committee which advises the Airport Authority Board and consists of elected officials, industry partners such as airlines and local municipalities, airport staff, and community members.
Airlines and aircraft manufacturers are also key pieces of the noise-mitigation puzzle. Airlines are shifting to a business model that favors fewer flights utilizing larger aircraft with fewer empty seats than ever before.
Aircraft manufacturers are developing quieter planes and experimenting with other innovative solutions, such as the vortex generator – a small piece of equipment that is placed on the underside of Airbus aircraft, requiring little investment for major noise reductions.
Although the outcome is not yet known, a potential challenge we face is the FAA’s proposal for flight procedure changes dubbed the “SoCal Metroplex.” This is part of the ongoing implementation of NextGen, a national program involving the transition from ground-based to satellite-based navigation and surveillance, as well as other upgrades, to increase the efficiency of the airspace system.
The SoCal Metroplex, which is still under review, would involve changes to the flight procedures around the airport. We are committed to closely monitoring any resultant changes in noise levels or patterns to help protect our neighbors and the residents of San Diego.
Total homes retrofitted under Quieter Home Program, 2012-2015 (cumulative)
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is closely monitoring the potential impacts of climate change, especially sea level rise, which could impact our ability to operate the airport. In fact, San Diego Bay experienced its highest high tide event ever in November 2015 (since record-keeping began in 1906).
The Airport Authority developed an airport-wide hydrologic model and flood vulnerability assessment in 2015, which illustrates future potential flood conditions and accounts for future storm surge and sea level rise. These climate impacts are expected to exacerbate airport flood risk by the year 2050.
It’s important to note that some of our most critical infrastructure, including Runway 9-27, most taxiways, and the Air Traffic Control Tower, are not at risk of flooding. However, many other airport facilities could be moderately or highly vulnerable to periods of inundation in the future.
As such, the airport’s new Water Stewardship Plan includes multiple resilience-focused actions which we will undertake in coming years, from developing resilient design guidelines for new infrastructure and landscape projects, to updating our emergency planning and response procedures to reflect emerging climate risks.
We are also partnering with other agencies and organizations on climate adaptation planning. The Airport Authority was elected in 2015 to the Steering Committee of the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, which is a network of public agencies sharing expertise and leveraging resources to advance comprehensive solutions to climate change in partnership with academia, nonprofits, and businesses. These types of collaborations will help the Airport Authority monitor and prepare for potential operational, financial, and regulatory impacts of climate change in the future.
Climate change, like many other environmental policy areas, is subject to rapidly-evolving science and an inherent level of uncertainty. However, the airport follows the precautionary approach of using the best available science at the time to take protective actions to avoid environmental degradation.
Climate change brings warmer temperatures, which mean increased demand for cooling and air conditioning, along with rising sea levels. In November 2015, sea levels in San Diego Bay reached an all-time high.
One of the more significant challenges the Airport Authority faces is managing waste from a variety of sources, including food services, administrative offices, inbound and outbound flights, and more.
The Airport Authority has achieved competitive waste diversion rates since the inception of our single stream recycling program, which allows us to collect paper, glass, plastic, cardboard, and metals. In addition, we have recently expanded our pre-consumer food waste recycling program to include 100 percent of concessionaires.
We achieved a 95 percent waste recycling and reuse rate for construction and demolition (C&D) materials in 2015 even as the amount of recycled C&D materials increased from 1,199 tons in 2013, to 89,281 tons in 2015 due to the new Rental Car Center and other capital improvement projects.
Most airlines’ waste is deposited into Airport Authority’s onsite compactors and included in our reported municipal waste and recycling streams. Waste from international flights, however, is processed and disposed of separately in compliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Regulated Garbage” program to inhibit the spread of pathogens and invasion of foreign species.
The Airport Authority has been recognized for waste reduction and recycling achievements through numerous award programs, including the Governor’s Environmental & Economic Leadership (GEELA) Awards, the North San Diego Business Chamber’s Sustainability Champion of the Year Award, and the City of San Diego’s Recycler of the Year Award, which we have received nine times.
Despite our successes, significant opportunities exist to improve our performance by streamlining waste recovery services across the entire airport enterprise. In particular, our 2015 waste characterization report found that our recycling stream is contaminated by non-recyclable waste. Our contamination rate suggests that we would benefit from better training, signage, and engagement of our employees, tenants, and passengers to maximize waste diversion and recovery.
To support our aspirational goal of becoming a “zero waste” facility, we have convened a Waste Reduction Team to engage stakeholders across our operations in recovering a greater share of our waste streams generated in airport facilities and flight operations.
The Airport Authority has implemented several strategies to ensure pollutants from storm water discharges are minimized.
The airport’s storm water discharges are currently regulated by three permits: the Municipal (MS4), Industrial and Construction General Permits. A new, more stringent MS4 permit was recently adopted in 2013, which required the Airport Authority to collaborate with 10 other jurisdictions in the development and implementation of the San Diego Bay Watershed Management Area Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP). The WQIP outlines the strategies each jurisdiction will use to limit the pollutants in storm water runoff draining into the storm drains, streams, and rivers flowing into San Diego Bay.
At the airport, the primary pollutants that could run off from storm water into San Diego Bay are zinc and copper. Zinc originates from roofing materials and galvanized fencing, while airport operations, such as tire and brake pad wear from aircraft and vehicle traffic, generate copper residue. In 2015, the Airport Authority began to implement new strategies to address copper and zinc pollutants:
Two recent examples of green infrastructure implementation on the north side of the airfield are:
The outcomes of these new strategies will help the Airport Authority comply with both the Industrial and Municipal permits, while contributing to a healthier San Diego Bay. Our new Water Stewardship Plan will also support our water quality goals through multiple actions such as leveraging enhanced water sampling technologies, capturing and reusing rain water, and creating new design requirements that are directly aligned with our water quality objectives.
San Diego International Airport (SAN) has a unique place in aviation history. Did you know:
In November 2015, SAN celebrated its rich history during National Aviation History Month with a public information program to increase awareness of the airport’s history and future plans for development. The program included:
San Diego International Airport (SAN) has launched The Good Traveler, a pilot program designed to encourage sustainable travel by enabling individuals to offset the environmental impact of their journey in an affordable, easy and meaningful way.
Through The Good Traveler, individuals can purchase carbon offsets at www.thegoodtraveler.org or at select locations, with proceeds going toward conservation projects that help counteract the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment.
For $1, travelers can buy a collectible Good Traveler tag or sticker that can be placed on a bag, laptop or phone cover. The purchase will offset 500 miles of air travel or 200 miles of driving, with 100 percent of proceeds going to three projects: a forest restoration project in California, a wind farm in Idaho, and a water restoration project in the Colorado Delta.
Since its inception, The Good Traveler has offset more than 2.3 million miles of air travel.