When you base an airport in an ecologically sensitive area, it is important that the building is in keeping with its surroundings and doesn’t harm the natural environment. That is exactly what has happened in the Galapagos Islands.
Galapagos Ecological Airport was opened to the public in 2012 and was built with environmental best practice at the core of its design.
The airport is run by Corporación América, an Argentinian company that operates 53 airports throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The design strictly follows the guidelines set out by the United States Green Building Council, which are seen as a gold standard of ecological building practices worldwide. Ecogal was granted ‘Gold’ level accreditation in the worldwide certification ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ (LEED) in December 2014.
The airport’s green credentials are proven in a number of ways. The building itself is made from 80% recycled material from the old terminal and the structure that supports the new terminal was built from recycled petroleum exploration pipes, which were recovered from the Ecuadorian Amazon. In keeping with the ecological theme of the airport, even the furniture at the gates and in the coffee shops is also made of certified material.
The lighting and temperature regulation systems are also environmentally friendly. Alongside LED lights, the building is designed to take maximum advantage of natural light and the skylights automatically adjust themselves to allow more or less air inside, changing the temperature. For power generation, the airport takes advantage of a solar panel array and a wind farm currently being developed to get 100% if its energy from renewables.
To supply the airport with a sustainable source of water, the operator runs a desalination plant, which takes water from the ocean, treats it, then transports it to the storage tanks located next to the main building.
This holistic approach to airport design and construction is a prime example of what can be achieved when environmental policies are placed front and centre, creating a fully functioning airport with minimal CO2 emissions.