Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the fastest growing airport in North America. In 2014, SeaTac handled a record 37 million passengers, an almost 8% increase over 2013. That figure is supposed to jump to 66 million in 20 years.
This tremendous growth presents challenges and opportunities. As the Port of Seattle embarks on significant capital projects to meet this demand and ensure world class customer service, we have an opportunity to create an international model for environmental sustainability.
We can build on a positive track record. The Port of Seattle has already partnered with Alaska Airlines and the Western Washington Clean Cities Initiative to convert all of the airport’s airfield ground support vehicles from fossil fuels to electric power. This conversion of 650 vehicles is projected to save as much as $2.8 million in airline fuel costs and 10,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year – equivalent to taking about 1,900 cars off the road.
The electric vehicle program combined with other green airport initiatives – such as using a centralized heating and cooling system to provide pre-conditioned air to planes parked at gates and the requirement that contracted airport taxicab services have a 100% hybrid fleet – has resulted in a reduction of more than 50,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Thanks to these smart investments, SeaTac was the first airport in North America to win an award for carbon emissions reductions by Airports Council International in 2014.
Now it is time to think about our future. How do we reduce emissions from ground transportation to and from the airport, including incentivizing transit? How do we partner with airlines such as Alaska Airlines to better utilize biofuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions? What are the opportunities to better leverage wind and solar energy at an airport?
Join me in urging the Port of Seattle to make environmental protection a priority as we manage future growth at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.