DIA releases environmental ‘report card’

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Denver International Airport’s report card on environmental performance shows it’s progressing on reducing energy use and waste, though it missed a couple of goals.

Janell Barrilleaux, director of environmental programs at DIA, said Wednesday new initiatives should help the airport reduce energy use and waste more in 2009.

While regulations require the airport to minimize impacts on the environment, doing so also can reduce energy expenses, environmental risks and potential cleanup costs, she said.

“We’re finding that when you think differently about how to do business, a lot of cases can be made for how that will reduce your costs,” she said.

The airport set goals in 2005 to reduce gasoline usage per vehicle, electricity usage and waste generation by 1 percent per year.

It released a report Wednesday showing gasoline usage was about 770 gallons per vehicle last year, down from 836 gallons in 2007 but above the goal of 545 gallons for 2008.

Barrilleaux said the airport has been consolidating its fleet, so each vehicle now uses more gasoline. However, overall gasoline usage fell by about 11,000 gallons in 2008, saving the airport an estimated $160,000 in 2008, airport officials said.

The airport fleet has 121 vehicles that run on alternative fuels and 349 gasoline-only vehicles, Barrilleaux said.

The airport has installed a two-megawatt solar photovoltaic system, along with technology to reduce the amount of energy that motors for escalators and moving walkways use. Initiatives like those helped cut how much electricity generated offsite was used per passenger to 4.29 kilowatt hours last year, down more than 20 percent from 5.26 kilowatt hours in 2005.

The airport has reduced the amount of solid waste disposed each year per passenger since 2005 and narrowly missed its goal for 2008 of 0.44 pounds of waste per passenger per year.

For 2009, airport officials are reviewing whether a program to compost organic waste from tenants and concessionaires can be economically feasible.

They also are exploring adding incentives to encourage more of its 1,000 or so city employees to sign up for a public transportation Valupass. There are 172 signed up now.

There are plans to use more efficient lights and to test solar-powered trash compactors in parking lots.