It seems only fitting that one of our planet’s most ecologically unique and pristine places should also boast one of the world’s most environmentally friendly airports. In fact, since 2011, the airport on the island of Baltra has boasted the distinction of being the world’s only airport powered exclusively by renewable energy.
The conversion of the airport on Baltra Island to renewables began in 2011 when the old wooden terminal, which was built by US forces during World War II, was taken apart. The new terminal was largely constructed out of recycled materials, including some of the wood from the old terminal, as well as cylindrical supports that are actually old oil pipeline. Locally sourced building materials, including volcanic rock, were also used in the construction in order to minimize the amount of goods imported from the mainland.
The $40 million renovation has gotten plenty of international attention. The airport, which now handles roughly 400,000 passengers annually, is the first and only entire to earn a LEED Gold sustainability certification for an entire facility (San Francisco’s terminal extension was also awarded the certification).
The airport’s power is generated by solar panels and three huge wind turbines. The walls are open, which allows the island’s strong winds to keep things cool, so there is no need for an energy intensive air conditioning system.
A few days ago we reported that a new solar powered catamaran will soon begin transporting people from Baltra to the island of Santa Cruz. As the number of people visiting the islands continues to increase each year, it’s great to know that authorities are taking steps to reduce some of the impacts of tourism on the archipelago’s fragile ecosystems.