Seattle-Tacoma wins largest ever FAA environmental grant to fund airport pre-conditioned air project
Fri 5 Nov 2010 – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is to receive a $18.3 million grant from the FAA’s Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) programme to help fund construction of a pre-conditioned air project that will make Sea-Tac one of the nation’s few airports with a centralized system that covers the entire airport. The project will allow aircraft to hook up to pre-conditioned air provided by the airport at each gate and shut down their auxiliary power units (APUs). Once installed, the project is expected to save more than 50,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and airlines serving the airport around $10 million in fuel costs per year.
The entire project is estimated to cost around $33 million, with the VALE grant covering the first phase that will see 53 of Sea-Tac’s 81 gates supplied with pre-conditioned air. Construction of the first phase is expected to be completed by the end of 2011, with the entire project scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.
The balance of the cost is to come from Airport Development Funds which come from fees charged to airlines, although Sea-Tac says the fuel savings will more than offset the fees.
“The size of this project is unusual for an airport in a temperate climate like ours, but we’ve shown this can make a tremendous impact on our environmental footprint, one of our key goals,” said Mark Reis, Sea-Tac Airport Managing Director. “The positive effects also include reduced noise from aircraft while they are parked at the gates.”
The cooled or heated air will be piped into the aircraft from a central utility plant at the airport. An estimated ten miles (16km) of piping will be used to complete the project.
Announcing the award, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt commented: “The FAA is encouraging airlines and airports to find creative ways to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment. NextGen technology will also help aviation go even greener by significantly reducing the amount of fuel burned during air travel.”
VALE is a national programme established in 2003 to reduce airport ground emissions at commercial service airports located in designated air quality non-attainment and maintenance areas. It allows airport sponsors to use the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) to finance low emission vehicles, refuelling and recharging stations, gate electrification and other airport air quality improvements.
The previous largest VALE grant was for $10.3 million, which was awarded to Philadelphia in 2009.
“This programme is helping airports around the country make needed technological investments so they can be more environmentally friendly,” said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.